Low Residue Diet

female stomach

The low residue diet is often part of a treatment plan for people experiencing digestive issues. This diet limits the intake of dietary fiber to reduce the frequency and amount of stools and to slow the intestinal transit time. Not only does a low residue diet restrict the intake of fiber, but also other foods that increase bowel activity such as milk products and prunes. A typical low residue eating plan contains around 10 grams of fiber per day.

Treatment for Health Conditions with The Low Residue Diet

Certain health conditions can improve by slowing down digestive and bowel activity with restrictions of dietary fiber intake.

Diverticulitis - Some people have small pouches called diverticulum in the colon that bulge through weak spots in the colon wall. If the diverticulums become inflamed they cause the condition known as diverticulitis. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation.

Crohn's Disease - A chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines. The most common symptoms associated with Crohn's Disease are weight loss, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. There are other symptoms such as night sweats and rectal bleeding as well. The symptoms of Crohn's Disease vary depending on the location and extent of the inflammation.

Ulcerative Colitis - Like Crohn's Disease, ulcerative colitis is a form or Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Ulcerative colitis causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract and can become a life threatening problem. Symptoms are abdominal pain and diarrhea.

All of these health conditions can benefit from the slowing of the digestive process by limiting the intake of fiber. Other situations which may call for a low residue diet are the first and second phases of labor, chemotherapy, and in preparation for a colonoscopy.

Recommended Foods

Removing roughage and other indigestible materials from your daily intake while following this diet takes forethought and planning. Most healthy diets focus on large amounts of fruits and vegetables, which is in opposition to low fiber intake. The following table may help you with food choices.

Recommended Foods
Food Group Allow Avoid
Dairy Limit to 2 cups per day, ice cream, milk, cream soups, and cheeses More than 2 ups per day
Bread White bread and crackers Whole grain, high fiber breads
Meat Most baked or broiled meat, fish and hard cooked eggs Fried meats, spicy meat, and soft cooked eggs
Starch White rice, pasta, skinless potatoes Brown rice, fried potatoes, waffles, potato chips
Cereal Corn flakes, puffed rice, cheerios, strained oatmeal, cream of wheat Oat bran, puffed wheat, shredded wheat, granola

Other foods to avoid include coconut, dried peas and beans, nuts, seeds, and chunky peanut butter.

Be Informed

Discuss this diet with your doctor. Ask for information about the low residue diet to be sure it is right for you. You may wish to read about this diet and the conditions it is most often prescribed for. The book "Good Food for Bad Stomachs" by Henry Janowitz is a guide to understanding diet and how it affects the digestive tract. Or you may want to pick up a copy of "Eating for IBS" by Heather Van Vorous to get ideas for tasty low residue meals.

Low Residue Diet