Watching what I eat

For somebody with an inflammatory bowel disease, eating has a very different meaning that it does for somebody with a “normal” intestinal tract. For most people, I believe the common things you consider are: 1. Does is taste good? 2. Does it provide the nutrients, etc. that I need? 3. Does it contain a bunch of bad ingredients that I don’t need? 4. Will it fill me up? I doubt it usually goes beyond that.

IMG_0660For those with an intestinal disease, a number of other issues rise up. Will it make my want to claw my stomach out? Is it going to cause diarrhea? Vomiting? Will I spend all day tomorrow on the toilet? Is it really worth it to eat that? After years of dealing with those questions, now that I no longer have a colon and have my ostomy, I realize there are still a bunch of other questions I have to ask myself.

Ever since I’ve had my surgery, eating has been different. First of all, I gain weight differently that I did before. And yes, I know, this is actually a good thing. It means I’m healthier and that my body is actually absorbing the nutrients it is supposed to. This is actually a major testament to how much better I am doing, because a common issue that can arise with having your colon removed is that you don’t absorb everything you need. But even without my colon, the rest of my body is doing so much better at taking in what I need. Honestly, I’m probably the size and weight now that I’ve always supposed to have been. But at the same time, as a woman, it’s difficult to be used to being one size your whole adult life and suddenly having to get adjust to being a different size… and not being able to fit into your skinny jeans. (I actually wrote a whole post on this subject.)

Secondly, the foods I eat have changed (only slightly). I never could eat corn before my surgery. It always upset my stomach so I stopped eating it probably 5 or more years before my surgery. And I love to eat corn. So it has been great that I can now eat it again. But I’ve also know that I can only have it in moderation. Since for me, everything comes out “uncompacted,” things like corn that don’t break down can potentially cause blockages. And I have had a few blockages and, believe me, they are no joke. They can be a serious problem for people with an ostomy, potentially even leading to surgery.

Since getting my ostomy, I have learned that I need to pay more attention to what I eat. As I just said, foods that don’t break down can cause issues. Rice, black beans, mushrooms, lettuce, spinach, peppers, potato skins, sun-dried tomatoes… all of these don’t digest particularly well.  Rice is probably the worst for me if I eat in a large volume, because you swallow so many rice grains whole. …and they come out whole …and in large clumps. The majority of leaks that I deal with are from thick output, most often caused by eating some of these dangerous foods.

So my advice to anyone out there living with an ostomy, is to pay close attention to what you take in. If you’re like me and can now eat other foods that you couldn’t before, that doesn’t mean you should just eat whatever you want. If you’re going to eat one of those un-digestible foods, be sure you take the time to chew it extra well. And also, don’t make a plan to eat all of them in just a couple of days. Spread it out a little. It’ll make your day go a little smoother. (Pun intended.)

10 thoughts on “Watching what I eat

  1. Jes

    Oh girl, you did eat a bunch of no-nos in one week! But it’s a learning process and we’ve all been there 🙂 It is just so exciting to eat things that you would never have considered in the past! Moderation is the key and to drink lots of water when you do eat them. Keep exploring and tickle those tast buds 🙂 Good Luck on Sunday!

    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      I know! What was I thinking? And you’re definitely right, it’s all about moderation. I can eat all of those things, just not all at the same time and not in large amounts.

      And thanks! Only 3 days left!

  2. Mary Jo Cucchiara Langley

    I see those post is from 3 years ago but I just saw it. I’ve had Crohns for 40 years and an ostomy for 6. I discovered Boston butter lettuce. I gave up salad 40 years ago and only recently learned that I can eat butter lettuce because it’s softer and digests easier. Hope you hand been well. Good luck.

    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      Wow, I’ve never really noticed a difference between lettuce types. Will have to pay more attention. Thanks!

    2. angie

      what exactly is butter lettuce???? im having major difficulty with eating anything without problems past 4-5 months, id loveeeeeee to have a salad but no i cant ill end up w a blockage in the hospital i have a ileostomy thanks

      1. julie bemis

        I have a colostomy and I don’t know if anyone else may have experienced this but I take potassium pills and they are quite large and I have noticed when emptying my bag the pills are in the bag still almost whole I have been having painful blockages I think from the pills

        1. patsygazaleh

          I have problems with some of my meds showing up in my bag as well. This is what helps me. You should first tell your doctor. Then try to eat potassium rich foods like spinach, raisins, nuts (eat these early in the day so they will pass through your system before you go to bed), soy beans, lentils. Your doctor may have a potassium tablet that is is easier to digest.

          I have issues with my iron medication. My stool is black and thicker and shows in my bag about an hour after taking.

          I hope this helps.


          1. Julie Bemis

            Thank you Patsy I am waiting for my Dr. to call back the nurse said maybe liquid potassium would be betteri hope they come up with something soon blockages are no fun have a great day hope to hear from you again

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