Diet Suggestions After a Colostomy or Colectomy

If you have undergone a colostomy or colectomy, you may be wondering how you should change your diet. The good news is that while you may need to make some changes to the foods you eat, you probably will not need to completely overhaul the way you eat.

In addition, you will likely receive support from your doctor and/or a nutritionist shortly after your surgery to help you learn the best way to eat.

Dietary Guidelines for Post-Colonoscopy

Ellen Lindner / Verywell

Colectomies and Colostomies

A colectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of your colon. Your colon, also called your large intestine, is a long tube-like organ at the end of your digestive tract. A colectomy may be necessary to treat or prevent diseases and conditions that affect your colon.

A colostomy is a surgical procedure in which the surgeon connects the remaining part of your colon or small intestine to an opening in your abdomen where waste can leave the body. This is usually collected in a bag.

There are various types of colectomy operations, including:

  • Total colectomy involves removing the entire colon.
  • Partial colectomy involves removing part of the colon and may also be called subtotal colectomy.
  • Hemicolectomy involves removing the right or left portion of the colon.
  • Proctocolectomy involves removing both the colon and the rectum.

Colectomy surgery usually requires other procedures to reattach the remaining portions of your digestive system and permit waste to leave your body, such as with a colostomy.

Diet After Surgery

Typically, a person will receive only IV fluids for two to three days after a colectomy or colostomy, to give the colon time to heal. After that, you can try clear liquids, such as soup broth and juice, followed by easy-to-digest foods, such as toast and oatmeal.

You will be able to go back to your normal diet after this, but if you have a colostomy, you may want to avoid certain foods that cause odors or gas, which can over-inflate the colostomy bag and make it more difficult to manage.

Foods to Limit With a Colostomy

Foods that sometimes need to be limited in order to make it easier to manage your colostomy include:

  • Raw vegetables
  • Skins and peels of fruit (fruit flesh is OK)
  • Dairy products
  • Very high fiber food such as wheat bran cereals and bread
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Corn and popcorn
  • Brown and wild rice
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Cakes, pies, cookies, and other sweets
  • High fat and fried food such as fried chicken, sausage, and other fatty meats

Foods That Help a Colostomy

Other foods can be helpful after a colostomy to thicken the stool and minimize odors. These include:

  • Yogurt (with live and active cultures)
  • Cranberry juice
  • Bananas
  • Applesauce
  • Well-cooked, sticky white rice
  • Buttermilk
  • Tapioca
  • White toast

Chewing Thoroughly After Colostomy

Be sure to thoroughly chew everything you eat. Chewing is an important part of the digestive process and we all chew our food to some degree. However, if you make a special effort to chew food very well, it will help you manage your colostomy more easily. Try to chew everything until it's liquid in your mouth.

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Article Sources
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  1. Loftus EV, Friedman HS, Delgado DJ, Sandborn WJ. Colectomy subtypes, follow-up surgical procedures, postsurgical complications, and medical charges among ulcerative colitis patients with private health insurance in the United States. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2009;15(4):566-75. doi:10.1002/ibd.20810

  2. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Diet guidelines for people with a colostomy. Updated February 14, 2019.