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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 doctor 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, milk and milk products, and caffeine. The standard low-residue diet allows 2 cups of milk or milk products per day. You may need to avoid milk if you are lactose intolerant.
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 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 (like 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.
American Society for Nutrition
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Dietitians of Canada
Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada
Nutrition care manual. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Available at: http://www.nutritioncaremanual.org. Accessed November 17, 2014.
- Reviewer: Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
- Review Date: 12/2015
- Update Date: 11/17/2014