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Dietary advice for Pelvic Pouch patients

A pelvic pouch, otherwise known as a J-pouch, is a surgical procedure used to treat ulcerative colitis.

During the operation, the colon and rectum are removed and a pouch is created to act as a reservoir to hold stools and subsequently remove them from the body.

It can take up to a year for a pelvic pouch to reach its maximum functioning capacity. During this time, the pouch storage will increase, and bowel movements will decrease. Stools will thicken over time, and it's essential that a healthy balanced diet is followed to assist the natural process as much as possible, especially immediately post-surgery.

During the initial period, the patient can help the pouch adapt by eating small meals regularly and slowly, and by chewing food thoroughly. Adequate water intake is vital and a minimum of between eight and ten glasses a day is recommended.

It's especially important to look out for any food intolerances during this time as the patient should avoid foods that cause adverse reactions.  A whole, balanced diet including lots of potassium and sodium is highly recommended.

Foods that loosen stools such as spicy foods, baked beans, red wine and prune juice should also be avoided.

To thicken stools and decrease pouch output to help it reach its capacity, the patient should include lots of raw fruit and vegetables (like broccoli and bananas), potatoes, coconut and peanut butter in their diet.

Bloating and gas

Common side effects of a pelvic pouch are gas and bloating. These occur due to the excess bacteria in the pouch, but dietary considerations should be made when managing gas.

The patient should avoid foods that commonly cause gas such as cabbage, onions, sweet potato and asparagus while being mindful to keep up levels of fibre which are also essential to increase the pouch function.

It’s important to remember that no two pelvic pouch patients are the same.

Some foods that cause gas and bloating in one patient may not do so in others. Foods which cause gas and bloating at one time, may not do so later on for the same patient, so it's advised to trial and error with foods and not discount them long-term.

It can be overwhelming to navigate dietary changes post-pelvic pouch surgery so in the event of confusion, consult with a dietician who can assess your situation and requirements.

Contact the Core Specialist Group to make an appointment with a dietician who will help you make the right nutritional choices to adapt to life with a pelvic pouch smoothly and with minimal disruption to your life.