The Best and Worst Foods to Eat if You Have an Ostomy Bag

Fibrous raw vegetables like Brussels sprouts are among the foods to avoid with an ostomy bag.
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Most people can eat a relatively normal diet after fully recovering from an ostomy. But during that recovery period, it's important to know which foods to eat and which foods to avoid with a new ostomy to prevent uncomfortable side effects like gas or diarrhea.


An ostomy is a procedure that reroutes waste out of an opening in your belly (called a stoma) and into a pouch outside of your body, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). It may be necessary if you have a gastrointestinal injury or disease, like Crohn's or ulcerative colitis. There are different types of ostomies, including:

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  • Ileostomy:‌ A surgery that connects the bottom of your small intestine (ileum) to the stoma
  • Colostomy:‌ A surgery that connects your colon to the stoma

Here's everything to know about your post-ostomy diet, including foods to munch on and what not to eat.

Foods to Eat

Your diet will change throughout your recovery, though you should be back to eating like normal after about six weeks, according to the United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA). Here are some foods you can eat with an ostomy bag.


1. Clear Liquids

The best post-surgery diet for people with a stoma bag is a clear liquid diet, per UOAA. Prioritize the following liquids for a few days before starting to eat solid foods again:

  • Pulp-free juice like white grape or apple juice
  • Electrolyte sports drinks
  • Clear sodas like ginger ale
  • Herbal tea
  • Ice pops or fruit ice
  • Clear hard candy like lemon drops
  • Fruit-flavored gelatin or Jell-O
  • Clear soups and broths like vegetable, beef and chicken broth or bouillon
  • Clear nutrition or protein drinks like Ensure Clear


2. Low-Fiber Foods

You can start to add solid, low-fiber foods back into your stoma bag diet a few days after your procedure, per Northwestern Medicine. Introduce one new food every few days to see how your body responds. If something causes gastrointestinal symptoms like gas, odor or diarrhea, stop eating it and try it again a couple of weeks later.

Low-fiber foods to eat include:


  • Well-cooked and seedless vegetables like cooked carrots and squash
  • Strained vegetable juice
  • Fruits like avocados, soft melons, bananas and canned fruit (except pineapple)
  • Pulp-free juices except prune or grape juice
  • Refined grains like white bread, white rice, crackers, pasta and rolls
  • Milk products, if you can tolerate lactose (if not, try lactose-free alternatives like soy milk)
  • Chicken, pork and beef prepared without extra fat
  • Smooth nut butters


3. Gas- and Odor-Reducing Foods

Certain foods can help minimize any odor or gas you may experience. Per Northwestern Medicine, gas-reducing foods include:


  • Buttermilk
  • Yogurt
  • Cranberry juice
  • Parsley


Limit or avoid drinking out of straws, eating too quickly, chewing gum and smoking, which can cause you to swallow air and potentially increase gas, per Northwestern Medicine.

4. Foods to Ease Diarrhea

Diarrhea may occur after an ostomy, according to UOAA. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Northwestern Memorial recommend eating the following foods to ease diarrhea after an ileostomy or colostomy because they can naturally thicken your stool and replenish lost electrolytes like sodium and potassium:


  • Bananas
  • Applesauce
  • Cheese
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • White rice
  • Broth

5. Hydrating Fluids

Diarrhea can make you dehydrated after an ostomy, so drinking plenty of fluids is key, per the UOAA. The NLM recommends drinking 6 to 8 cups of water per day, though you can check with your doctor to determine the best amount for you as you recover.



You should try to eat five or six small meals per day at regular intervals, as skipping meals or overeating can lead to gas and discomfort, per the NLM.

Foods to Limit or Avoid

On the other hand, it's best to steer clear of certain foods indefinitely after your ostomy, as they may contribute to gas, diarrhea or constipation with an ostomy bag, per UOAA. Here are the foods not to eat after an ostomy.


Adjusting your diet after surgery can involve lots of trial and error. To help you navigate this transition period physically and emotionally, talk to your doctor or dietitian about any foods that give you trouble, or consider joining ostomy support groups.

1. Foods That Give You Gas

Any foods that made you gassy before your surgery are likely to continue to cause that reaction, according to Northwestern Medicine.

Per the UOAA, minimize uncomfortable gas by limiting or avoiding these common gas-inducing foods:


  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Onions
  • Legumes like lentils, beans and peas
  • Nuts
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol (especially beer)

2. High-Fiber Foods

Fibrous foods are hard to digest and may pose a risk of an ostomy blockage, which can cause pain, swelling, odor and clear discharge into your stoma bag, according to the UOAA.

Per the UOAA, high-fiber foods to avoid (particularly in the weeks following your surgery) include:

  • Corn
  • Coconut
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Raw fruits and vegetables
  • Dried fruit
  • Salad
  • Lentils, beans and peas
  • Whole grains like whole-wheat bread and brown or wild rice


If you experience symptoms of a blockage or have no output into your stoma bag for several hours, call your doctor.

3. Odor-Causing Foods

Just as gas-producing foods can cause discomfort and embarrassment, odor-causing foods can cause similar complications, per UOAA. To prevent unpleasant odors in your stool, avoid these foods after a new ostomy:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Legumes like lentils, beans and peas
  • Dairy products, if you're lactose intolerant

4. Foods That Contribute to Diarrhea

What you eat affects the consistency of the stool in your ostomy bag. Per the UOAA, limit foods that can contribute to diarrhea, such as:

  • Prune juice
  • Raw fruits and vegetables
  • Baked beans
  • High-sugar foods chocolate or soda
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy products, if you're lactose intolerant

5. Processed Foods

Processed foods high in unhealthy trans and saturated fats or added sugars can also lead to digestive discomfort, including gas and odor, per the UOAA. As a result, it's best to avoid these foods with an ostomy:

  • High-fat foods like bacon, butter or frozen pizza
  • Fried foods
  • Foods with added sugar like packaged baked goods and candy


An ostomy can potentially lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, according to the UOAA. Work with your doctor or a registered dietitian to build an ostomy diet that provides you with the nutrients you need.




Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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