With the help of researchers and physicians, there are ways to extend and improve the life of people who might not otherwise have a chance without modern science. For example, people with colon cancer or other diseases of the colon can still lead normal lives with a colostomy. According to the American Cancer Society, a colostomy is an opening in the abdominal area in which the end of the colon is brought up through during surgery. This allows the intestines to work similarly to how they do in healthy individuals, but the anus is no longer where stools exit the body. People with colostomies sometimes have difficulty eating because certain foods lead to side effects. People who need to gain weight but have a colostomy must work a little harder and follow a plan to get all of the necessary nutrients in without causing side effects.
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Snack often, eating small but frequent meals instead of three large meals a day. This helps for two reasons: It allows you to eat more calories without feeling too full, and it also decreases gas. The American Cancer Society says that if you don't eat frequently enough as a colostomy bag user, the stomach will become full of air, leading to flatulence. Try eating something every three hours, such as peanut butter and an apple, dried fruits and nuts.
Drink plenty of fluid throughout the day to stay hydrated and to decrease the chances of developing constipation. Constipation is common with colostomies, and because laxatives are not safe for people with colostomies, drinking fluids is essential. The American Cancer Society recommends drinking eight to 10 8-oz. glasses of water every day. Additionally, drinking beverages such as juice and milk will help you gain weight easier by adding calories into your diet. Drink water throughout the day, along with two glasses of milk or soy milk and one glass of juice every day.
Pay attention to your body and to which foods cause constipation, diarrhea and odors after having a colostomy. It's important to prevent these side effects not only for your own comfort, but also because diarrhea could lead to dehydration and weight loss. The American Cancer Society says that there are no particular foods that are good or bad for a person with a colostomy. A food that is well-tolerated by one person might cause side effects in another. If you get constipated when you drink cow's milk, try rice milk or soy milk instead. Likewise, if cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli lead to odors, try vegetables like carrots and potatoes instead.
To gain weight after a colostomy, eat high-calorie foods such as nuts, butter, oils and full-fat dairy if these foods are well-tolerated. According to the Student Nutrition Awareness Campaign at the University of California-Los Angeles, it takes eating an extra 500 calories every day to gain one pound per week. Calorie-dense foods that are easy to eat on the go include dried fruits, nuts and seeds. You might want to add extras to your foods such as cheese on your sandwiches and seeds on your salads.