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Eating with an Ileostomy

This week I was asked by a fellow IBDer on my Facebook Page what I eat with an ileostomy. She was concerned after the surgeon handed her a booklet with what appeared to be a very restrictive diet just as restrictive as UC itself!

The diets do appear to be very restrictive for those with an ileostomy, that's for sure. For me, however, I have found that eating with an ileostomy is much more freeing!

During my days of ulcerative colitis, I found most vegetables were harsh on my colon. They would pummel it to a bloody pulp (literally) on their way through! Obviously that was not fun! Fiber also hated me (especially oatmeal) and so did most fruits! I was afraid to eat anything except meats and pastas. It was a nightmare!

Although recovery after my surgery was hard and very trying, I also felt like I had a new lease on life! Of course because of the swelling and the fact that your body has to adjust after surgery, you have to start out on liquids and work your way up. This may seem frustrating at first, but once you get past it, you'll realize it wasn't so bad.

What do I eat now? Almost anything (so far!). I have tried salad again and it was heavenly! I've eaten well-cooked vegetables! I've eaten raw fruits! Something I haven't done in YEARS.

I was very hesitant to try all these foods that used to give me trouble, but my doctor insisted that as long as I chew things up really well or cook the vegetables until they are soft, I should be fine. So far, he's been right! I haven't had any problems with blockages (knock on wood).

Foods that have been helpful in thickening up my output:
Potatoes (no skins)
Apples (no skins)

I will say that the apples' juice digests first and so at the beginning my output is watery, but once that passes, things really thicken up for me.

Things that pass through me quickly and make my output watery:
Sweet, fizzy drinks
Grape Juice

The blogger from Gut-Less says, "It was a constant effort to try and keep things the right consistency, so that I would be able to actually absorb the nutrients from my food. I had to be careful though because if things got too thick, I could get a intestinal blockage."

Although blockages can happen to anyone with an ileostomy, you NEVER want to take a laxative--EVER. There was one time that I had a slight blockage. I think what happened in that situation is that the wax barrier around my stoma was too restrictive and preventing a good "flow" of output. Once I took the wafer off, it starting spitting immediately!

If you do get a blockage, they are, in general, very manageable. Cindy Sylvia, an ostomy nurse, agrees! "Most food bolus obstructions are treated conservatively by the person with the ileostomy and believe me, most individuals get to be quite adept at handling these situations." For more information on how to deal with a blockage, click here.

There are still times that I take Imodium to slow things down when things start getting too watery and I haven't tried coffee yet (waiting for my takedown and for my j-pouch to mature). If anyone out there drinks coffee with an ileostomy, please let me know! I'd love to hear how it works out for you.

Food to Glow has a great blog about eating with an ileostomy. I recommend checking it out and seeing what they have found to be helpful.

Those ostomates out there who are vegetarian or vegan need not despair either. Sara Ringer from Inflamed and Untamed is a vegetarian and had a temporary ileostomy. Eric from Vegan Ostomy has a Food Gallery where he posts meals he's tried (and they all look delicious, by the way!).

Thaila Skye has a vlog entry about food that you can watch here. She, too, feels like the operation was more freeing! She tends to avoid popcorn and mushrooms as well as tomatoes. I have heard that these are issues for many people and I have been avoiding foods, too.

In her video, Thaila also discusses the importance of keeping yourself hydrated because those with ileostomies are prone to dehydration. That is because the colon is removed or disconnected and that's where most of the water is absorbed. I drink 100+ ounces of water a day to prevent having to go to the hospital with severe dehydration.

So there you have it. A bit of information about eating with an ileostomy. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time. There is so much information out there about food and ileostomies. Just chew your food well and be careful. Keep a food diary even! Until next time, take care and God bless!

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