Colectomy diet recommendations: foods to eat and avoid


If you've had any type of colectomy surgery (which removes part or all of your colon), you've likely been told to follow a colectomy diet . As your colon heals from surgery, there are foods that are easier and harder to digest.

Some foods can ease symptoms, while others make them worse. Knowing the difference between the two will help you feel better and get back to your more familiar eating habits faster.

Read on to learn more about the foods to eat and the foods to avoid after colectomy surgery.

Adam Gault / Getty Images

Diet immediately after surgery.

For the first two to three days after your colectomy, you will likely only receive intravenous (IV) fluids, given through a tube inserted into a vein, so your colon has time to heal. After that, you will switch to a clean liquid diet . This means that you will only drink clear liquids, such as broth, fruit juices without pulp (such as apple juice), soda, and gelatin.

When you're ready to start eating solid foods again, you'll first eat foods that are easily digestible, such as toast and pureed wheat.

Collectomized food

Some of the common symptoms that can occur after a colectomy include diarrhea and dehydration . These symptoms can occur because your colon has not yet returned to normal. The colon absorbs fluid. Failure to do it correctly can lead to diarrhea and dehydration.

Easy-to-digest foods that can help reduce diarrhea include:

  • Coba
  • Bananas, pears, peaches, and melons
  • Boiled white rice
  • Boiled beetroot
  • Cream of rice or wheat flour
  • Low-sugar grains (avoid high-fiber cereals, such as wheat bran)
  • Pasta
  • Peanut butter
  • Potatoes
  • Pretzels
  • Spinach
  • White bread or toast
  • Yogurt
  • Tapioca and angel food

Other soft foods with little residue include eggs, boiled fish or tender meats, soft cheese, soft fruits or vegetables, pudding, sorbet, and ice cream.

Foods to Avoid After a Colectomy

Since you are still receiving treatment, it is best to stay away from foods that can carry a risk of food poisoning . This includes:

  • Unpasteurized soft cheeses (choose only pasteurized cheese)
  • Undercooked meat
  • Raw fish (refrain from sushi for now)
  • Fruits or vegetables that you have not washed thoroughly.

The operation can increase the chance of infection. And food poisoning shortly after a colectomy can lead to hospitalization again.

If you experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea after a colectomy, call your doctor immediately. In particular, severe vomiting can lead to an incisional hernia , in which abdominal tissue is pushed up through the muscles below the incision. This is a common complication of colectomy surgery.

Foods to limit after colectomy

After surgery, you can return to your normal diet, but some of the foods you ate before may not be digested well. It is best to avoid these foods for now.

Over time, your body will adjust and you will be able to eat whatever you want. No two people respond in the same way to a colectomy. So take the time to find out which products work for you and which ones don't. Also, slowly adding food back can help determine which food is causing your stomach upset.

If you are unsure about choosing a specific food, start with a smaller amount. Add a slightly larger serving with each meal.

It is generally better to eat small meals every three hours or so than to overwhelm your digestive tract with a large meal. Snacks also improve digestion and help minimize constipation or diarrhea.

Products You May Need Limit until your body adjusts after colectomy, which includes:

  • Raw vegetables, especially carbonated vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, radishes, and asparagus.
  • Other less digestible vegetables like celery, corn, mushrooms, and onions.
  • Fruit peels and skins, especially acidic fruits
  • Nuts like raisins and dates.
  • Dairy products
  • Fiber-rich foods such as cereals and wheat bran breads.
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds (especially if you have diverticulosis )
  • Popcorn
  • Brown rice and wild rice
  • Cakes, pies, cookies and other sweets.
  • Fatty and fried foods
  • Beer, red wine and spirits
  • Soups or hot drinks
  • Caffeine, including coffee and chocolate.
  • Very spicy food
  • Licorice
  • Plum juice

It may take a while for your body to get used to high-fiber foods. Try adding one high-fiber food at a time to avoid overwhelming your body, which can lead to constipation. Be patient and listen to your body as you gradually add more food to your diet. If you feel nauseous or full, stop eating or slow down.

Other nutritional tips after colectomy

In addition to eating the right foods, be sure to drink plenty of water (8-10 cups a day). This will help your body digest food and eliminate waste.

To make sure they're getting enough fluids, some people find it helpful to put a full jug of water in the refrigerator every morning. Then they make sure to finish it during the day.

Your fluids don't have to be water. Apple juice and cranberry juice are also considered part of your requirements.

After a colectomy, it is important to chew your food well, and most of us don't chew enough. Try to chew food before swallowing until it becomes liquid. This is especially important with meat or larger foods that can cause blockages if not spread before swallowing.

Regardless of your condition, it is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet. If necessary, work with a dietitian to create a plan with the appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for your age, weight, and level of physical activity.


After your colectomy surgery, it is important to follow the diet suggested by your doctor. Right after surgery, you will only be given fluids through an IV to give your colon time to heal. Later, you will switch to a clean liquid diet.

Eventually, you will begin to eat hard, easily digestible foods such as toast and grits. Following your doctor's instructions will help prevent diarrhea and dehydration. Soon you will be able to return to your normal diet.

Get the word of drug information

If you are concerned about food after colectomy surgery, talk with your doctor and dietitian. They can help you determine what you or your loved one needs to eat.

Don't be afraid to ask very specific questions about what you can and cannot eat. By making sure you get all of your questions answered before you leave the hospital, you can feel comfortable and safe when you get home.

Related Articles
Foods to Avoid If You Have Dry Mouth From Radiation

Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a common side effect of radiation therapy for people undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer. Read more

Thyroid adenoma: Causes, Treatment, and Diagnosis

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your throat that produces hormones affecting a number of Read more

NSAIDs and You Thyroid Function

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most frequently taken over-the-counter medications. Due to their systemic or whole body effects, it's Read more

How Doctors Are Failing Thyroid Disease Patients

The thyroid disease community has continually mentioned the lack of support they experience and the difficulty they have navigating the Read more