Advice for individuals with stomas is that there are no real ‘do’s and don’ts’ for those people who are trying to get used to the new way that their bowel now works.

Many things can effect stoma output including food, physical and emotional feelings and medication. 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 moving through the bowel.

It may be useful to keep a food diary to determine if any problems arise, what foods may be triggering them. If you think that certain foods cause problems, don’t cut them out straight away but wait until you are absolutely sure that they are the cause of the problem. Though this can be difficult, you may be able to reintroduce the food at a later date.

Wind and stomas

Some people find that wind becomes more problematic, simply because you can’t control its release and it can cause your bag to swell. Putting your hand over it may help and avoiding foods such as beans and cabbage and fizzy drinks is worth trying. If you chew gum, don’t. Thinking about how you eat and drink may also be helpful. Avoid drinking and eating at the same time, don’t use straws for drinking, don’t talk a lot when eating and try to eat regularly and not miss meals.

Fibre and stomas

There are two types of fibre; soluble found in fruit, oats, lentils, nuts and beans and insoluble found in grains and other vegetables such as cabbage, onions, and peas. Often the inner part of a fruit, such as apple contains soluble fibre and the skin, insoluble fibre. Both are required for a healthy diet; soluble fibre helps to slow down transit and encourage the uptake of vitamins and minerals into the gut and insoluble fibre helps to bulk stool and make it easier to pass.

When you first have a stoma, you may find that high fibre foods cause you discomfort but this should pass and will be helped by slowly increasing in your fibre intake, giving your system time to adjust.

For more help with specific issues such as odour, output and obstruction, we recommend Patient UK, the Colostomy Association and the IA, Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Support Group.