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Life After Surgery: Part II

Two of the most common questions that patients ask us after having ileal J-pouch anal anastomosis surgery are

  • Should I follow a special diet?
  • Is there someone I can talk to who also has had ileal J-pouch surgery?

The following article will give you some tips about your diet and will provide contacts for mutual support groups.

Diet
People who have an ileal J-pouch anal anastomosis do not have to adhere to a special diet. However, fresh fruits and vegetables tend to make stools looser and more frequent. You may want to avoid these foods for the first two to three months after surgery and gradually add them to your diet in small amounts.

Remember: It is best to practice moderation and eat common sense sized portions. Avoid eating big portions such as an entire pizza or a large salad.

Other Dietary Tips

  • Some folks find that keeping a food diary helps them identify which "trigger foods" cause them problems. This is easy to do. Just jot down in a notebook what you ate, when you ate it, and how you felt afterwards.
  • You should keep your bowel as empty as possible before going to bed.

    If you eat a large meal or drink a lot after 7:00 p.m., you may experience more bowel movements at night. This is particularly true after ileostomy reversal when the J-pouch has not yet begun to stretch and is still quite small.
  • Most patients find that eating a large meal at midday and a light meal in the evening works best for the first six months after ileostomy closure.

Remember: Everyone is different. Foods that cause problems for one person may be well tolerated by another individual.

Support
Adjusting to life after J-pouch surgery can be challenging at times. You may find joining a mutual support group helpful. Just knowing that you are not alone can be a relief.

In some areas, there is an active support group for patients with a J-pouch. Check out your local Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) chapter or the United Ostomy Association (UOA) for support and a wealth of information.

Remember: Motivation, determination and regular follow-up care are key to helping ensure the best surgical outcome. Enlist the support of family, friends and qualified members of your healthcare team.

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