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Low-residue fiber diet

Alternate Names

Fiber diet - low-residue; Low-fiber diet

Definition

When you are on a low residue fiber diet, you will eat low-fiber foods that are easy for your body to digest. Eating these foods may slow down your bowel movements.

This diet can include foods you are used to eating, like cooked vegetables, fruits, white breads, and meats. It does NOT include foods that make your bowels work more, like beans and legumes, whole grains, many raw vegetables and fruits, and nuts and seeds.

Your goal is to eat less than 10 to 15 grams of fiber each day.

This diet gives you proteins, fluids, salts, and minerals you need. With the right food choices, you can get enough nutrition from this diet. If you are on this diet for a long time, you may have to take supplements, such as vitamin C, calcium, folic acid, and others. Check with your doctor.

Why You Need This Diet

You may need to be on a low residue fiber diet if you have diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or bowel inflammation. Sometimes people are put on this diet after certain kinds of surgery, such as an ileostomy or colostomy. You may need to follow this diet only for a short period of time or for the rest of your life. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian for help with meal planning.

What You Can Eat and Drink

Here are some of the foods recommended for a low residue fiber diet. It is still possible for some of these foods to upset your system. Talk to your doctor about your diet and any signs that foods are making your problem worse.

Milk products:

  • You may have up to 2 cups total of smooth milk products a day. This includes yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, pudding, or creamy soup, or 1.5 ounces of hard cheese.
  • Avoid milk products with nuts, seeds, fruit, or vegetables added to them.

Breads and grains:

  • You may have refined white breads, dry cereals (such as Special K, puffed rice, Corn Flakes, and Rice Krispies), white pasta, and crackers. Make sure these foods have less than a half (0.5) a gram of fiber per serving.
  • Do NOT eat whole-grain breads, crackers and cereals, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice.

Vegetables: You may eat these vegetables raw:

  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Onions
  • Zucchini

You can eat these vegetables if they are well-cooked or canned (without seeds). You can also drink juices made from them if they do not contain seeds or pulp:

  • Yellow squash (without seeds)
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes, without skin
  • Green beans
  • Wax beans
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Carrots

Do NOT eat any vegetable that is not on the list above. Do NOT eat vegetables raw that are okay to eat cooked. Avoid vegetables and sauces with seeds, such as tomato sauce. Do NOT eat popcorn.

Fruits:

  • You may have fruit juices without pulp and many canned fruits or fruit sauces, such as applesauce.
  • Raw fruits you can have are very ripe apricots, bananas and cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, nectarines, papayas, peaches, and plums. Avoid all other raw fruit.
  • Fruits to avoid are canned or raw pineapple, fresh figs, berries, all dried fruits, fruit seeds, and prunes and prune juice.

Protein:

  • You may eat cooked meat (including bacon), fish, poultry, eggs, and smooth peanut butter. Make sure your meats are tender and soft, not chewy with gristle.
  • Avoid deli meats, crunchy peanut butter, nuts, beans, tofu, and peas.

Fats, oils, and sauces:

  • You may eat butter, margarine, oils, mayonnaise, whipped cream, and smooth sauces and dressings.
  • Smooth condiments are okay.
  • Do NOT eat very spicy foods and dressings. Avoid chunky relishes and pickles.

Other foods and drinks:

  • You may eat plain cakes, cookies, pies, Jell-O, sugar, and hard candies.
  • Do not eat desserts that contain fruits that are not okay to eat, nuts, or coconut. Avoid chocolate that contains cocoa powder.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Ask your doctor if alcohol is okay.

Review Date: 11/12/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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