Diet Suggestions After a Colostomy or Colectomy

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

Shortly after your surgery, your healthcare provider and/or a nutritionist will probably help you learn the best way to eat.

This article explains how your diet may change right after surgery on your colon. It also discusses foods to enjoy and foods to avoid going forward.

Dietary Guidelines for Post-Colonoscopy

Verywell / Ellen Lindner

Colectomies and Colostomies

A colectomy removes all or part of your colon or large intestine. Your colon is a long, tube-like organ at the end of your digestive tract. Surgery may be necessary to treat or prevent conditions that affect your colon.

A colostomy connects the remaining part of your colon or your small intestine to an opening in your abdomen. Waste leaves the body through that opening. It is usually collected in a bag.

There are several types of colectomy surgeries:

  • Total colectomy removes the whole colon.
  • Partial colectomy removes part of the colon. It's sometimes called a called subtotal colectomy.
  • Hemicolectomy removes the right or left part of the colon.
  • Proctocolectomy removes both the colon and the rectum.

Diet After Surgery

After surgery, you will receive only intravenous (IV) fluids (given through a tube inserted in a vein) for two to three days to give the colon time to heal. You can then try to drink clear liquids, such as soup broth and juice.

The next step is to eat easy-to-digest foods, such as toast and oatmeal. At that point, you should be able to go back to your normal diet.

If you had a colostomy, you may want to avoid foods that cause odors or gas, which can inflate the colostomy bag and make it harder to manage.

Foods to Limit

Foods you may want to limit include:

  • Raw vegetables
  • Skins and peels of fruit (fruit flesh is OK)
  • Dairy products such as milk and cheese
  • 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

Other foods can be helpful after a colostomy because they thicken the stool. They may also cause less odor. These include:

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

Chewing Thoroughly

Be sure to chew everything you eat very well. Chewing helps with digestion. It will help you manage your colostomy more easily. Try to chew everything until it's liquid in your mouth.

Summary

If you have had colon surgery, your diet will include foods that are very easy to digest as you recover. Once your colon has healed, you will be able to eat more of the foods you normally eat.

If you had a colostomy, you may want to limit foods that cause gas. These foods can make it harder to handle a colostomy bag. Foods that thicken the stool and cause less odor can make life with a colostomy bag easier.

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