Tag Archive for: food

National Vegetarian Week – Vegetarian with a stoma

It is National Vegetarian Week! In January this year, I decided to go veggie, something I didn’t think I would be able to do with a stoma. And so I thought this was the perfect time to write about being a vegetarian with a stoma.

Firstly, let me just say that I am no dietician or medical professional and if you are making a big change to your diet and you have underlying health problems, you should speak to someone far smarter than me. I have had a stoma since 2013 and over the past 7 years, I have figured out what works for me and what doesn’t. You know your body really well, and in my opinion diet with a stoma is totally personal and differs drastically from person to person.


When I first got my stoma, I heard these horror stories of blockages and never again being able to eat certain things. A nurse told me I would never eat curry again and coming from an Indian background, I nearly lost my head. I got a very basic pamphlet telling me to try and eat a healthy diet and that was it.

After struggling with my weight going up and down, having no energy and feeling totally adrift over what I should or shouldn’t eat now I had no large intestine, I got a referral to a dietician. It took a year to get an appointment and it was a total waste of time. At the time, I had a J pouch and she asked if she could see it… For those who don’t know, a J-Pouch is a pouch formed from your small intestine and is inside your body attaching your intestine to your rectum. She had no idea about how to advise me and just gave me the same pamphlet I had been given years before. It was a total waste of time. If you are seeing a dietician, it really needs to be one who has a good idea of diseases such as Crohns and Colitis and the body after having parts removed.


Anyway, I digress. Last year, we decided to really cut down on the amount of meat we were eating. Then I watched a documentary called Cowspiracy. It is about the environmental impact of eating meat. It made me realise all the things we were doing like recycling, not buying single use plastic etc was overshadowed by eating meat due to mass meat farming. Now this isn’t a post to preach to you about the rights or wrongs of eating meat, that is up to you. But I just wanted to explain our reasons for going vegetarian this year.

My concern was that as I don’t have a large intestine, I don’t digest food the same way as other people do. Especially non soluble fibre, so those foods that are great for someone with a full digestive system like roughage and veg. So sometimes the food I eat comes out in my bag looking very similar to how it went in. (Peas and onions, I am looking at you!)

But I know my body well now and know what I can manage and what I can’t and I have learnt to chew well. VERY WELL. And now there are very few things that I can’t eat. Some things still cause me issues, particularly black beans.

What do I eat?

So how have I found it? Well after 38 years of being a meat eater, I did miss meat at first. And I have to admit that we have had one or two meat meals since January. But once I got used to it, we actually find it easy. Meat replacement foods are much more prevalent now, so we get quorn mince, sausages and chicken nuggets and fake burgers. But generally we just eat the same meals but without the meat. Supermarkets are so much better now, we literally see the plant based food fridges expanding every month. It turns out I can be a vegetarian with a stoma!

Some of the meals we eat are;

I also love a smoothie (though they can be high in sugar so I don’t have them all the time), spinach, mango, and apple juice is a particular favourite.

Can you be vegetarian with a stoma?

I have met hundreds and hundreds of people with stomas in the past few years and every one has different food issues. Some can eat mushrooms but would be in agony and blocking up with brocolli. Some can happily eat raw carrot but not popcorn. We are all so different. And we also change. For years, I haven’t been able to eat mushrooms, they would just cause pain and blockages and come out looking whole no matter how much I chewed. But now, I eat mushrooms at least once a week.

I have read people saying that people with stomas can’t be vegetarian, and that might be true for some people. But if you want to give it a go, then it is worth a try. Think about the veg you eat now alongside your meat diet. Meat eaters still eat veg too! If your system ca manage a good amount of fruit and veg, then great!

It is also about how things are prepared. I love salad. But if I have too much then I know I struggle. The lettuce is hard on my system, but if I shred lettuce and limit it to once or twice a week then it is ok. Other veg like cabbage and brocolli can be hard to digest but if I cook them for longer so they are soft, then it is ok for me.

Digestion with a stoma

And chew. Chew, chew and chew again! Digestion starts in the mouth, so don’t be rushing meals and shoving it down. Chewing well grinds up the food into smaller pieces and increases saliva which helps the process.

When you have a stoma, it can feel like your food world shrinks and it does take some time to settle into your new digestive system. But with time and learning about your own body, you can find a diet that suits you. I know there are some people who will never manage a full veggie diet, who have a very limited diet. And this isn’t a post to talk you into changing your diet.

But if you are considering going veggie or even just having more meat free days and you think having a stoma will stop you, I just wanted to share that it can be possible to be a vegetarian with a stoma.

For inspiration, I love Pinterest and you can see my Veggie food Pinterest board here.

Let me know about your diet and what foods you can and can’t eat and if you are a vegetarian with a stoma.

Peace and love

Sam xx

The 10 best things about Sheffield

I bloody love Sheffield and so thought I’d share with you the 10 best things about the mighty Sheffield… (In my humble opinion)

1. We breed the very best folk

Jarvis Cocker, Arctic Monkeys, Jessica Ennis to name but a few.  Sheffield is home to a huge amount of amazing people, the great Sean Bean, Joe Cocker, Michael Palin also hail from our great city.

But it’s not just the famous folk, the people of Sheffield are the warmest, funniest, most generous in all the land.  After the farce of the Sheffield Half Marathon this year (officially cancelled minutes before the start) Sheffielders came through and did us all proud with local people handing out bottles and cups of water to the runners who ran anyway.

People of Sheffield are proud and no matter where they live in the world, Sheffield is always in their hearts…

jarvis cocker best sheffield folk

Totes braggy photo of me and Jarvis…

2. The Snooker makes us all fans and experts once a year

Once a year, everyone in Sheffield becomes a snooker fan! The World Snooker Championship held at Sheffield’s mighty Crucible Theatre is a sporting highlight that shines a light on our great city.

It matters not if you never look at another snooker table for the rest of the year, throughout the championships Sheffielders are experts on 147 breaks, snooker tactics and we all DEFINITELY once saw Ronnie O’Sullivan in town…

cue ball snooker sheffield

3. We have the best music scene

Sheffield has always had strong ties to live music, we have some great larger venues, but even better smaller ones that host such a range of music that fit to all tastes…  From Corporation to The Plug, Leadmill to the The Harley.

Music in Sheffield is exciting and I believe this is because we nurture young talent, a good Sheffield band take a place in your heart and are supported strongly.  And because Sheffield is the world’s biggest village (see number 10) everyone knows everyone in the music scene… This is a nice thing! Going out in town means bumping into the who’s who of Sheffield music and collaborations and musical appreciation are rife.

Go take a look at Exposed for a foray into Sheffield music awesomeness…

Some Sheffield musicians are Arctic MonkeysBring Me the HorizonPulpDef LeppardRichard HawleyLongpigsMilburnReverend and the Makers, The Long Blondes… to name but a few!

sheffield music

4. We have our own festival… Tramlines

Sheffield has it’s very own inner city Glastonbury, Tramlines festival is HUGE and takes over the whole city with venues all across Sheffield from the main stage through to bars, pubs, parks and pretty much every space going.  It’s one weekend a year where music lovers, families, hard core festival goers and festival virgins alike don a wristband and experience three days of music, arts and Sheffield love.

tramlines sheffield music festival

5. Hendersons is KING (and we are a bunch of foodies!)

Hendersons Relish… It’s a Sheffield staple.  We hold Hendersons to our heart and have a ridiculous amount of love and pride for this spicy relish!  We sing about it, make art from it, dress up like it.  It’s as big a part of Sheffield as the now destroyed Cooling Towers (See number 9!)

“It was Mr Henry Henderson who first began manufacturing his own special type of sauce back in the late part of the 19th century. Originally manufactured at 35 Broad Lane in Sheffield, Henderson’s Relish is still being made and has been in uninterrupted production within half a mile of the site from which the first bottle was filled.”

hendersons relish art jarvis cocker

This image of Jarvis Cocker is painted in the spicy yorkshire sauce

You can buy prints of this amazing work here by Neil Antcliff.

hendersons relish sheffield

But we aren’t just about the Hendos, Sheffield is fast becoming a foodie capital with amazing places to eat.  Pub grub is so much more at The Great Gatsby by Shyboy Cantina and for something a little smarter the amazing Wasabisabi is a must.  Sheffield Food blogger Feast and Glory is a great place to look for reviews and ideas on where to eat next time you are out!

6. Sheffield is the greenest city in the world!

61% of Sheffield’s entire area is green space, and a third of the city lies within the Peak District National park. There are more than 250 parks, woodlands and gardens in the city, and an estimated 2 million trees, giving Sheffield the highest ratio of trees to people of any city in Europe.  There are 4 trees to every person in Sheffield… I love that fact!!

We are currently storming ahead in a vote for Sheffield to be the best UK city for country lovers

These facts come from the Creative Sheffield site;

  • Despite its urban location almost three-quarters of the city is taken up by natural vegetation and waterways.
  • More than a third of the city is located in the Peak District National Park – no other city has a National Park within its boundary. You can find 10 epic walks in the Peak District here on the 10adventures website, all information on it is free-to-download for everyone, including GPS.
  • In addition you’ll find 150 woodlands and 50 public parks all within Sheffield and it is rumoured that there are 4 mature trees to every person living here!
  • Over 44 per cent of Sheffield residents live within a five minute walk of a wood and half the city’s population live within 15 minutes of the open countryside. Imagine that!

sheffield green city

7. We have our own language

After thas finished tha snap tha can av some spice, orate?

Gi’or wi thisen, thas gorra get dahn thi jennel.


Understood? I love the confusion on people’s faces when they listen to a full on Sheffield accent, like the Full Monty but further…

In case you were wondering the above statements say

After you have finished your food, you can have some sweets, alright?

Give over with yourself (stop yourself, calm down), you have got to go down the alleyway between two buildings.  (It is DEFINITELY a jennel and NOT a ginnel…)

8. We have a band who play ukeleles, make puns and swear a lot… Everly Pregnant Brothers

I love a ukelele.  I love puns.  So I was always going to love Everly Pregnant Brothers! A group of Sheffield men, including artist Pete McKee and singer ‘Big Shaun’, they play Sheffield ukelele versions of classic songs such as No Oven, No Pie (No woman, No cry) and Hendos (Yellow).

everly pregnant brothers timm cleasby the picture foundry

A Tramlines favourite, EPB are everything that is right and good in silly, funny music that doesn’t take itself too seriously…

If you are over 30, you may remember the Hole in The Road?! Yes? They sang about that too…

9. We all mourn the loss of the cooling towers

The Cooling Towers were an important part of Sheffield, the beacon on the M1 that said you were nearly home (or just getting to Meadowhall, yeah yeah I know I should probably have included Meadrall/MeadowHell or it’s many incarnations but you know, it’s just a massive shopping centre!!)

When they came down in 2008, a city mourned. There was an attempt to save them by artists, but alas they were demolished and an icon disappeared.

You can buy beautiful art prints by Jonathan Wilkinson here, seen below.

cooling towers sheffield

But plans to reuse the site for a £500,000 public art project are to go ahead and so perhaps we will soon have a new icon to behold!

10. We are the biggest village in the world!

We really are!  Despite a population of over 550,000, Sheffield manages to redeem the feeling of living in a large Village.  Perhaps because the city centre is the heart, with clusters of great areas surrounding or perhaps it is just the great people of Sheffield.  Either way, you know on a stroll through town or a wander on Ecclesall Road you will most likely bump into a lot of people you know!

views of sheffield

Sheffield just has a great feel to it, it has a character and an authenticity that Sheffielders hold close to their hearts.  It is a great place to live and whenever I have been away for a while, coming back into the city always lifts my soul and makes me smile.

Sheffield and proud x

Ileostomy Diet

I thought Id do a post about diet, as it’s one of the questions I get asked a lot… What can you eat?

In the long term, Im advised that I’ll be able to eat what I like within reason.  That I will find my way with foods that agree with me and foods that don’t.  The ones that don’t will be things that cause excess gas, blockages and stomach pain.

In the short term I have been advised to keep a very low fibre diet.  All the things I *think* are good for my body seem to not be right now.  The doctors say its a good idea to eat a low-fibre diet for the first few months after your operation. This is because the surgery causes your bowels to swell, making digesting fibre difficult.  Once the swelling has subsided (usually after eight weeks) you can resume a normal diet.  It is advised to avoid any foods that may cause stoma obstruction including fibrous meats, vegetables like corn, cabbage, celery, green peppers and peas; and fruit skins and seeds, nuts, dried fruits and popcorn.

diet funny ecard

The following foods are generally allowed on a low-fiber diet:

  • Enriched white bread or rolls without seeds
  • White rice, plain white pasta, noodles and macaroni
  • Crackers
  • Refined cereals such as Cream of Wheat
  • Pancakes or waffles made from white refined flour
  • Most canned or cooked fruits without skins, seeds or membranes
  • Fruit and vegetable juice with little or no pulp, fruit-flavored drinks and flavored waters
  • Canned or well-cooked vegetables without seeds, hulls or skins, such as carrots, potatoes and tomatoes
  • Tender meat, poultry and fish
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Creamy peanut butter — up to 2 tablespoons a day
  • Milk and foods made from milk, such as yogurt, pudding, ice cream, cheeses and sour cream — up to 2 cups a day, including any used in cooking
  • Butter, margarine, oils and salad dressings without seeds
  • Desserts with no whole grains, seeds, nuts, raisins or coconut

On a low fibre diet you should avoid the following foods:

  • Whole-wheat or whole-grain breads, cereals and pasta
  • Brown or wild rice and other whole grains such as oats, kasha, barley, quinoa
  • Dried fruits and prune juice
  • Raw fruit, including those with seeds, skin or membranes, such as berries
  • Raw or undercooked vegetables, including corn
  • Dried beans, peas and lentils
  • Seeds and nuts, and foods containing them
  • Coconut
  • Popcorn

One of the biggies with an ileostomy is keeping hydrated.  The large bowel takes liquid out of our foods, so in removing it, you remove a good chunk of the water our bodies need.  I have found that Im constantly thirsty and Im drinking pints and pints of squash.  I find water just goes straight through me, but adding the squash keeps it in longer.  High outputs from an internal pouch or stoma run a real risk of dehydration due to water and salt losses.  Aim for at least 8-10 cups of fluid per day, and increase this if losses are high.

If you have diarrhoea you need to ensure you are replacing both the fluids and the salts.  Over the counter remedies should be kept to hand or you can make an electrolyte mix.  I found this recipe online…

Glucose 20g

Sodium Chloride 31⁄2g

Sodium Bicarbonate 21⁄2g

Made up to one litre with tap water

You can buy the powders from any pharmacy and some supermarkets. Sodium Chloride is table salt which you may have in your home already. Sodium Bicarbonate is also known as Bicarbonate of Soda.

A good tip from my stoma nurse for dehydration is to keep some ready salted crisps in the house.  If you have a high output and are worrying about being dehydrated a packet of crisps and a sweet drink can be an instant help till you can get some Dialryte or Electrolyte mix!

Just been reminded by my sister in law of another tip! Apparently if you have diarrhoea, you can help ‘stop up’ your output by eating 30 marshmallows!! That was in the info book they gave me in hospital – I don’t know why I find it so funny but I do…

Another problem is salt.  The bowel takes the salt we need from our food, so in the first few weeks you can safely add a bit more salt to your food to ensure you are getting enough.

As always, if you are reading this and looking for advice, the best place to go is your own doctor or stoma nurse.    The information here is what I have gleaned from my health professionals and the wonder of the tinternet!

Love Sam xx