Freedom to Eat Well

Having a stoma shouldn't stop you from enjoying the foods you loved before your operation. 

Eating Well

Each person is unique, and everyone reacts differently to certain foods, regardless of whether or not they have a stoma. All in all, the golden rule is a varied diet where all things are taken in moderation. Along with exercise, this is the best way to achieve and maintain good health.

Once you are starting to feel better following your operation, it's a good idea to start introducing your favourite foods slowly. Just like people without stomas, your body can react differently to different foods. It is important to understand which foods your body has low tolerance to.   

Personal perspective on eating

Healthy Eating 

New Zealand Dietary Guidelines  


If you have discussed with your doctor if you are able to drink alcohol, make sure that you follow their recommendations on how much you can have. Depending on your type of stoma, you might find that carbonated drinks such as beer and cider may give you gas.


Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornflour, barley or any other cereal grain is a grain product. This includes breads, breakfast cereal and pasta.

These are divided into whole grains and refined grains.

Whole grains contain the entire kernel. For example, oatmeal, brown rice and wholemeal flour are whole grains. Refined grains have been milled to remove husks or fibre. These provide finer texture and include white flour, white rice, white bread and pasta.

A typical adult diet calls for three servings per day. One serving equals a slice of bread, a half cup of cooked cereal, a half cup of rice or pasta or a cup of cold cereal.


Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of this group. Vegetables may be eaten raw or cooked, fresh, frozen, canned, dried, whole, cut up or mashed.

Vegetables are made up of five subgroups:

  • Dark green vegetables such as lettuce, kale, spinach cress and bok choy.
  • Orange vegetables, including squash, carrot, pumpkin, sweet potatoes.
  • Dry beans and peas: for example, kidney and lima beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, navy, pinto, soy and white beans.
  • Starchy vegetables, including corn, green peas, potatoes.
  • Other vegetables such as artichoke, asparagus, beets, sprouts, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, celery, etc.

For vegetables, one serving equals about one cup. Depending on age and sex, guidelines call for one to three cups of vegetables a day. Typically, men require more servings than women and children.


Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of this food group. Fruit may be fresh, canned, frozen, dried, whole, cut up or puréed. A serving of fruit equals one cup, and three or four servings per day are recommended.

Fruit juice contains more sugars than just fruit; keep this in mind if you are watching your kilojoule, or calorie, intake. Overall, fresh whole fruit is a better choice.

Some fruits can cause an increase in pouch output. This includes fruits with stones, such as mangoes, plums, apricots, etc. Bananas are known to slow down and thicken output.

Coconut flesh has been known to cause blockages in ileostomies. So if you have doubts, take a very small amount or exclude altogether.


Oils come from many different plants and fish. Examples are canola, corn, cottonseed, olive, safflower, soybean and sunflower oils.

Moderation – the key to healthy eating – is especially important with the oil group.

Fats should be kept to a minimum. There are good fats and bad fats. Some fats contain high amounts of cholesterol, which can cause heart disease. Oils from plant sources do not contain any cholesterol. Fish oils are naturally good at reducing bad fats.

Oils include both solid fats and oils. Solid fats are those that are solid at room temperature. These come mainly from animal foods with some from vegetable oils. Examples are butter, tallow, lard, margarine and shortening.

Fats that are oils remain liquid at room temperature. Those that are mainly oils include mayonnaise and salad dressings. A number of foods with naturally occurring oils are nuts, olives, fish and avocados.

Daily servings of fats and oils often come from the cooking processes, such as pan frying. A constant diet of deep fried food can be bad for you, but for most people there is no harm if it is done infrequently.

Milk Products

One of the primary benefits of dairy products is the calcium they contain. All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are considered part of this group. Other milk products such as cream cheese, cream and butter do not retain the calcium, and they are not considered part of the dairy group.

Besides fluid milk products, you can get the benefits of dairy through:

  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Yoghurt
  • Pudding made with milk
  • Ice cream
  • Ice milk

If you have a lactose intolerance, there are liquid milk products available that are lactose free. Some cheeses and yogurts are lactose free as well. It’s always worth reading the packaging contents label to make sure.

You might consider soy milk and other soy products as dairy alternatives, but they may not contain the full array of nutrients that dairy products have.

Recommendations for dairy vary, but about three servings per day is optimal to maintain healthy bones and provide other essential nutrients. One serving equals a cup of milk, a small container of yogurt or a piece of cheese. With this many options, it is easy to get your daily intake.

Meat, Fish, Nuts and Beans

All meat, poultry, fish, dried beans or peas, eggs, nuts and seeds are considered part of this group.

Protein is one of the most important nutrients supplied by this group.

Meat and poultry choices should be lean.

Fish, nuts and seeds contain healthy oils, so be sure to include them in your diet frequently.

If you have an ileostomy, be cautious as there have been occasions where a blockage occurs when nuts are eaten. Some people have been known to get a small blockage after only one nut. Be slow to introduce these into your diet. If you love eating nuts, make sure you chew them very well before swallowing. Another possibility is to choose nut spreads, such as peanut butter or hazelnut spreads.

General recommendations for this food group would be one to three servings a day.