Tips for Dining Out with an Ostomy

After successful recovery from ostomy surgery, you should be able to resume most of your normal lifestyle activities, including dining out with friends or family.

If the thought of heading to a restaurant gives you some pause, check out some great tips and tricks for dining out with an ostomy directly from the me+™ Community – people living full lives with ostomies.​

The first thing I recommend is to ensure their pouch is empty before beginning to eat the meal.  If there are any food items or spices that an individual is avoiding, such as nuts, then they should confirm with the waiter or waitress that the menu item they ordered does not contain those items. If your meal arrives with any of those items, do not hesitate to let them know. A restaurant is not a place to take risks with food.

Ival Secrest, living with an ostomy since 1978


Enjoy life! Eat what you can and avoid what you can't. Your ostomy should not prevent you from enjoying all parts of life. 

Thomas Exler, living with an ostomy since 1969

Be vigilant about asking for exactly what you want. If consumers can request meat-free meals or gluten-free bread, then I certainly can ask for them to leave peanuts off a Chinese dish. I've been asked "oh, are you allergic?" And I say, "nope. I just don't want peanuts on my noodles."

One thing I've recently done is to be sure to ask if buns have sesame seeds on them before ordering burgers. The seeds sometimes get stuck around my stoma and cause irritation. If so, I ask for an alternative. I've even had restaurants make my burger with two bottom buns to avoid the sesame seeds. Be confident in asking for concessions like that.

Back when I was younger, I sometimes just bit the bullet and ate things at restaurants that I knew might cause some discomfort later. Not anymore. If I'm paying for a meal, I want to enjoy it, and my food issues are no different than a lot of other customers.

Ted Taylor, living with an ostomy since 1994


I love lingering over long meals and great conversation, and don’t always want to excuse myself to empty. I find that if I think about wearing clothes that are not too tight and restrictive and that offer some camouflage as my pouch fills. I can empty when I am ready, not because I am worried about people seeing my full pouch.

New foods can be daunting as you recover from surgery. When you are adjusting to your new plumbing, stick to foods you have already had success with when dining out. You would not want to let tummy troubles put a damper on an evening out. As a 15 year ostomate, I know what works for me, but it took a little while to get adventurous with my food choices.

You may feel concerned about odor that might come from emptying your pouch at a restaurant or friends home. Diamonds Gelling Sachets with Odor Control are great to ease concerns about odor and may help restore some confidence.

Sarah Biggart, living with an ostomy since 2004


Eating out is fun, sharing time with other people. Why stay home when you can go out and have fun? There is nothing wrong with going to the bathroom when you are in a restaurant. It is a public place and all public places have restrooms. If you are worried about using a public restroom, make sure that your pouch is empty before you leave the house. Otherwise, go out and enjoy yourself. Life with an ostomy is great! It sure is better for me now than it was before!

Phyllis Rovner, living with an ostomy since 1991


If using the restroom is a concern, call ahead to be sure there are multiple toilet stalls. This can provide comfort knowing you will less likely to have to wait to access a restroom should you need it quickly.

Randy Henniger, living with an ostomy since 1985

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The me+ Team is here to help you navigate dining out with an ostomy, diet and more.

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