Foods to Avoid After a Hemicolectomy

Preparation of baked vegetables in a pan.
A pan with a broccoli and vegetable stir fry. (Image: LexussK/iStock/Getty Images)

You undergo colectomy surgery to remove all or part of a diseased colon. When one side is removed, it's called a hemicolectomy. Your bowels need time to heal following surgery, so your doctor may recommend a soft diet consisting of tender foods that are easy for you to digest, according to Kaiser Permanente's Patient Handbook for Colectomy. The goal is to avoid foods that may further irritate your digestive tract. Your doctor may provide you with specific diet instructions upon discharge.

Gas-Forming Foods

Certain foods promote gas, which can irritate your digestive tract and make you uncomfortable. Vegetables to avoid while you're healing include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, eggplant, lettuce, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, corn, turnips and green peppers. Other foods to avoid include apples, apricots, bagels, bananas, citrus fruits, potatoes, raisins and pastries. In addition, milk may cause problems in some people. It's crucial to assess your individual tolerance.

Foods That Cause Diarrhea

Many patients experience diarrhea following colectomy surgery. Avoiding certain foods and beverages helps reduce loose stools. If diarrhea becomes a problem, avoid foods such as baked beans, dried beans, chocolate, soup, licorice and spinach, advises Kaiser Permanente. Beverages to avoid include prune juice, beer, hot beverages, red wine and too much coffee. You may need to avoid alcoholic beverages altogether. Go slowly to determine your tolerance for coffee.

Foods That Are Hard to Digest

Raw fruit and vegetables, as well as dried fruit may be harder to digest, so you may need to avoid these. Other foods to avoid include highly seasoned, cured and smoke meats, as well as berries, figs, wild rice, strong seasonings, high-fiber foods like whole grains, very course cereals, potato chips, fried potatoes and other fried or greasy foods. Seeds and nuts may also aggravate your digestive system, so avoid them by themselves as well as in fruit, crackers, bread and other foods.

Foods to Eat

To reduce digestive discomfort, add one food at a time to find out which foods you can tolerate and how much. Aim to have tender-cooked, mildly flavored foods that are soft in texture and easy to digest such as eggs, pasta, plain white rice and soft-cooked fruits and vegetables -- except those on the avoid list. In addition, eating foods such as applesauce, bananas, yogurt, creamed rice cereal, creamed wheat cereal and tapioca help reduce diarrhea.

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