Foods that are easily digested and low in fiber allow your gastrointestinal tract to rest, by limiting the amount of undigested material and food waste that must pass through your large intestine. Your doctor may prescribe this type of diet if you suffer from digestive conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, diverticulitis or you undergo bowel surgery. A low residue, low fiber diet typically provides less than 10 g of fiber per day. This may help control diarrhea and abdominal cramping, making food more appealing and enjoyable.
Video of the Day
Vegetables are high in fiber, but you should not avoid them because they provide essential vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. You should eat up to two servings of vegetables per day, with a serving size equal to 1 cup raw, a half cup cooked or 4 oz. of vegetable juice. Vegetables are more easily digested when cooked, so eat them tender, well-cooked or canned and avoid seeds, stems or skin. Choose vegetables such as carrots, celery, eggplant, mushrooms, beets, asparagus, pureed spinach, squash, tomatoes and lettuce if tolerated. Try preparing soups, casseroles, stews and sauces that incorporate vegetables. Avoid beans, peas, cabbage, broccoli, onions, corn, kale and cauliflower.
Fruit is also an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, water and antioxidants. You should one serving of fruit each day with the skin and membranes removed. A serving of fruit may be one medium fresh fruit, a half cup canned, frozen or cut-up fruit, one-third cup dried fruit or 4 oz. of fruit juice without the pulp. Select soft, canned or cooked fruit without seeds or skins. Well-ripened bananas, soft cantaloupe, honeydew or watermelon, applesauce, peaches, apricots and strained or clear juices are good examples of well-tolerated fruits. Avoid berries, prunes and prune juice, raisins and other dried fruit.
Dairy is an important source of protein, calcium and vitamin D; however, it is not easily digested. You should consume dairy products in small amounts only if tolerated. Aim for two servings of dairy per day, with a serving equal to 1 cup of milk, 1.5 oz. of cheese or 8 oz. of yogurt. Good sources of dairy include nonfat or fat-free milk, cheese, plain yogurt, pudding and ice cream. Avoid products such as yogurt that has added nuts or seeds.
Meat, Poultry and Fish
You should eat two to three servings for a total of 6 oz. of protein-rich foods daily. A serving may be one large egg, 2 tbsp. peanut butter or 3 oz. of meat. When choosing protein-rich foods, select tender cuts of beef, lamb, ham, veal, pork, poultry and organ meats; well-cooked ground meat, fish and shellfish, smooth peanut butter, eggs or tofu. Avoid gas-producing beans and lentils, tough fibrous cuts of meat or meat with gristle. Bake, broil, or poach meat with mild seasoning, if desired.
You should eat between six and 11 servings of bread, cereal, rice, pasta and other grains each day. A serving from the grain group is equal to one slice of bread or 1 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta. Choose enriched white bread, pasta and rice; pancakes and waffles; rolls, muffins and biscuits; plain crackers, melba and matzoh; cooked oatmeal, cream of wheat and grits and cold cereals such as corn flakes, puffed rice or toasted rice. Use white flour for baking and choose cereals without whole grains, added fiber, seeds, raisins or other dried fruit. Avoid products containing whole grains, corn meal, bran, wheat germ, buckwheat, granola, seeds, coconut, wild or brown rice or graham crackers.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- MayoClinic.com: Low-fiber Diet: August 2009.
- American Cancer Society: Low Fiber Foods: March 2009.
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: Low Residue/Low Fiber Diet
- Health Castle: Low Residue Diet: Gloria Tsang, R.D.: June 2006.
- Southern New Hampshire Medical Center: Low Residue/Low Fiber Diet: June 2003.
- The Ohio State Medical Center: Low Fiber Diet: September 2010.