It’s estimated that, on average, North Americans consume less than 50% of the daily recommended levels of fibre- which could be a problem, since fibre consumption has been shown to significantly reduce blood cholesterol levels, lower variance in blood sugar levels and facilitate regularity.

But not everyone should be eating a diet rich in fibre. We recently received an inquiry from a patient looking for low-fibre recipes that would be suitable for a post-ileostomy diet. This individual was also instructed by a physician to put on weight. Tricky!


Let’s discuss each problem independently of the other. Putting on weight safely and healthfully can be just as difficult as losing weight can be. The key is to keep your diet healthy, while introducing more calorie-dense foods. Katherine Zeratsky, Registered Dietitian with the Mayo Clinic, suggests the following, upon clearance from your physician:

  • Eat more frequently- five to six small meals through the day
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods, like nuts, seeds, lean protein, low-fat dairy products etc
  • Drink fluids at least 30 minutes before meals, but not with. This will let you keep your appetite for the nutritious foods you’ll be eating
  • Limit diet soda, coffee and tea. These items have little nutritional value and few calories. Instead, consider homemade smoothies with a variety of fresh fruits and lean dairy products
  • Add calorie-dense snacks, such as nuts, peanut butter, cheese, dried fruits, or avocado. You may with to have a small bedtime snack as well.
  • Add cheese to casseroles, soups and scrambled eggs; nonfat dried milk to stews, and lean chicken to soups
  • When selecting sweets, be sure to select items that also provide nutrients. Yogurt, fruit and granola bars are good choices.
  • Exercise! It may seem counter-intuitive, but regular exercise will stimulate your appetite. If your doctor condones it, consider starting a moderate weight training routine as well.

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The British Columbia Cancer Agency has created an excellent resource on low-fibre options that you may wish to share with your doctor or Registered Dietitian when creating an ileostomy-friendly diet plan. Among their recommendations:

  • Have very small servings of food
  • Eat more often throughout the day. Aim for six to seven small snacks per day
  • Drink as much as you can. Aim for six to eight cups of fluids per day
  • A multivitamin and mineral supplement may be necessary if your diet is very restricted
  • Avoid any foods that make your symptoms worse. These might include: vegetables like booked spinach, swiss chard, and peas; Figs/dates, prunes and some berries; High-fibre cereals like All Bran, Shredded Wheat or Raisin Bran; whole-wheat pastas and breads; Snacks such as popcorn; Legumes such as beans, chickpeas and lentils
  • You may be more comfortable with low-fibre foods, including: vegetables such as asparagus, cucumber, peppers, skinless potatoes, tomato, lettuce and mushrooms; fruits such as cantaloupe, banana, watermelon and grapes; hot cereals such as Cream of Wheat; Cold cereals such as Rice Krispies or Cornflakes; White, cracked wheat or 60% whole wheat bread, plain bagels or flatbreads; regular noodles and pastas; white ric; any lean meat; any lean dairy
  • If your symptoms become more frequent and intense, your doctor may recommend temporarily cutting out fruits and vegetables alltogether, or temporarily avoiding all solid foods

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What to Eat During Cancer Treatment by Jeanne Besser, Kristina Ratley, Sheri Knecht and Michele Szafranski

The American Cancer Society’s new cookbook, What to Eat During Cancer Treatment, helps cancer patients and their caregivers by providing great recipes and useful, comforting advice about cancer nutrition.

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The Cancer Lifeline Cookbook by Kimberly Mathai, MS, RD and Ginny Smith

The Cancer Lifeline Cookbook is designed to help patients through difficult nutritional situation. Kimberly Mathai, a registered dietitian, and Ginny Smith, a freelance health journalist worked together to create this resource.

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Foods that Fight Cancer by Richard Béliveau and Denis Gingras

Over 138,000 French-language copies sold, now available in English! A highly accessible and practical text, with beautiful full-colour illustrations.

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