What to eat < BACK

You should be able to eat normal foods and, just like everyone else, you need to eat a well-balanced diet. If you have any concerns about your diet and its effect on your ileostomy, please seek the advice of your Stoma Care Nurse. Here’s some general diet advice for ileostomists:

Food for ileostomists More info

It is important to eat a variety of foods to keep you healthy:

- Include fruit and vegetables daily.
- Have foods rich in protein – e.g. meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk or yoghurt.
- Foods classed as carbohydrates – e.g. bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and breakfast cereals – should make up at least half of your meal.

General Advice More info

1. Some people find that smaller, regular meals suit them better and prefer not to eat late at night. Eat regularly (at least 3 times per day) as this helps to ensure your stoma functions efficiently and helps avoid wind.
2. Always chew food well and eat slowly – this helps digestion.
3. Vary your foods. Experiment and try everything in small amounts, gradually increasing quantities. If something disagrees with you, avoid it for a couple of weeks and then try a small amount again.
4. Some people find that they are unable to tolerate foods that are rich in fat – e.g. cream, pastry, full cream milk, cheese and chocolate. Alternatives would be semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, lower-fat cheeses and low-fat spreads.
5. Drink plenty of fluids – approximately 2 litres each day. This can include tea and coffee, but water and squash are preferable.

Wind More info

Non-food causes of wind – chewing gum, eating with mouth open, talking while eating, drinking with a straw, smoking, eating irregularly.

- Eat at regular intervals throughout the day and try to avoid long gaps between meals.
- Eat with your mouth closed and don’t talk!
- Allow fizzy drinks to go flat.
- Don’t use a straw for drinking.
- Eat live yoghurt – 1 carton per day. The natural kind seems more effective. If this is too sour, add a teaspoon of honey or jam, mix with jelly or freeze and eat as ice cream.
- Be aware that, if you eat beetroot, it may cause a reddish colour stool.

Odour More info

Causes – beans, broccoli, cheese, cucumber, eggs, onion, fish.

- Buttermilk
- Live yoghurt
- Peppermint oil capsules (available from chemists and health food shops)

Loose Stools More info

Possible causes – alcohol, cabbage, chocolate, fish, fruit (not banana), green veg, prunes/prune juice, lettuce, nuts, oily foods, onions, spicy foods, caffeinated drinks, citrus fruit juices, sorbitol (a low calorie sweetener).

- Apple sauce
- Over-ripe bananas
- Cheese
- Marshmallows
- Smooth peanut butter
- Boiled rice
- Tapioca
- Pasta
- Gelatine based products, such as jelly and jelly babies

Some foods can swell in the bowel and may cause mechanical problems or a blockage. If this happens, your ileostomy output will lessen or stop, or may contain large amounts of watery fluid. You may also experience pain. You should seek the advice of your Stoma Care Nurse or Doctor if you think this may be happening to you.

Foods that may increase the risk of this happening are – nuts, coconut, celery, mushrooms, sweetcorn, Chinese food, dried fruit, raw fruit skins, pith, pips and stones.

These foods should be eaten slowly, chewed well and taken with ample fluids after a meal, rather than with the meal.

If you experience diarrhoea, it is important to reduce the risk of dehydration. Similarly, if you are on holiday in a hot climate or do strenuous exercise, this can lead to dehydration.

- Fluid is best absorbed if you have salt, so drinks such as Bovril or Marmite may help.
- Eat salted crisps with a drink.
- Isotonic sports drinks are good for rehydration.
- Rehydration solutions such as Dioralyte, from the chemist, will help.

If you take anti-diarrhoeal drugs, ask your Doctor for tablets or medicine rather than capsules as these may not be broken down in the small bowel and so may have a limited effect.

People with an ileostomy should NEVER suffer from constipation.
If you have any concerns, please seek the advice of your Stoma Care Nurse.

Eating well living well booklet More info

Take a look at our digital booklet about food advice for ileostomists. — "Eating well, living well" Just click on the image to the right.