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Nutrition guidelines for people with SBS

Proper nutrition is critical to manage Short Bowel Syndrome and maintain optimal health. Nutritional guidelines will vary by individual depending on a number of factors such as how much of the bowel has been removed and how many hours a person relies on parenteral support.

Unless otherwise instructed by your physician, in general, you should eat small and frequent meals to help control symptoms and result in better digestion and absorption. Drink sufficient fluids as advised by your treating physician although you should limit fluid intake during meals to 4 ounces to help with proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Work with your doctor or dietitian to determine an individual plan for you.

People with SBS who are on an oral diet should try to make healthy choices, including meals and snacks that are:

  • High in protein such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy and smooth peanut butter
  • High in refined or low fiber complex carbohydrates such as white bread, cereals such as corn flakes, potatoes without skin, white rice and pasta
  • Moderate in fat such as oils, butter, margarine, mayonnaise, gravies, cream sauces and regular salad dressing
  • Low in fiber such as canned fruit, fresh fruit without skins or seeds, oatmeal and other oat products, legumes and lentils.

Foods to avoid include:

  • High in concentrated sweets such as sugar (cookies, cakes, candies, chocolate, fruit drinks), honey and pancake syrup
  • High-lactose (if lactose intolerant) such as milk, cheese or other dairy products
  • High in oxalate such as tea, coffee, cola drinks, nuts, soy products, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, celery, berries, tangerines, rutabagas and wheat germ
  • Insoluble fibers such as whole wheat and whole grain breads, crackers, cereals and bran
  • Difficult to digest such as whole nuts, seeds, coconut, fruit skins and peels, dried fruits

You may find a registered dietitian or certified nutrition support clinician to be a helpful partner in meal planning.