There is a lot of speculation on the internet regarding what is safe and unsafe to eat during both the early and later stages of ileostomy recovery. Ignoring most of these sites after nearly driving myself insane thinking I couldn’t eat anything without killing myself, I decided to trial and error my foods. It’s a lot more fun that way! It’s probably best to try some of the gassier foods at home, if you don’t want your bag to blow up whilst out for dinner (of course, I tried chilli con carne whilst out and ended up leaving with my own homemade bag balloon!)
There is a risk of blockages with some foods such as sweetcorn, apple peel and mushrooms, so I have stuck to avoiding these foods; which is annoying because I love sweetcorn! But here is are a few things I have trial and errored, accepted and rejected. I hope this helps!
Porridge – This really thickens my output and doesn’t cause me any gas, plus it fills me up and gives me a good amount of dairy. Porridge is a great idea if you’re used to bran based cereals and fruits for breakfast like me, because it’s still a healthy option, just less worry!
Rice Crispies – If you’re not too hungry in the morning but need to eat before your medication, these are great because they digest well and they’re a very light cereal.
Toast – Of course, bread is your safe food. Toast is all I lived on for breakfast for the first 2 weeks of recovery, it was the one thing I could trust to keep my bag happy!
Yoghurt – Yoghurt seems to be another great option for a light breakfast. If you suffer with bloating and swelling like me, yoghurt is a very soothing option and gives your small bowel a break with easy digestion!
There’s so far only been one breakfast I’ve rejected and unfortunately that is:
Bacon and sausage toasties! 😦 – Surprisingly, given all the carbs, fat and protein in this, all it seems to give back is water. It’s just not worth it!
Broccoli & Stilton soup: I eat this religiously every day for lunch with 2 slices of white bread (really missing wholemeal!) and it seems to work well with me. Soup is great for salt and is low in calories, it will also help to keep you hydrated because of it’s water base; great for if you’re lacking in liquids.
Jacket Potato: Of course, I’d advise you to avoid the skin, but a jacket potato is a great stodgy, carby vegetable. I avoid beans and replace them with spaghetti hoops & cheese – it tastes just the same and saves you the gas!
Chicken, bacon & avacado salad: I was really scared to try this, especially because I added lettuce and tomatos, (websites warn you about lettuce) but this has been my best lunch by far! The chicken and avacado was a great source of protein and the bacon fantastic for my salt intake. I coped really well with the lettuce & tomato and even added roasted vegetable cous cous on the side – roasted peppers, courgette and onion. This meal gave me a fantastic output and I didn’t suffer any consequences! An absolutely 10/10 choice of lunch!
Cheese sandwiches: For some reason my body just does not cope well with cheese! A little bit of grated cheese on a potato? Fine, more than a tablespoon? A recipe for disaster. You never know until you try, I suppose!
Spicy chicken & chorizo broth: What was I thinking buying a spicy broth? A spicy bowl of water? What idiot does that? An idiot that doesn’t read the label! Do I even need to fill you in?!
Pie, mash & gravy – An excellent choice of dinner. I survived on this for quite some time before trying other things! The mash and gravy is soft on your stomach and you don’t have to spend a year chewing, whilst the pie introduces you into smaller pieces of meat or vegetables, depending on what you like.
Salmon, sauteed potatos & carrots – Salmon is low in fat, so great for when you’re ballooning on steroids like me! The potatoes and carrots are a safer option for adding fiber into your diet, as they are both soft and watery.
Lamb, potatoes & green beans – This one was a little harder to eat, it took me around 45 minutes and I did have to reheat it in the microwave at one point because of the amount of time it took me to finish! Lamb is quite thick and chewy, and with meat like that you need to be careful, you don’t want any tummy aches or blockages! So if you’re going to eat thicker meats, chew until your jaw aches! The green beans also worked fine with me, not much gas – I haven’t braved baked beans though!
Carbonara – Although pasta is great to eat, the amount of cream and cheese in this dinner was a no go. I’m sure my bag nearly exploded.
Turkey dinosaurs, potato waffles & spaghetti hoops – This isn’t a great dinner for anyone, but it was quick and easy and I was in a lazy mood. I wish I hadn’t been, as I had a stomach ache for the rest of the evening. This dinner doesn’t offer many nutrients, (I mean what frozen kids meal does?) and with our bodies having less nutrient absorption time than those with their large bowel, it was clear from my bag that no good had been done by this meal.
Chilli nachos – I stupid choice, but I was feeling adventurous! Although it tasted amazing, it’s not always great to be sitting in a restaurant with a balloon on your stomach! Thank god I was wearing a loose top!
Here are a list of snacks that have caused me no issue:
Pate & toast
There is only a very small list of snacks that my body doesn’t agree with. They cause terrible gas and odor. But, I actually still eat chocolate every day. They took my colon, they’re not taking my bloody chocolate too!
Finally, a list of drinks!
Coffee – This helps aid my digestion and fills me up when I’m tempted to overeat!
Cranberry Juice – This prevents odor!
Water- Obviously, our bodies need water more than ever now. I try to drink as much as possible.
Lemon & ginger tea – The ginger in the tea helps fight nausea, when you’re out of nausea pills like me!
Wine – I can stomach wine! I couldn’t believe it! (I doubt that will be the same for everyone though, sadly.)
Squash – If you don’t like plain water, try and drink as much squash as you can instead of replacing with juices.
The only thing I can’t deal with is 100% pure juices. Especially orange juice. Orange juice is a big cause of diarrhea and is very acidic. Best to avoid.
I haven’t tried a huge amount of fruits and vegetables as I am still keeping my fibre intake low, but as I lived a healthy lifestyle before – full of fruits and vegetables – avoiding them completely leaves me feeling run down. It’s all about trial and error though, take your time and slowly introduce things back into your system.
Let me know what works for you!