What can I eat?

This is one of the most frequent questions asked after surgery.

These guidelines apply to urostomy, colostomy and ileostomy surgery.  Mealtimes are for enjoyment, not worry.  Contact us if you have questions or concern about what you should be eating.

There are two stages of returning to your usual diet after ostomy surgery.

Immediately after surgery (up to 4-6 weeks after surgery):

Remember that your bowel has handled, cut and stapled. Like your stoma after surgery, your bowel tends to be swollen.

  • Eat foods that are gentle and easy to digest
  • Keep in mind that humans cannot digest cellulose or fiber such as skins of fruits, nuts, etc., so they need to be broken down by using the Three C’s:
    1. Chew well
    2. Cook food until soft
    3. Cut food into smaller pieces
  • There is no need to restrict yourself to soups or other liquid forms of nutrition – enjoying regular foods will help your bowel recover and adapt more quickly.

Check out this great resource from the Cleveland Clinic for more information.

You can start to slowly resume your normal diet after the swelling in your bowel and abdomen has gone down. Usually people will have a sense of what they are ready for – use this as your guide for reincorporating tougher foods back into your diet.


  • A healthy balanced diet is all most people need after urostomy surgery
  • Drink 8-10 glasses (about 2 liters) of fluids each day to help keep your urine flowing and your kidneys healthy


  • The lower in the digestive system you have your colostomy, the more like regular formed stool it will be.
  • As you return to your normal diet, remember:
    1. To chew well
    2. There are no food restrictions, especially if you have a sigmoid or descending colostomy (close to the rectum)
    3. Foods that gave you gas before surgery may still give you gas – gas will come out into the pouch
    4. Some foods cause the stool to have a different colour (such as beets which turn the stool red) or have a different odour
    5. Some foods thicken the stool and some make it looser.


Right after surgery your ET nurse and dietician will give you information about food blockage. With an ileostomy the possibility of a blockage never goes away completely, but after the swelling from surgery has gone down the likelihood of a blockage decreases.

You should not let fear of a blockage prevent you from returning to your normal diet. Some people find that there are certain things that they cannot eat, but most things can be eaten without issue. Here are tips to help make resuming a normal diet easier:

  • Keep in mind the Three C’s (see above) – the chewing one is the most important in Stage 2
  • Start to reintroduce foods slowly
    • Select one item have a small quantity
    • See how you feel over the next 12 or so hours
    • If everything goes well, increase the amount at another meal
    • Add another food item and follow the same process!