Low-residue diet refers to a low-fibre diet. Fruits and vegetables have a large amount of fibre, improving digestion. Therefore, it’s generally advisable to eat high-fiber food products. In a low-residue diet, you must avoid fruits with fibre and check the packaging before eating any packaged food. A low-residue diet has its pros and cons. Health professionals recommend low-carb diets for various clinical situations and illnesses. Until recently, doctors recommended only liquid diets for bowel preparation before colonoscopies and colorectal surgery. Numerous studies have shown improved or equal intestinal hygiene in patients who have eaten a low-residue diet rather than consuming only liquid foods. A low-residue diet is usually prescribed to patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Healthcare advisers recommend low-carb diets for one reason: to reduce the risk of increased inflammation by reducing colon function and allowing bowel relaxation. It is also beneficial for patients with infectious colitis or malignant diverticulitis.
A 7-Day Low-Residue Diet Plan
If you are unsure about what to include in the diet, it is always best to take the advice of a nutritionist. Here is a sample 7-day diet plan that might help you plan your low-residue diet. It is an accumulation of some fibre-free food products that you can eat in a low-residue diet. However, the given general plan is a sample.
Breakfast – White toast, canned tuna with low-fat mayonnaise, and apple juice; Lunch – Tomato soup and Canned vegetables; Dinner – Yogurt, very ripe banana and white toast with butter;
Breakfast – White toast, boiled eggs, avocado; Lunch – Smooth butter on white bread, ripe banana slices, skim milk; Dinner – Poached chicken, tomato sauce, and cheese
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, mashed sweet potato (without skin) Lunch – Meatloaf, mashed potatoes (without skin), white bread; Dinner – Poached chicken thigh, boiled carrots, white rice;
Breakfast – White flour waffles and apple juice; Lunch – White rice, cooked salmon, mayo and sesame oil sauce, cooked mushrooms; Dinner – White pasta, cheddar cheese, tomato sauce, ground beef, etc.
Breakfast – White flour pancakes, cooked and strained blueberries, ripe banana, yoghurt; Lunch – White egg noodles, cream, peeled cooked carrots, mayonnaise, sauteed asparagus tips; Dinner – White tortilla, chicken soup, cooked diced tomatoes (without skin), sour cream, etc.
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs, mashed sweet potato (without skin), skim milk; Lunch – Sweet potato and cream soup, sauteed asparagus tips; Dinner – Chicken soup with peeled, cooked potatoes and carrots, dinner roll
Breakfast – Applesauce, white muffin, skim milk; Lunch – Egg salad made with mayonnaise, white bread, and soft melon; Dinner – Minestrone made with white pasta, cooked peeled vegetables and canned tomato sauce, white dinner roll with butter
Foods to Include
In a low-residue diet, there is no complete avoidance of any food product. The chief point is to avoid adding anything that contains fibre. For example, fruits like oranges have a high fibre content. But if you want to incorporate them into your diet, you can go for orange juice. It automatically eliminates the fibre content. Food products with low-fibre content are: 1. Bread, Cereals, Rice, and Pasta
- Enriched white bread, rolls, biscuits, muffins, crackers
- French toast, pancakes, and waffles
- Refined cold cereals: puffed rice, puffed wheat, corn flakes
- White rice pasta
- Canned or cooked fruits
- Strained fruit juice
- Ripe bananas
- Soft melon
3. Milk and Dairy Products
- Milk, yoghourt, custard, and ice cream
- Cheese and cottage cheese
- Well-cooked and canned vegetables without seeds
- Strained vegetable juice
- Potatoes without skin
5. Meats, Poultry, Fish, and Eggs
- Ground, well-cooked/tender beef, lamb, ham, veal, pork, fish, poultry, and organ meats.
6. Fats, Condiments, and Beverages
- Butter, oils, mayonnaise, sour cream, salad dressing, plain gravies
- Sugar, clear jelly, honey, and syrup
- Spices, cooked herbs, bouillon, broth, and soups made with recommended foods
- Coffee, tea, and carbonated beverages -plain cakes and cookies
- Gelatin, puddings, custard, ice cream, sherbet, popsicles
Foods to Avoid
Knowing what you cannot eat in a low-residue diet is more important. 1. Bread, Cereals, Rice, and Pasta
- Bread products made with whole-grain flour, seeds, nuts, fruit,
- Cornbread and graham crackers
- Brown rice, wild rice, and buckwheat -whole grain cereals, bran cereals, granola-type cereals, and cereals with nuts, seeds, coconut, or dried fruit
- Raw or dried fruit
- All berries
- Prune juice
3. Milk and Dairy Products
- Yoghurt with nuts or seeds
- Raw vegetables and vegetables with seeds
- Sauerkraut, winter squash, and peas
- Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, cauliflower, baked beans, corn
- Potatoes with skin.
5. Meats, Seeds, and Nuts
- Tough, fibrous meats with gristle
- Dry beans, peas, and lentils
- Peanut butter
6. Fats, Snacks, Condiments, and Beverages
- Nuts, seeds, coconut
- Jam, marmalade, and preserves
- Pickles, olives, relish, and horseradish
- All desserts containing nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut or made from whole grains or bran
- Candy made with nuts or seeds
Pros of a Low-Residue Diet
Preps the Bowel Before Surgery or Colonoscopy
Doctors recommend a liquid diet before a colonoscopy or bowel surgery. The process is called bowel prep, where the bowel system prepares for the surgery. It is vital to keep the colon clean before performing a colonoscopy. As per a study, a low-residue diet is effective for intestinal preparation before a colonoscopy.
Helps with Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a common disorder involving chronic digestive tract inflammation. The types of inflammatory bowel disease include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In this disease, the digestive tract swells up, which causes discomfort and pain during bowel movements. The fibre content increases the stool size, making the patient uncomfortable. In addition, since the digestive tract becomes very sensitive, fibre-rich food might cause extreme pain. Hence, it is vital to follow a low-residue diet if you are suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. However, it is essential to consult the doctor about the condition beforehand.
May Reduce Diarrhoea
Diarrhoea causes loose, watery stools (bowel movements). Acute diarrhoea is a type of diarrhoea that lasts a short time. It is a common problem and can occur in any age group. It usually lasts about one or two days, but it may last longer according to the seriousness of the condition. If you have diarrhoea, it is advisable to eat low-residue food. With a low-residue diet, less stool gets formed. Therefore, it gradually relieves the symptoms of diarrhoea. It is also helpful in case of bloating or gas issues.
It Acts as a Transition From a Liquid Diet to a Solid Diet.
Many people follow a liquid-only diet. However, it is vital to switch back to solid food sometimes. The body will resist the change if you suddenly shift to a solid diet after a long time of a liquid diet. Therefore, it is essential to make the shift gradually and not abruptly. The low-residue diet helps in this transition.
Helps Resolve Gastroparesis
Gastroparesis is a disease that causes delayed gastric emptying. If you are suffering from gastroparesis, a low-residue diet will be helpful. According to a study, diarrhoea is the general cause of gastroparesis. It makes the stomach feel full shortly after starting the meal. It can also be cured by following a low-residue diet.
The HealthifyMe Note
A low-residue diet is good for your digestive health if you have some type of IBD or require colon surgery. The direct shift from a liquid to a solid diet would be detrimental to the gut. The low residue diet is efficient for transitioning from a liquid to a solid diet.
Cons of a Low Residue Diet
Reduces Fibre Content
Fibre content is vital for a healthy body, and a low-residue diet prohibits fibre consumption. However, a low fibre diet may cause constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, heart disease and some cancers. Therefore a low-residue diet is suitable only for specific conditions.
Causes Nutrient Deficiencies
Avoiding certain foods can cause you to skip essential nutrients, which may lead to certain nutrient deficiencies. If you have been prescribed a low-residue diet, consult a doctor about when you can shift to a regular balanced diet. It is better not to continue the low-residue diet for longer since it may also cause blood sugar fluctuations.
Reduces Bowel Movement
If you are following a low-residue diet, it will reduce bowel production in the body. Fibre softens and expands the size of your stool. It promotes good bowel health. Constipation or irritable bowel syndrome can result from a low-fibre diet.
May Cause Excess Hunger
Fibre gets broken down gradually once it enters the stomach. Due to the slow breakdown of fibre, your stomach remains full for a long time. If you start feeling hungry soon after your meal, there is a possibility that you need more fibre in your body. If you start eating more, you will gain more weight which can cause high blood sugar or diabetes.
The HealthifyMe Note
A low fibre/low residue diet is a diet that aims for fewer and decreased bowel movements each day. It limits dietary fibre to less than 10-15g per day. Health professionals recommend a low-residue diet only when individuals suffer from specific health conditions. However, one should not follow it for an extended period.
It is generally advisable to eat high-fibre food products. In a low-residue diet, you must avoid fruits containing fibre and products like nuts, seeds, coconut, jam, marmalade, pickles, olives, relish, and horseradish. Make sure that you avoid all desserts containing nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut, or made from whole grains or bran. The pros of a low-residue diet include bowel preparation before surgery or colonoscopy, which helps cure inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and gastroparesis. It is also beneficial for people transitioning from a liquid to a regular balanced or solid diet. The cons of the low-residue diet include reduced bowel movement. It may also cause excess hunger and result in weight gain. It can also cause nutrient deficiencies if continued for an extended period. Therefore, it would be best if you continued a low-residue till it is required.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What foods are low in residue?
A. There are a large number of options for a low-residue diet. You can include refined grain products like white bread, cereals, pasta, white rice, juices without pulp or seeds, meats, fish, and eggs. Furthermore, you can eat various other vegetables like carrots, cucumber, mushrooms, etc. You need to ensure that the vegetables are well-cooked and seedless. One can also consume dairy products like milk, yoghurt, puddings, and cream-based soups.
Q. Can I eat salad on a low-residue diet?
A. Yes, one can eat a salad on a low-residue diet is completely fine. You need to make sure that the vegetable is not high in fibre. You should cook the vegetables soft, peeled, and without seeds. In addition, you can include well-cooked or canned vegetables, no skins or seeds, eggplant, beets, carrots, asparagus, yellow squash, spinach, pumpkin, and potatoes.
Q. How do you eat a low-residue diet?
A. Low-residue diet refers to the low fibre content in the diet. In a low residue diet, you must avoid products with fibre, typically consumed if you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or gastroparesis. It is advisable to follow the low-residue diet only if the doctor has prescribed it.
Q. Can you eat cheese on a low-residue diet?
A. Yes, you can eat cheese on a low-residue diet. In a low-residue diet, you can consume other dairy products like milk, yoghurt, custard, ice cream, and cottage cheese. Although you need to be very sure that you do not eat yoghurt or ice cream containing nuts. You cannot eat nuts in a low-residue diet.
Q. Can you eat macaroni and cheese on a low-residue diet?
A. Yes, you can eat macaroni on a low-residue diet. Macaroni and cheese are both low-residue products. But if you plan to eat out, ensure you do not include any other fibre-containing food product in your macaroni and cheese.
Q. Can you eat mashed potatoes on a low-residue diet?
A. Yes, mashed potatoes are advisable in a low-residue diet. However, you must ensure that you peel off the potato properly. It would be best if you were sure not to eat the potato peel. Also, do not add any other high-fibre ingredients to your mashed potatoes.
Q. Can you eat pizza on a low-residue diet?
A. Pizza is considered low-fibre food if you have the regular white pizza flour crust. Therefore, if you plan to make a pizza at home, it is advisable to go through the list and make it according to that. Do not put in any fibre-containing product. On the other hand, if you are willing to buy a made pizza, ask for the ingredient list before consuming it.
Q. What vegetables can I eat on a low-residue diet?
A. Vegetables you can eat in a low-residue diet include eggplant, beets, carrots, asparagus, yellow squash, spinach, pumpkin, and potatoes. You must ensure the vegetables are peeled, without seeds, and cooked appropriately. You can also eat well-cooked and canned vegetables without seeds, lettuce, and strained vegetable juice.
Q. Can you eat fried food on a low-residue diet?
A. It is best to avoid fried food on a low-residue diet. It might harm the system by slowing down the digestive process. In addition, you should completely exclude any fried potato in the form of french fries or potato chips.
Q. How long should you stay on a low-residue diet?
A. You should not carry on this diet for more than five days, or it might start harming your digestive system. A low fibre diet can lead to constipation or irritable bowel syndrome. It is best to avoid a low-residue diet if it is not necessary.
What To Know About the Low-Residue Diet
Individuals that struggle with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcerative colitis, or other digestive conditions may be able to reduce or diminish symptoms by simply changing their diet. What you put into your body, and how you nourish your body matters in healthcare outcomes — especially for the individuals struggling with one or more of the conditions listed above. Changing your eating habits or eliminating certain foods from your diet entirely may help reduce the effects or symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders
What Is a Low-Residue Diet?
A low-residue diet — also known as a low-fiber diet — is essentially a change in food consumption that strategically limits or avoids foods that are high in fiber. Although many people associate healthy eating and diets with reducing fats, counting calories, or starving yourself, this is not the case with low-residue diets. It is called “low-residue” because of the indigestible nature of the dietary fiber. Dietary fiber includes cellulose, hemicellulose, polysaccharides, pectins, gums, mucilages, and lignins — and the human body cannot fully digest these dietary fibers. Below is an example of a viable low-residue breakfast, lunch, dinner, as well as a few snacks and liquids.
- White toast with seedless jelly;
- Canned fruit;
- Water or milk (if you have no issues with dairy).
- Tuna on white bread;
- White rice;
- Cooked carrot, cauliflower, and broccoli medley;
- Peanut butter;
- Yogurt (if you have no issues with dairy);
- Cheese (if you have no issues with dairy);
- Flavored water (La Croix, Hint, etc.);
- Ice tea;
- Milk (if you have no issues with dairy).
The low-residue diet is designed to rest the bowels, so it is important to know that this diet is not a long-term type of diet.
What Are Low-Residue Diet Foods?
Since fiber isn’t something that is necessarily bad, it can be difficult to know which foods are rich in fiber. There are certain foods that are higher in fiber than others, so it becomes important to make yourself aware of what foods to aim for on a low-residue diet.
- Dairy: although you shouldn’t target dairy as a primary option for nutrients, it is okay in moderation. Although it does not have fiber in it, dairy can trigger other symptoms that do not help with digestion, since it is such as lactose intolerance;
- Fats: when it comes to dieting, most people associate the term with reducing fats, but this is not always the case. Fats such as butter/margarine, oils, mayonnaise, ketchup, sour cream, soy sauce, salad dressings, and many other sauces/condiments are entirely okay with a low-residue diet;
- Fruits: there are certain fruits you can eat, and others you should aim to avoid — the ones you can eat include bananas, cantaloupe, avocado, etc. You want to primarily avoid fruit with skins or seeds;
- Grains: you should aim to look for refined or enriched grains like white bread and crackers (plain). Avoid foods with seeds like whole-grain bread, and quinoa;
- Liquids: drinking liquids when decreasing or increasing fiber in your diet is important for a healthy transition. This is primarily in regards to water, but other types of liquids are not prohibited;
- Meats: animal products do not generally have any fiber, so there are no meat restrictions. You should aim to stick to lean, tender meats if possible. Eggs are also a viable way to get your protein;
- Sweets: similar to fats, one of the first things someone thinks of with the word diet is sugars and sweet, but with low-residue diets, it is all about amount and types. Some viable sweets include jello, pudding, fruit popsicles, hard candy, and dipped pretzels;
- Vegetables: cooked vegetables are easier to digest than raw. Similar to fruits, you also want to avoid seeds or skin when possible — examples include asparagus, broccoli, beets, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, and lettuce;
What Can’t You Eat on a Low-Residue Diet?
There are foods you should aim to consume, and those you should avoid on a low-residue diet. It is important to note that a low-residue diet does not absolutely prohibit anything, but rather represents a reduction of certain items that complicate digestion — these foods include:
- Fruits with seeds;
- Dried fruits;
- Vegetables with seeds;
- Uncooked vegetables;
- Deli meats;
- Fruit juice.
If you are someone who needs to strictly follow a low-residue diet, be sure to look through ingredient lists to ensure that you are not accidentally consuming something that is working against your efforts.
Why Someone May Need a Low-Residue Diet
As stated above, the intent behind a low-residue diet is to give the bowels and colon time to rest or become less inflamed. So, by and large, the ideal candidate for someone who may need a low-residue diet is someone who is having digestive issues. While many think low-residue diets are only for individuals that have just received bowel surgery, individuals that need colonoscopies, and individuals with IBD, low-residue diets can also be a treatment option for individuals with GERD symptoms. The foods to avoid with GERD are consistent with the foods encouraged and discouraged with a low-residue diet. Special diets are recommended as initial efforts for mitigating digestive issues prior to using traditional medical approaches. So those who can benefit from low-residue diets vary tremendously from patients going through chemo to individuals that simply eat too much fiber in their diet.
When your doctor says you have an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis — they may suggest a low-residue diet. The basic idea is that you’ll eat foods that are easy to digest and cut back on those that aren’t.
What Is a Low-Residue Diet?
It limits high-fiber foods, like whole-grain breads and cereals, nuts, seeds, raw or dried fruits, and vegetables. «Residue» is undigested food, including fiber, that makes up stool. The goal of the diet is to have fewer, smaller bowel movements each day. That will ease symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, gas, and stomach cramping. Your doctor may recommend this diet for a little while when you have a flare, or after surgery to help with recovery.
What You Can Eat
- Refined or enriched white breads and plain crackers, such as saltines or Melba toast (no seeds)
- Cooked cereals, like farina, cream of wheat, and grits
- Cold cereals, like puffed rice and corn flakes
- White rice, noodles, and refined pasta
Fruits and Vegetables The skin and seeds of many fruits and vegetables are full of fiber, so you need to peel them and avoid the seeds. These vegetables are OK:
- Well-cooked fresh vegetables or canned vegetables without seeds, like asparagus tips, beets, green beans, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, squash (no seeds), and pumpkin
- Cooked potatoes without skin
- Tomato sauce (no seeds)
Fruits on the good list include:
- Ripe bananas
- Soft cantaloupe
- Canned or cooked fruits without seeds or skin, like applesauce or canned pears
Milk and Dairy They’re OK in moderation. Milk has no fiber, but it may trigger symptoms like diarrhea and cramping if you’re lactose intolerant. If you are (meaning you have trouble processing dairy foods), you could take lactase supplements or buy lactose-free products. Meats Animal products don’t have fiber. You can eat beef, lamb, chicken, fish (no bones), and pork, as long as they’re lean, tender, and soft. Eggs are OK, too. Fats, Sauces, and Condiments These are all on the diet:
- Margarine, butter, and oils
- Mayonnaise and ketchup
- Sour cream
- Smooth sauces and salad dressing
- i am willow
- Clear jelly, honey, and syrup
Sweets and Snacks You can satisfy your sweet tooth on a low-residue diet. These desserts and snacks are OK to eat in moderation:
- Plain cakes and cookies
- Gelatin, plain puddings, custard, and sherbet
- Ice cream and ice pops
- Hard candy
- Pretzels (not whole-grain varieties)
- Vanilla wafers
Drinks Safe beverages include:
- Decaffeinated coffee, tea, and carbonated beverages (caffeine can upset your stomach)
- Juices made without seeds or pulp, like apple, no-pulp orange, and cranberry
- Strained vegetable juices
What You Can’t Eat
On this plan, you’ll stay away from:
- Coconut, seeds, and nuts, including those found in bread, cereal, desserts, and candy
- Whole-grain products, including breads, cereals, crackers, pasta, rice, and kasha
- Raw or dried fruits, like prunes, berries, raisins, figs, and pineapple
- Most raw vegetables
- Certain cooked vegetables, including peas, broccoli, winter squash, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, corn (and cornbread), onions, cauliflower, potatoes with skin, and baked beans
- Beans, lentils, and tofu
- Tough meats with gristle, and smoked or cured deli meats
- Cheese with seeds, nuts, or fruit
- Crunchy peanut butter, jam, marmalade, and preserves
- Pickles, olives, relish, sauerkraut, and horseradish
- Fruit juices with pulp or seeds, prune juice, and pear nectar
How to Make It Work for You
As long as you follow the general guidelines for the diet, you can mix and match as much as you’d like. There are many meal options to choose from on a low-residue diet: Breakfast
- Decaffeinated coffee with cream and sugar
- Cup of juice, such as no-pulp orange juice, apple juice, or cranberry juice
- Scrambled eggs
- Waffles, French toast, or pancakes
- White-bread toast with margarine and grape jelly (no seeds)
- Baked chicken, white rice, canned carrots, or green beans
- Salad with baked chicken, American cheese, smooth salad dressing, white dinner roll
- Baked potato (no skin) with sour cream and butter or margarine
- Hamburger with white seedless bun, ketchup, and mayonnaise — and lettuce if it doesn’t make your symptoms worse
- Tender roast beef, white rice, cooked carrots or spinach, white dinner roll with margarine or butter
- Pasta with butter or olive oil, French bread, fruit cocktail
- Baked chicken, white rice or baked potato without skin, and cooked green beans
- Broiled fish, white rice, and canned green beans
Everyone is different. You may be OK with some of the things listed under «foods to avoid,» while other items on the «foods to enjoy» list may bother you. So keep a food diary for a few weeks. Track what you eat and how it makes you feel, so you know what works for you. If you enjoy whole grains, nuts, and raw fruits and vegetables, shifting to a low-residue diet may be hard. But if you prefer white bread and pasta, don’t mind canned fruits and vegetables, and are happy to snack on saltines and vanilla wafers, it may come naturally. Remember, this isn’t a healthy way to eat for a long time because it skips many important nutrients. Ask your doctor if they know a nutritionist who can help make sure your diet is right for you and let you know if you need to take supplements. © 2022 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. SOURCES: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: «Low-Residue/Low-Fiber Diet,» «Following a Low-Fiber Diet.» Hoag Health Network: “Low Fiber/Low Residue Diet.” National Institutes of Health: «Fiber-Restricted Diet.» Greenwich Hospital: «What is a Low Fiber/Low Residue Diet.» Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo: «Low Residue Diet.» «Colitis Cookbook: Diet for Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease.» Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America: «Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis: Diet and Nutrition.»
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