How Should I Eat After a Colostomy or Colectomy?

Making a Few Diet Changes After Colostomy Surgery Will Help Your Body Adjust

Oatmeal porridge in bowl
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If you have undergone a colostomy or colectomy, you may be wondering, how should I eat after a colostomy or colectomy?

What is a Colostomy?

Colectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of your colon. Your colon, also called your large intestine, is a long tubelike organ at the end of your digestive tract. Colectomy may be necessary to treat or prevent diseases and conditions that affect your colon.

There are various types of colectomy operations:

  • Total colectomy involves removing the entire colon.
  • Partial colectomy involves removing part of the colon and may also be called subtotal colectomy.
  • Hemicolectomy involves removing the right or left portion of the colon.
  • Proctocolectomy involves removing both the colon and rectum.

Colectomy surgery usually requires other procedures to reattach the remaining portions of your digestive system and permit waste to leave your body.

Do I Need a Special Colostomy or Colectomy Diet After Surgery?

Typically, a person will receive only IV fluids for two to three days after a colectomy or colostomy, to give the colon time to heal. After that, you will try clear liquids, such as soup broth and juice, followed by easy-to-digest foods, such as toast and oatmeal.

You will be able to go back to your normal diet after this, but you may want to avoid certain foods that cause odors or gas, which can over-inflate the colostomy bag and make it more difficult to manage.

Foods that sometimes need to be limited, in order to make it easier to manage your colostomy, include:

  • Raw vegetables
  • Skins and peels of fruit (fruit flesh is OK)
  • Dairy products
  • Very high fiber food such as wheat bran cereals and breads
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Corn and popcorn
  • Brown and wild rice
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Cakes, pies, cookies, and other sweets
  • High fat and fried food such as fried chicken, sausage, and other fatty meats

Other foods can be helpful after a colostomy, to thicken the stool and minimize odors, including:

  • Yogurt (with live and active cultures)
  • Cranberry juice
  • Bananas
  • Applesauce
  • Well-cooked, sticky white rice
  • Buttermilk
  • Tapioca
  • White toast

Why is Chewing So Important After Colostomy Surgery?

Finally, be sure to thoroughly chew everything you eat. Chewing is an important part of the digestive process and we all chew our food to some degree. However, if you make a special effort to chew food very well, it will help you manage your colostomy more easily. Try to chew everything until it is liquid in your mouth.

References

American Cancer Society. The Cancer Experience: Colon and Rectum Cancer. Making Treatment Ions.

Mayo Clinic. Colectomy.

Mayo Clinic. Colostomy.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Ostomy Nutrition Guide.

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