Although the hospitality sector has experienced difficult times over the past couple of years, dining out is still one of the UK’s favourite things to do. But when you’re an ostomate, the idea of going to a restaurant might make you a little nervy, especially if you’re new to having a stoma.
Below, we’ll share some top tips to make your next meal out as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.
Things to do ahead of your meal
Every ostomate is different. Some of you may be able to eat anything you like without unwanted after-effects, but others may have to be more careful and strategic when heading out for a meal. If this is the case, here are some tips you may find helpful…
Check the menu before you go
Firstly, it’s well worth checking the menu of where you’ll be eating ahead of time for certain foods that you can’t tolerate. If the menu isn’t available online, then be sure to discuss your requirements with staff
Stick to your schedule if possible
If you tend to eat at the same time every day, then try to book the table so it coincides with when you’d usually eat. The longer you wait between meals, the more chance air can build up, which can become uncomfortable.
Of course, this isn’t always going to be possible. If the meal is a little later than you’re used to, then it can be useful to have a small snack a few hours before you’re due to sit down.
Stick with the food you’re familiar with
Opting for food you’re used to eating at home is a good idea, as you’ll be able to gauge how your body reacts. As you become more aware of what you can eat, you can be a bit more adventurous with your choices. It’s also a great way of boosting your confidence if dining out is proving to be more of a worry than you thought.
Make sure you have everything you need to change your bag
Any time you are out and about it is useful to make sure you have all you need to change your stoma bag. You might want to include:
- A pre-cut stoma bag
- Adhesive remover
- Wipes or Paper towels
- Something to dispose your used stoma bag in
- Sanitising gel for your hands can also be useful
What to do when you get there
When you arrive, locating the toilet facilities, might just help you feel more relaxed. You could even call ahead to check that there are multiple cubicles or sufficient disabled toilets if the place gets busy, and make sure you’re seated within easy access.
If in doubt, ask the staff
Restaurants are more than ever used to dealing with specific dietary requirements, so don’t be afraid to ask about what’s in your dish or request to have specific ingredients omitted. You may feel you’re being “fussy” by doing so, but it could make all the difference to your enjoyment.
Watch what you’re drinking
Drinking carbonated beverages such pop, beer and fizzy water can make you feel bloated and gassy, so it’s best to practice moderation. Some people also find it a good idea to avoid using a straw, as this can lead to gas. Ask the restaurant for a jug of water for the table – it doesn’t have to be the expensive bottled stuff.
Enjoy your food
It’s always a good idea to take your time over your meal. Not only will you be able to savour the flavour of each mouthful, chewing your food slowly and thoroughly breaks down chunks of food and reduces the chance of blockages and discomfort.
What to do in the event of a stoma leak
If you notice a leak, simply excuse yourself and head to the nearest toilet. Here’s where the extra pouch from your kit will come in handy. It can be upsetting when you experience a leak when out and about but by being prepared you can minimise some of the stress.
Having a stoma shouldn’t stop you from eating at restaurants. Above all, remember to enjoy yourself, the company you’re in, and the delicious food you’re about to eat.
At Trio, we’re dedicated to letting you live your life your way: comfortably, safely and worry-free. To check out our essential range of skincare products head here, and for more stoma advice, news and guest posts, take a look at the Trio blog here.