As an Ostomate-athlete, there are two questions that I get more than any others. “How do you stay hydrated?” and, “What do you eat?”. Before I dive in and answer these questions, I want all of my readers to know that I am not a nutritionist; these are meals and techniques for hydration that I’ve found work well for me and my body. I’ve done a lot of experimenting on my own to find what works for me, so I urge you to do the same! (ostomate or otherwise!)
Breakfast (part 1): Standard cup of joe in the morning. Peet’s Coffee, in case anyone was wondering. Not that I have any strong ties to a particular coffee, this one just happens to meet the 3 requirements I have of coffee: Its affordable ($6/bag), it tastes good enough to drink black, and has caffeine. Simple guy, simple needs. Of course, it is paired with my first liter of water, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
I took about 30 mins to finish the coffee and water while responding to emails (some of which were requests for a post like this!) and then I was out the door on a 2 hour bike ride.
Bike Fuel/Hydration: While riding, or doing anything that is longer than 70 mins of non-stop activity for that matter, I always bring a some form of carbohydrate to help me keep going. Since hydrating is such an important facet of my diet, I opt to use a sports drink mix that both hydrates and provides fuel. I also bring a bottle full of water with just electrolytes in it.
Some important things to note about hydration:
- The large intestine is responsible for absorbing water from food that is passed through it. This accounts for up to 30% of your daily H20 intake. (Yeah, I cited Wikipedia. Take that high school english teacher!)
- The main electrolytes I look for are potassium, sodium, and magnesium. This site briefly explains how the small intestine absorbs water using these electrolytes, and thus why they are extra important to have when you’re covering a 30% H20 deficit.
- The average person should drink at least 2.5 liters of H20 per day. (Thanks Mayo Clinic)
The last bullet shows that it would make sense for the average ostomy patient to be getting at least 3.25 liters of H20 per day, which is a 30% increase from normal. Keep in mind that your kidneys need sodium and potassium in balance with the water that you drink in order to properly absorb the water into your body. I linked a dry but highly informative article from my alma mater that explains it in more detail. The bottom line is that if you are going to be drinking more water, the amount of electrolytes you drink must increase proportionally.
The last mention about hydration that I will put on here is that 3.25 liters is a baseline. If you are like me and sweat almost as profusely and often as you work out, you will want to be getting more hydrating fluids. I aim for 6 liters a day, 3/4s of which will have some amount of added electrolytes (usually the GU TABS, pictured above). Its best to drink fluids in small sips, constantly throughout the day. The gatorade bottle I use never leaves my side.
Breakfast (pt.2): So now I’ve finished my bike ride, I’m 2.5 liters of fluid in, and I’m hungry for something more substantial. Time to scramble.
- 4 small peppers (1/2 normal pepper)
- 1 cup chopped spinach
- 3 slices of deli ham
- 4 Eggs
- Little mozzarella cheese
I usually sauté the vegetables along with the ham in a small amount of olive oil to help with digestion. Cooked veggies digest easier in the small intestine and you won’t absorb their nutrients well when uncooked unless you chew like crazy.. and ain’t nobody got time for that. (Just kidding. Seriously, its really important to chew your food well if you don’t have a colon).
I threw in a couple pieces of whole grain toast with apricot preserves too. Im not even hungry and I want to eat this meal again.
(P.S. – normally I only use 2 eggs, and add in egg whites, but I ran out of them)
- Fish oil (3000mg)
- Multi Vitamin (Gummies)
- B-Complex (w/ vit C+Folic Acid)
- Slow Release Iron (45mg)
I take fish oil to help with bone and joint health, and because having the extra Omega-3’s are god for you. There are a TON of different things that fish oil are supposed to help with. Placebo may very well be the main benefit, and if so, it seems to be working fine for me!
The Multi Vitamin speaks for itself. Can’t hurt to be taking it, especially with less time for food to be digested without a colon. That and having it in Gummie form is delicious and reminds me to take the rest of my supplements, which are far less exciting.
The Iron and the B-complex are highly related to one anther because Vitamin B helps with the absorption of Iron and the prevention of anemia. I always take Iron in either liquid or slow release capsule form for maximal absorption, and alternate between 45mg and 90mg a day. I have a history of low ferritin levels – the protein that stores Iron – even before I was diagnosed with Colitis. You need ferritin to help your body increase your hemoglobin levels, which is the protein in your red blood cells that carry oxygen to your muscles. This article goes into far more depth explaining the role of Iron and hemoglobin levels in long distance running and why it is so important if you want to read more. The main point is that if you have low ferritin or hemoglobin, you’re probably going to feel tired and you should talk to your doctor about supplementing.
- Greek Yogurt (1 cup)
- Peanut Butter (1 TBs)
- Raspberry preserve (1 TBs)
- KIND Granola (1/2 Cup)
- Trail mix (1/4 cup)
- Mixed Berries (1/2 cup)
I eat Greek Yogurt daily because I was advised that having probiotics was good for gut health; I’m trying to keep my remaining guts as heathy as possible. The trail mix, which has almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and an assortment of dried fruits tends to be the most difficult to digest, but as long as I take my time and chew it thoroughly, I haven’t had any issue. That being said, the only time I’ve ever had an issue with blockage was when I didn’t chew the trail mix enough. Just take the extra 5 seconds per bite to chew. It’s worth it.
I think it’s important to mention again that I have been constantly sipping water/GU throughout the day. By my mid afternoon snack, I am almost 4 liters and 3 GU tabs in.
After finishing my second workout for the day, which was 20 minutes of HIIT and core conditioning in the weight room, I made myself dinner! Probably my most simple meal of the day, I just cooked tortellini, added 1 big handful of spinach, added the sauce, and I was done! A lot of times I do eat meat at dinner time (Usually Chicken or
Fish), but since both the day of these meals and the day following it had so much cardio involved, I was making sure I could eat as much pasta as I could to get enough carbohydrates. I cooked the spinach slightly to make it more digestible.
I’m working on a more in depth ‘menu’ of EVERYTHING that I might eat throughout the day, along with any and all other suggestions I have, but for now, I hope this has been helpful! Please feel free to reach out if you have questions about any of what I’ve included. Also keep in mind that this is just what I’ve found works for me. Everyone’s body is different, so I urge you to try out different things until you find a system that works for you!