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Good Diet for Ileostomy Patients

author image Dominique Brooks
Dominique Brooks has been a medical editor for over 10 years. She has worked in medical education for physicians, nurses and pharmacists as well as consumers. She started writing business articles for Work.com in 2008 and health articles online in 2009. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Alabama and a Doctor of Medicine from Vanderbilt University.
Good Diet for Ileostomy Patients
Most fruit juices are acceptable for people with ileostomies to drink. Photo Credit roibu/iStock/Getty Images

An ileostomy is an opening in the abdominal wall where waste products can exit the body. Part of the intestine is attached to the opening. The waste goes into a pouch that in attached to the ileostomy; you change this pouch regularly. You may need an ileostomy after an injury or surgery like colon cancer resection or inflammatory bowel disease surgery involving the colon or rectum. Having an ileostomy may mean that you will have to make some adjustments to your diet, but you still should be able to enjoy your meals and eating.

Be Selective of Fruits and Vegetables

Eating fruits and vegetables are important for good health; however, you may need to change your choices. Fruits and vegetables with skins and seeds may be difficult to digest and may cause irritation of your digestive tract leading to diarrhea, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Fruits that are good choices include applesauce, cooked or canned fruits, pureed fruits, ripe bananas and all fruit juices except prune. Vegetable options are cooked or canned asparagus tips, beets, and carrots, pureed vegetables, winter squash, pumpkin or avocado, as noted by the American Society for Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition.

Eat Well-cooked Meats and Eggs

Tough undercooked meats may also be difficult to digest and fried foods may cause loose stools. Highly seasoned meats, poultry and fish as well as luncheon meats should also be avoided. Ground or well-cooked beef, ham, poultry, lamb or pork are good choices; fish, cheese, eggs and smooth peanut butter are excellent ways to get protein in your diet.

Choose Starches Made from Refined Flour

Breads and pasta made from refined flour contain less fiber and are better choices for you if you have an ileostomy. Breads that contain additional nuts, seeds or coconut should be avoided as well, according to the American Society for Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition. You can eat white and rye breads, biscuits, saltine crackers, cream of wheat, noodles, white rice and potato chips; your nutritionist can give you more suggestions.

Drink Plenty of Liquids

Since you have an ileostomy you may lose more fluids than a person without one, as most of the fluid in the body is reabsorbed during digestion in the large intestine. You will have to drink more fluids to avoid dehydration. Drink six to eight cups of fluids each day; tea, coffee and carbonated beverages are all acceptable, as are most fruit and vegetable juices. Ask your dietitian if prune juice or other juices should be avoided.

Avoid Foods that May Cause a Blockage

Certain foods – especially if not digested well – may cause a blockage at the opening of your ileostomy. Examples include celery, popcorn, nuts, seeds, peas, coleslaw and raisins, according to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Although you should limit your intake of these foods to avoid problems, you do not have to totally avoid eating any of them if you eat small amounts and make sure that you chew them completely.

Experimentation Is Important

Everyone does not react the same to all foods; some foods may cause diarrhea or gas in one person but not in another. You may find that you may be willing to experience a bit of discomfort or inconvenience after eating a specific food if you are going to be at home alone. Some foods, like garlic and onions, may cause an increased odor at your ileostomy, while others, like buttermilk and cranberry juice, may cause less. Spend some time experimenting and trying new foods to see how you react to each. Your physician and dietitian can help you make some decisions as well. Having an ileostomy does not mean that your life comes to an end. You can still eat a broad, tasty diet and enjoy meals with your friends.

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