A low-residue diet, prescribed for a variety of illnesses and conditions, eases the burden on the bowels, allowing them to work at a more leisurely pace. The diet’s central requirement is food that is easily and more completely digestible. The typical low-residue diet contains less than 10 grams to 15 grams of fiber daily, because high-fiber foods make the body work harder during the digestive process and leave more residue, notes MedlinePlus from the National Institutes of Health.
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Meat, Fish, Poultry and Cheese
Allowable foods in the meat category include tender cuts of beef, pork, lamb, veal, poultry and fish, according to the Southern New Hampshire Medical Center. Other appropriate meats and seafood include sweetbreads, liver, kidneys, chopped clams and oysters. Foods in this category should be broiled, roasted, stewed or creamed. You also may eat American, cheddar, jack or Swiss cheese, as well as cream and cottage cheese.
Dairy, Eggs, Fats and Oils
On a low-residue diet, you may consume up to 2 cups daily of milk and other milk products, such as almond, lactose-free, rice and soy milks, yogurt and ice cream, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Eggs are also permitted. Allowable oil-based products include vegetable oils, mayonnaise and salad dressings without seeds. You may also eat modest amounts of butter and/or margarine.
Fruits and Vegetables
You can eat most cooked or canned vegetables without skin or seeds and cooked or canned fruits with skin (except pineapple), the UPMC explains. Other allowable vegetable and fruit products include lettuce; vegetable juice without pulp or seeds; applesauce; ripe bananas, cantaloupes and honeydew melons; and fruit juice without pulp.
Breads and Cereals
Cereal lovers will be able to eat their fill of refined, cooked and ready-to-eat cereals made of corn, oats, rice and wheat but should steer clear of whole-grain cereals such as bran, granola and oatmeal, and those with dried fruits and nuts. Low-residue dieters also may eat refined white, light wheat or rye bread and rolls, saltines or soda crackers. Eat white and not brown rice and pasta made with refined grains, not whole grains.
Desserts and Sweets
The UPMC says that plain cakes, cookies and pies are fine as long as they are made with allowable fruits and contain no nuts. Also permitted are plain hard candy, fruit ice and sherbet. To this list, the SNHMC adds plain puddings, custard, gelatin, junket and tapioca.
Other allowable foods include salt, pepper and spices, plain gravy, strained soups, jelly, honey, syrup and carbonated beverages, according to the UPMC. The two medical centers disagree about the advisability of coffee and tea on a low residue diet, with the SNHMC listing the beverages on its allowable list, while the UPMC says to avoid them. Check with your doctor to confirm whether coffee and/or tea are allowed on your diet.