Nutrition is important for your health and energy. Below are guidelines to help you maintain good nutrition after surgery. These guidelines will also help your body adjust to the ileal pouch.

The pouch diet will decrease stress on the bowels while you recover from surgery. This diet will also help you slowly advance back to a normal healthy diet.

Your pouch will keep on adapting to your body for about a year after surgery.

  • Pouch capacity will increase and the number of bowel movements per day will decrease.

  • Stool consistency will change over time.

Keep in mind that each person responds to the surgery and recovery process in a different way. You will need to find a diet approach that works best for you. There is quite a lot of trial and error that takes place during these months. Try to be patient and assure yourself that sooner or later you will find a diet that works for you.

Your First Diet After Surgery

Moving Back to Solid Foods

Follow a soft, low fiber, high protein diet. This will allow the bowels to heal. It will also decrease problems linked with starting solid food.

At first, you should avoid foods high in acid. This includes orange juice, lemonade, and tomato products. These foods may cause burning due to frequent bowel movements. You can add these foods back to your diet as you have less bowel movements. Also avoid nuts, seeds, and hulls until your doctor approves.

Foods You Can Eat

  • Canned fruits

  • Cheese

  • Cooked vegetables

  • Fish

  • Milk

  • Potatoes

  • Pasta

  • Poultry

  • White bread

  • White rice

  • Yogurt

Foods to Avoid

  • Dried fruit

  • Fatty meats

  • Nuts

  • Popcorn

  • Seeds

  • Raw fruits and vegetables

Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of fluid daily.

At first, you are at risk for dehydration because of the number of stools you may have. You need to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water or sugar free, non-carbonated, non-caffeinated drinks throughout the day. You can use sports drinks because of their electrolyte content. The color of your urine should be clear to pale yellow. If it is darker, increase your fluid intake.

Moving to a Healthy, High Fiber Diet

Several weeks after the surgery we will tell you to start a high fiber diet.

Remember tolerance to foods varies by person. Have patience and go slowly when bringing foods back into your diet. This will help you assess how you tolerate certain foods and if you have any problems. You may find it helpful to keep a food journal. If you notice side effects from a certain food, wait and try it again in a few weeks.

  • Avoid nuts, seeds and hulls until your doctor approves.

  • Slowly increase the amount of fiber in the diet to 20-25gm per day. Fiber will help decrease the number of stools you have.

  • Drink 6-8 glasses of fluid each day.

  • Eating may cause bowel movements. Try to avoid eating between meals or late at night to regulate your bowel pattern.

  • Chew your food well to prevent a blockage.

  • Follow a well-balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

Online resource for patients who have an internal ileal pouch:

Call your doctor or dietician if you have any questions or concerns.

Teach Back

  • What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?

  • What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?


If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions, please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at

Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.

Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770.

If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.