For Nutrition and Hydration Week (16th-22nd February 2020), Keith has decided to talk all about food and food choices when you have a stoma, and the importance keeping up your fluid intake and trying out new things can be. Let us know in the comments if you have any food suggestions of your own!
When I became an ostomate, I was reading and listening to a lot of talk about what foods are good, what foods should be avoided – but as with many things ostomy-related, everyone is different and everyone’s experience is different. After the “eat this”, “eat that” and “definitely avoid the other” advice that was flying at me, it soon became apparent that I had to just find out for myself what suited me and what didn’t.
I am lucky I suppose in that I have only a few foods I have to avoid; which is great because I love food! Some of the things I have learned to avoid are: dried fruits (currants, raisins, sultanas), and mushrooms. Sometimes I have difficulty with more fibrous foods simply because I don’t chew them enough. To be honest, that has a lot to do with the fact I wear dentures, having had to have my teeth extracted many years ago, and not chewing enough has proved to be my downfall – especially when it comes to some of my favourite vegetables. It is true that the more you chew your food, the better your system can cope with it.
It is a myth that all our food needs to be bland and boring, food can definitely still be exciting and interesting. One interesting tip I have learned for people who find curries difficult to digest is to use Asafoetida powder instead of the onions and garlic – that way you will have a similar flavour but without the resulting wind! This is easy to find in any supermarket (please see image to the right for reference).
One of my absolute favourite things to eat is fish. Now and again Mrs T and I enjoy a fish a and chip tea from the local chippy which is gorgeous. However… the rest of the evening and the following day the ‘fish bag’ smell is quite distinctive! (Keeping an air freshener close by is handy in times like these!). In Swansea we have a fantastic market (award-winning in fact) and before my operation there was nothing I liked more than to pop in to buy a Welshman’s favourite -cockles with vinegar and a little pepper. However since my operation I have been wary of trying them because of the affect they might have on my stoma output.
I also love sweet corn – it has an amazing taste but the content of my bag the next day reveals that sweet corn in pretty much the same state as it went into my mouth. Hearkening back to earlier in the blog, this is a perfect example of how my lack of chewing doesn’t help. But sweet corn is one of those foods that we as ostomates are warned about as eating it could end up blocking your stoma. Perhaps this is another reason I am worried about the cockles. Blockages are a nightmare.
In almost eight years as an ostomate, I have had only a few blockages to deal with. The first signs of a blockage are a watery output with no solid matter. This continues for bag after bag – and my first reaction when it happened to me the first time, was to get myself to A&E. This wasn’t really the best solution as a first step. I was told not to eat or drink anything in case I needed an operation. However as part of my daily routine I always drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and in this instance, when I was losing fluids quickly, it was more important than ever to keep up the fluid intake. So the situation was not made any better.
Now I have learned to cope far better by not panicking; I try to relax, take in plenty of fluid along with a Dioralyte or two. Usually the blockage will pass itself, but if there is any pain, vomiting, sweating, then I know I need to get to hospital ASAP – they are the experts.
So, food, glorious food – eat well, eat healthily, drink plenty of fluids. And remember, whatever you eat, the choice is yours.
Keith’s top tips for choosing foods with an ostomy:
- Keep a food diary to keep a record of what foods you’ve eaten and how they affect your output.
- Many ostomates have been able to access the services of a dietician; it might be worth checking if there is that facility available on the NHS in your area if you’re looking for further advice.
- Always chew food really well.
- Don’t be afraid to cook spicy or more luxurious foods, the likelihood is you wont have any ill effects and you should still be able to enjoy interesting meals.
- With blockages, try not to panic and drink lots. Monitor the bag carefully – but get to hospital if you are in any doubt.
We hope you have enjoyed the latest Keith’s Corner blog! Please let us know if there are any topics you would like Keith to cover or if you have any food suggestions!
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