What is a Low-Fiber/Low-Residue Diet?
A low-fiber/low-residue diet limits the amount of dietary fiber and residue-providing food in your diet. Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plants that cannot be digested. Residue is the undigested part of food that makes up stool. Limiting dietary fiber and residue reduces the amount of food that passes through the large intestine.
Why Should I Follow a Low-Fiber/Low-Residue Diet?
This diet may be recommended if you have gastrointestinal distress or discomfort, or if your gastrointestinal system needs to rest. Conditions that may require a low-fiber/low-residue diet include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease . It may also be prescribed as a transitional diet following certain types of surgery, and if you are undergoing radiation therapy to the abdomen.
Low-Fiber/Low-Residue Diet Basics
Fiber is found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. While you can still eat some foods with fiber on this diet, high-fiber foods need to be limited. Ask your physician or registered dietitian about how many grams of fiber you can have per day.
To decrease residue, you will need to limit your intake of fiber-containing foods, and also milk and milk products. The standard low residue diet allows two cups of milk or milk products per day.
Because this diet restricts many nutrient-rich foods, it may not meet all of your vitamin and mineral requirements. Talk to your doctor or registered dietitian about whether or not you would benefit from a vitamin supplement.
Eating Guide for a Low-Fiber/Low-Residue Diet
|Food Group||Foods Recommended||Foods to Avoid|
|Meats and Beans|
|Fats and Sweets|
When shopping for food, read food labels.
- Look for products made with “refined” flour.
- Avoid products that say “whole grain” on the packaging.
- Avoid foods with the word “whole” at the beginning of the ingredient list (eg, whole wheat flour).
- Remove skins of fruits and vegetables before cooking.
- Limit intake of fatty foods as these can increase residue.
- Work with a dietitian to create a meal plan for you.
Dietitians of Canada
Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada
Low fiber diet. University of Virginia Health System website. Available at: http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu/internet/digestive-health/nutrition/low_fiber_diet.pdf . Accessed May 6, 2007.
Low residue/low fiber diet. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center website. Available at: http://patienteducation.upmc.com/Pdf/LowResLowFiber.pdf . Accessed May 6, 2007.
What is a low fiber, low residue diet? Greenwich Hospital website. Available at: http://www.greenhosp.org/pe_pdf/diet_lowfiber.pdf . Accessed May 6, 2007.
Last reviewed May 2008 by Dianne Scheinberg, MS, RD, LDN
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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