Special Diets for Bowel Perforation

A perforated bowel is a medical emergency that can occur where a hole is created in any area of the digestive tract, including the stomach, small intestine or large intestine. Symptoms associated with this condition include fever, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain and tenderness. Treatment for this condition requires surgery to properly repair, as the hole will not close on its own. Following surgery, a gradually weaning back onto a solid food diet is necessary.

Clear Liquid Diet

Follow a clear liquid diet to begin your return to normal eating after your bowel perforation is repaired. While on a clear liquid diet, you can only consume foods through which you can see (with the exception of tea and coffee, which are still permitted). Sample foods while following this approach include sports drinks, gelatin, water, clear sodas, fruit juices and strained broth, according to the Mayo Clinic. Although restrictive, you will likely only be on this diet for a few days at most (certainly less than a week) giving your digestive system time to heal from surgery before bombarding it with solid food again, according to the Mayo Clinic. Additional information about a clear liquid diet is linked below in the Resources.

Soft Food Diet

Transition yourself from a clear liquid diet to a soft food diet upon receiving the green light from your physician. A soft food diet consists of foods that are simple to chew and digest, including dinner rolls, white bread items, pancakes, waffles, plain cereal (without toppings), cooked fruits, applesauce, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, soups, soft meats and well-cooked beans. A soft food diet can last up to a week or two, providing your body with a bridge between a liquid diet and a full solid food diet. Additional instructions for a soft food diet are linked below in the resources.

Solid Food Diet

Change to a full solid food diet upon receiving the go-ahead from your supervising physician. The only real caveat here is that you might want to limit fibre in your diet (gradually increasing the amount of fibre consumed) to assess tolerance. This means avoiding high-fibre foods such as broccoli, oats and whole grains at first. Take a steady and gradual approach to fibre consumption, beginning with a nominal amount (such as 10 grams per day) and slowly adding in three or four more grams every week until you have reached your normal level of fibre consumption again. For example, during week one on a solid food diet you will limit yourself to 10 grams of fibre per day, during week two you should limit yourself to 14 grams of fibre per day, and so on. Take things slow and easy to give your digestive system the best chance of making a full recovery from a bowel perforation. Do not rush the process for the sake of satiating your palate in the meantime.

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