Eating Your Way to a Better Pouch
When planning their diet, a pouch patient should ask themselves two questions: “How am I going to achieve an adequate nutritional intake?” and “How will what I eat affect my pouch?”.
When considering the first question you must bear in mind that it is desirable to take a varied and well-balanced diet, and vital to take plenty of fluids and keep salt levels to.
Typically you should drink 6 to cups of fluid a day (1½ to 2 litres) in the form of water, tea, coffee and unsweetened fruit juices. You should also add a teaspoon of salt to your food every day because without a colon you are at risk of not absorbing the salt your body needs to stay healthy.
There are times when you need to be extra careful about keeping your fluid and salt intake up. These are when you are suffering from vomiting, diarrhoea or excessive perspiration due to hot weather or exercise, and also during the first few weeks after surgery.
At times like these increase your fluid and salt intake, and if necessary take oral rehydration fluid (you can buy sachets of powder for this from your pharmacist).
As always, if the condition is severe, or persists, seek medical help.
Eating and your pouch
As far as the effects eating has on the pouch there are no set rules. Pouch function is often just as affected by your eating pattern as it is by individual foods. If you think your food is adversely affecting your pouch keep a food and symptom diary.
It is worth retrying problem foods - they may not cause you problems after a while. But always bear in mind that variety is essential for good health.
Obviously bowel frequency increases with the number of meals eaten. If you feel you are suffering from going to the loo too often try consuming no more than three meals a day. If you are troubled by getting up in the middle of the night to empty your pouch try eating your last meal of the day earlier, and perhaps make your largest meal of the day at lunchtime.
Different foods have different effects on different people. What may cause one pouch patient a problem may not bother another. However, the following guidelines make sense for many pouch patients.
Soluble fibre thickens the consistency of the stool and therefore reduces frequency. This can be found in oats, peas, beans, lentils and barley. Insoluble fibre holds fluid but encourages faster transit time, thus increasing frequency. This can be found in wholemeal bread and wholegrain cereals.
Foods which increase output are:
- caffeinated beverages
- citrus fruit
- leafy green vegetables
- raw fruits and vegetables
Another culprit is sugar which attracts fluid into the small bowel through osmosis causing a larger, more watery stool.
The following foods decrease bowel output:
- creamy peanut butter
- white bread
- suet pudding
Chew your food thoroughly and cut down on fizzy drinks if you are troubled by wind. Wind can also be caused by talking too much during a meal!