Diet with a colostomy

A colostomy is a surgical procedure that involves connecting a part of the colon (large bowel) to an opening on the abdomen, called a stoma.

After a colostomy, semi-solid faeces (poo) leaves your body through the stoma, and collects in a pouch attached to your abdomen, which is changed when necessary.


In general, people with a colostomy can eat whatever they like. This means there is no real dietary advice or ‘do’s and don’ts’ for those people who are trying to get used to the new way that their bowel now works (whether on a temporary or permanent basis). In fact, food is just one of the things that may affect stoma output. Physical and emotional feelings, medication and other treatments can also have an effect.


It is important to chew food thoroughly before swallowing it, to break it down as much as possible in the mouth before it reaches the stomach. This will make it easier for your body to digest, and less likely to cause problems in the bowel.


However, you will quickly realise that the level of stoma output will be affected by how much you eat and when you eat, and you will soon be able to identify your own unique pattern again, as you did before you became ill. Finding out which foods may affect you can be hit and miss and a process of elimination. Foods that make one person uncomfortable may not upset someone else.


Remember, everyone is different – whether or not you have a stoma, some foods will have an impact on your bowel, and you are probably already familiar with them.


What can I eat?

Foods that can help to loosen stools: raw vegetables, spices, prunes, chocolate, fresh fruit, salad dressing, coffee.


Foods that may cause wind: nuts, fruit, cucumber (especially the skin), sprouts, beans and pulses, chocolate, onions, curries, sweetcorn, beer.


Foods that can cause odours: green, leafy vegetables (particularly asparagus), fish, eggs, onions, beans, cheese.


Foods that can control odours: tomato juice, orange juice, natural yogurt, parsley.


Foods that may thicken output: bananas (very ripe), boiled rice, marshmallows and jelly babies, porridge, smooth peanut butter, instant mashed potato, white bread, pasta, gelatine.


Further information and support is available from the Colostomy Association.