Christmas with a Stoma

Date: 06 December 2019      Category: Advice

Christmas with a Stoma: Dietary tips for the festive season

Dietary tips for the festive season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is a time of temptation for everyone, regardless of whether you have a stoma or not. If you do have a stoma, we have some helpful dietary tips for you to make the most out of Christmas and not have to worry.

Please note: We would advise you to seek advice from your stoma nurse if you have any dietary concerns.

If you have an Ileostomy…

Increased food intake

It is totally normal to be eating more over the Christmas period, but this could affect your stoma. Remember:

  • The more you eat, the more active your Stoma will be, so make sure you are emptying your bag more frequently.
  • The consistency of your output may alter and change as you’re consuming a larger amount of food.
  • If there’s any new foods you’re having since your stoma, maybe it’s your first Christmas with a stoma, try a very small portion first to see how you will react to it.

Irregular meal patterns

During the festive season, you may have Christmas meals/parties with work, get-togethers with friends or family which means you may be eating out later than usual. If that’s the case, it is completely normal for your stoma to be more active overnight, just keep that in mind.

Richer foods

Limit the amount of rich food you eat over the Christmas period. These include Christmas cake and mince pies. Avoid whole nuts where possible. Don’t go mad with any type of nut and chew well before swallowing to prevent a blockage.

High fibre foods

Having a stoma, you may want to be more cautious whilst eating foods that are very high in fibre. These foods include: dried fruits, nuts, citrus fruits, spicy foods, sprouts, parsnips, cabbage and ‘nibbly’ foods such as celery, pickled onions and sweetcorn.

The problem between these high fibre foods and your stoma is that they can cause blockages. There are a couple of things you can do to avoid blockages, these are chewing your foods properly and not eating them in large amounts.

If you do have a blockage:

  1. It is best to stop eating for up to 24 hours and continue drinking plenty of water. This can help the blockage slowly release itself. 
  2. To ease the pain of the blockage and to try and pass it through yourself, try massaging your abdomen very gently in a big circular clockwise motion.
  3. Soaking in a warm bath may ease and relieve the spasm and may help the food blockage pass through.

Please note: If these measures are unsuccessful or your pain becomes worse or is accompanied by vomiting you need to seek emergency medical help

If you have a colostomy…

Rich and spicy foods around the Christmas season may cause your stoma output to alter or change in consistency, you may also experience more stoma output than usual, and therefore, you may be having to change your bag more frequently. If you’re eating different foods at Christmas, or eating more than you usually would, you may experience constipation or looser stools.

Tip: Make sure you are drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluids. We recommend 2 litres/3.5 litres per day.

If you have a Urostomy…

Most of us enjoy alcohol at Christmas, going out for a few with your friends, but do be wary of the effects it can have on your stoma. Remember, alcohol dehydrates but it can also increase your stoma output. Be prepared to rehydrate. Also, you may need to empty your bag more frequently and don’t forget to attach your night drainage.

Tip: Cranberry juice is handy to have in. Anecdotally, it is reported to reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections.

To all ostomists…

Please note: If you feel unwell and your stoma stops working, please seek medical advice.

  • Make sure you are drinking enough non-alcoholic beverages e.g. water, tea, coffee, and squash.
  • Brussel sprouts are notorious for making those who eat them more windy and odorous.

  • Beetroot can colour urine and stools red, this can be easily mistaken for bleeding.
  • To those of you that love your cheese boards, stilton and other smelly cheeses can increase odour from the stoma output.

  • Please check you have plenty of supplies to take into the New Year with you.
  • Finally, if you are eating more or eating foods you usually wouldn’t, remember to always carry an emergency kit/change of bag when travelling.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!