Diet with an ileostomy

An ileostomy is similar to a colostomy, but formed from the ileum (small bowel) and the output from it may be quite liquid.

In time the small bowel gradually adapts and your stoma output should thicken up to a porridge-like consistency, and the amount of output will lessen. People with an ileostomy quite often wear a drainable stoma bag, which is fastened shut at the bottom and can be unfastened and emptied as often as necessary during the day.


Make sure you eat regularly, as this helps to regulate stoma function. Occasionally, some people have continuing problems with frequency or consistency of their output, in which case you may need to take medication to control it. Your stoma nurse will be able to help you get used to your ileostomy, and will have strategies to help you with any issues you may have.


As with a colostomy, the timing of your meals will have a direct effect on the activity of your stoma, and you’lll soon recognise the patterns as they affect you.


What can I eat?

See Diet with a Colostomy for suggestions of food that can help manage your ileostomy. Do experiment, as the wider the choice of foods you try, the better the chance of being able to achieve a well-balanced diet. The most important thing is to chew your food thoroughly before you swallow it. You’ll get much more nutrition from your food if it’s broken down really well before it reaches your stomach, and this can help to reduce bloating and other symptoms.


Foods to avoid ‘whole’ as they may cause blockages

Nuts, sweetcorn, pulses and beans, popcorn, dried fruit, mushrooms, stringy vegetables and fruit.


Salt intake

Most people already have enough salt (sodium) in their normal daily foods, and the bowel soon adapts to make sure that this is absorbed efficiently. So there is no need to add extra salt to your diet if you have an ileostomy, unless you have been advised to do so by your medical team.


Further information and support is available from the IA Support Group.