+ -Text Size


Eating and digestion

After healing is complete and the ostomy is working normally, most people with ileostomies can return to foods they normally eat. If you have a special diet because of heart disease, diabetes, or other health problems, you should ask your doctor about a diet that will work for you. Here are a few simple guidelines about your diet:

  • Doctors often have their patients follow a low-residue diet the first weeks after any abdominal surgery. This includes only foods that are easily digested and don't leave much waste behind, which means no raw fruits and vegetables. Be sure to find out when you can start eating regular foods. Eat foods that you like unless they are restricted by your doctor.
  • When going back to foods you have not eaten since surgery, try one of these foods a day. Eat small amounts at first, then slowly increase the amount. If a small serving gives you cramps or diarrhea, cut out that food for now, but try it again in a few weeks. Chew well and see how each food affects your ileostomy.
  • Drink plenty of liquids. At least 8 to 10 eight-ounce glasses of water per day are recommended. Dehydration and loss of electrolytes (salts and minerals) are possible if you don't take in enough fluids each day. Drink even more fluids if you are sweating or in a hot climate.

A warning: Beets turn ileostomy output a reddish color much like blood, but this is not harmful. Tomato juice and food dyes may change the usual color of ileostomy output, too.

Last Medical Review: 03/17/2011
Last Revised: 03/17/2011