Having a stoma can change a lot of things in your daily life and one of those things is what you eat and drink.

When I got my stoma there was a lot to think about which inflicted a lot of anxieties. What to wear, going on holidays, out and about, would people see it etc., but one I feel affected me a lot was the anxiety around eating different foods and trying different foods.

When you first go through ileostomy surgery you have to switch your diet up to a low residue diet. This lets the bowel rest and helps control the output and thicken it up after surgery. This was the first struggle for me as working in the health and fitness industry i always tried to practice what I preach I.e. 2/3 litres of water a day, whole grains, fruit, veg, nuts and seeds so this just flipped everything I knew and preached to others, on its head! Gradually you then add foods that have been eliminated back into your diet. Even how I eat had to change as everything has to be chewed really well.

After ileostomy surgery and even after the low residue diet, you are told to avoid things like nuts, seeds, skins, some veg and fruits. This is so individual for everyone as some people can tolerate more than others. After the bowel has been given time to recovery you gradually add food in such as tinned fruit, and well cooked vegetables (individually), meats etc., but when it came time for me to do this I really struggled, I was afraid I was going to get a block.

I kept avoiding a lot of foods and wouldn’t try them which really limited me to what I could and would eat. I also had to change up what I drank and how much of different drinks I drank including water as too much water can dehydrate someone with an ileostomy, limit fizzy drinks, cut back on coffee and tea as to much could leave me dehydrated due to the caffeine increasing output. It just seemed easier to me to avoid and not try as the last thing I wanted to do was end up in hospital with a block.

I spoke with my stoma team about this and my dietitian who gave some tips to help overcome my fear. It took a while but I gradually started to try some foods cooking and chewing them well really helped. It’s so important to get the nutrients you need through food and I began to realise this as my iron levels were low I was tired a lot and felt like I had no energy.

The more I tried the more confident I got and I now have a well established diet. It did take time and I have had a few blocks along the way but we live and learn and I now know what to avoid.


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