Stoma Care Nurse Says: Managing Your Stoma At Christmas

20 December, 2021

We have teamed up with SecuriCare a to bring you our ‘Stoma Care Nurse Says’ blog series. In this series, SecuriCare’s Stoma Care Nurses will be giving you specialist advice about caring for your stoma.

In this blog, a Stoma Care Nurse discusses ‘Managing Your Stoma At Christmas’…

The Christmas period can be a tough time to approach especially when you have a stoma. If it is your first Christmas with a stoma, you are probably wondering what you can and cannot eat. The Christmas period brings an array of rich foods, and many of us change our diet regime to consume the different types of food that appear in the supermarkets during this time.

So, what can you eat?

Unfortunately, it not as simple as listing all the foods you can and cannot have. It will depend on what type of stoma you have.

If you have a colostomy, you can (probably) eat whatever you like.

Remember that a balanced diet is always the healthy option. If you have a colostomy, the same foods that affected your bowel motions prior to having your stoma will apply. Continue to drink plenty of fluids (this does not have to be just water) and monitor your stoma output consistency, acting accordingly.

If you know some foods cause constipation or diarrhoea, avoid them or eat them in moderation. Remember everyone is different and reacts to foods in different ways. All you can do is try and if that item of food causes problems, remove it from your diet. There are foods which will cause the usual problems such as excess wind, loose output and constipation. There are often no rights or wrongs, but some Christmas food to consider are…

Can cause wind:
Fizzy drinks and alcohol
Brussels sprouts
Christmas cake (large amount of dried fruit)
Mince pies (same reason as above)
Dried fruit and nuts

Can cause loose output
Pure fruit juice
Lager or beer
Spicy food

Can cause constipation
Not drinking enough water
Nuts (increased salt)

You can still have the foods listed above. Eat whatever you like and see what happens. If an item becomes a problem, i.e. causes excess wind, loose output or constipation, eat less of it or cut it out of your diet completely.

An ileostomy is slightly different to a colostomy due as it’s the small bowel.

The diameter of an ileostomy is smaller than a colostomy and your output is much more of a thick liquid consistency. This is because your output is coming out higher in your digestive system and is not going through the large bowel which would thicken up the output as water moves out of the bowel and into the body.

Remember what is normal for you in terms of your output consistency and volume.

You can eat whatever you like but you need to be more careful. It is best to chew your food well and avoid eating too much of one food item. Foods that are more likely to cause a blockage include nuts and vegetables that don’t digest easily (sweetcorn, carrots and foods with skins). It is best to try and remove skins from fruits and vegetables.

How to tell if you have a blockage?

If your stoma is not active or if your output consistency / volume has changed, you may have a blockage. You might also experience some abdominal pain and nausea. If this is the case you can try walking around, massaging your abdomen in the shower, and drinking more fluid. Keep an eye on your stoma output to see if you are passing wind and your output is returning to normal. If this is not the case and the abdomen pain, nausea or even vomiting continues into the next day, you need to go to the nearest emergency department.

If you have concerns over the Christmas period, always seek advice from your Stoma Care Nurse.

Some stoma care services are closed on bank holidays. In the first instance, find out about your stoma care nursing service’s working hours over the Christmas period. If you need assistance out of hours, go to your nearest emergency department.

Spending time with family and friends.

If you feel conformable, it is always positive to share that you have a stoma with friends and family. They should be very supportive. If your stoma makes noises when in the presence of friends and family, try making a joke about it. Blaming someone else or the dog is a good deflection and laugh out loud moment. You should not be ashamed of the surgery you had, or your stoma.

Christmas can be a happy and sad time for some people, and you might feel you need that extra emotional support. There’s a lot of support available during this time, please contact your Stoma Care Nurse to point you in the right direct. We can support you via our Stoma Helpline 0800 328 4257, Facebook Support Group, and website. Remember: you are not alone.

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