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Diet Modifications to Help You Handle a Small Bowel Obstruction

If you suspect you have a small bowel obstruction, you should immediately see a doctor. A small bowel obstruction occurs when the small intestine becomes cinched, preventing solid food from passing through the intestine. Not only is your body unable to absorb the nutrients it needs, it is unable to eliminate toxic material. A blockage can also cause extreme pain and bloating as food and gas back up.

While you are waiting to see the doctor or trying to select the best treatment option, you can make changes in your diet to help you cope with the pain, bloating, lack of nutrients, and toxic build-up.*

Do not eat solid food. If your small bowel is blocked, there may only be a small passage for food. Solid food may be too large, so it is suggested you drink only liquids. While this may be difficult, remember, that these dietary changes are only temporary until you receive treatment.

Blend and juice vital nutrients. To ensure you are receiving the nutrients you need, blend nutritious food in a food processor or blender until the consistency is as close to a liquid as possible. Do not try blending any type of meat – not only is it difficult to “blend” meat, but it is significantly harder for the intestine to process meat. To get more nutrients, use a juicer. Use as many organic, fresh fruits and vegetables as you can. This is the time to throw in kale, spinach, and other nutritious foods that your body is lacking due to the blockage and the inability to process solid foods. To mask the taste, try mixing in carrots, sweet potatoes, and apples.

Do not eat or drink any unhealthy food. Because your body is unable to process or eliminate food, it is depleted of nutrients and considerably more toxic. You do not want to add to this by eating or drinking any beverages that will add more unnecessary chemicals or unhealthy additives to your body. This means no soda (which can also be problematic due to the carbonation), no processed food, no fatty foods, etc. You want to do everything you can to only provide nutrients for your body.

Drink Slowly. Drinking too quickly can cause you to swallow air. While the air is obviously harmless, it can add to the build-up of gasses and the subsequent pain from bloating.

Increase your fiber. Fiber helps waste move through the small intestines. Because you can only drink liquids, try mixing in some flax seed, blended prunes, or other fiber-rich choices.

Avoid gassy foods. A small blockage can cause gas to build up, creating significant pain. Avoiding food (even in liquid form) that contributes to gas will prevent further pain. Common foods that cause gas are cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, etc.), milk products, onions, artichokes, pears, and wheat.

Avoid foods that promote inflammation. Inflammation causes the tissues of the body to swell, meaning the passage of food to your intestines could become smaller. Common foods that cause inflammation include sugar, refined carbohydrates, and gluten-containing foods (wheat, flour, etc.) To learn more about what you can do to reduce inflammation naturally, please read Anti-Inflammatories and Reducing Inflammation Naturally.

This diet should only be used as a temporary measure while you are either waiting to speak with a doctor or being treated for a small bowel obstruction. Learn more about treatment for bowel obstruction.

*These suggestions are not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor or nutritionist.

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