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A To Your Q: Can I still enjoy eating holiday meals with an ostomy?

The holidays are coming quickly and so is the FOOD! While the season may be “the most wonderful time of the year,” it can also be stressful for new ostomates who are getting reacquainted with eating. You may not know how your digestive system and stoma will react to new foods.

Don't let your ostomy stop you from enjoying holiday meals. You can still enjoy many of the traditional holiday meals but may need to make some adjustments. Here are three tips to help you relax and enjoy the holidays worry-free.

1. Start planning before the holidays.

Talk with your family and friends or whoever you will be spending the holidays with this year. Let them know your restrictions and discuss the menu options.

Read labels and check the list of ingredients when food shopping. If you’re at the deli counter, ask questions to make sure you know exactly what is in the food you buy.

You may want to prepare a dish of your own, even if it’s not the “traditional” dish served at a holiday meal.

Don’t forget to carry along a water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day and extra ostomy supplies if you’re traveling far from home.

2. Know what you can eat.

If this is your first year with an ostomy, a good rule of thumb is to stick with the same guidelines you were given after your ostomy surgery and avoid foods like dried fruits, nuts, corn, and mushrooms. Eat slowly, take small bites and chew your food well.

When it comes to choosing from dishes you didn’t prepare, you may want to stick with the obvious stuff and select foods that are easy to chew, do not have seeds or skins and are not highly seasoned.

Eating at regular intervals several times throughout the day can help with digestion. To help keep portions smaller try using smaller plates, such as a salad or dessert plate.

Be cautious of casseroles because they may have hidden ingredients that could bother you. It’s ok to question people about what’s in the food they brought and/or made.

3. Find easy to chew and easy to digest recipe ideas.

There’s no reason to worry yourself over nuts, corn, or cabbage. With so many delicious soft food recipes available, ostomates can have a stress-free holiday meal. Here’s a list of 30 soft food examples:

1. Gravy without mushrooms

2. Mashed sweet or white potatoes without skins

3. Macaroni and Cheese

4. Steamed, skinless, seedless vegetables

5. Dinner rolls

6. Cranberry sauce

7. Pumpkin pie

8. Shortbread cookies

9. Bread pudding

10. Meatloaf

11. Cheese spread

12. Creamy polenta

13. Pudding

14. Risotto

15. Cooked rice

16. Butternut squash soup

17. Meatballs are quite tender

18. Cheesecake

19. Hummus

20. Cheesy rice balls

21. Smoothies

22. Mousse

23. Cauliflower mashed potatoes

24. Tofu

25. Fish

26. Cheesy mashed potato pancakes

27. Bone broth

28. Ravioli

29. Baked casseroles

30. Potato soup

For more helpful advice on eating and nutrition, the United Ostomy Associations of America has a convenient Ostomy Diet and Nutrition Guide and Ostomy Food Reference Chart.

This information is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice and should not be interpreted to contain treatment recommendations.