What is a Low Residue Diet?


Sometimes, a low residue diet is recommended when a person is to undergo a specific treatment such as an intestinal surgery, colonoscopy etc. The aim of this diet is to limit bowel movements so that certain medical procedures can be performed without any trouble.

There can be other reasons too to get on a low residue diet. When we eat foods that are high in fiber, they leave behind a residue in the digestive system. This is fiber which the body cannot digest. It adds up to a bulk and is passed via stool.

Sometimes, this undigested fiber can lead to various gastrointestinal problems. Here’s where a low residue diet comes into play. When you face stomach issues, the doctor might recommend you to follow a low residue diet for some days.

Let’s get to know more about this diet:

What Is A Low Residue Diet?

It’s a diet that limits the intake of fiber so as to give relief to the digestive system.

Eating foods that are high in fiber can lead to many problems such as diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain etc. Here’s where a low residue diet can be of great help.

Mostly, patients suffering from diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are recommended to follow this diet.

Foods To Eat In A Low Residue Diet

Low Residue Diet

The diet tried to bring the level of fiber consumed to about 10 to 15 grams. Hence, most of the high-fiber foods are excluded with foods that contain minimal amount of fiber containing foods.

Here is what you can eat in this diet:

Fruits: Fruits to be eaten in a low residue diet are canned fruit, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew, melon, watermelon, fruit juices without pulp, nectarines, papayas, peaches and plums. These fruits are low in fiber and should be eaten to get the necessary nutrients into the body for good health.

Vegetables: Low fiber vegetables include carrots, skinless white potatoes, string beans, lettuce (if tolerable), beets, tips of asparagus, pureed spinach, strained vegetable juice, tomato sauces, acorn squash (seedless) and cooked or canned vegetables that are skinless or seedless.

Foods (Low Fiber): Depending solely on veggies and fruits may not be a good idea since they can’t cover up for all the nutrients that the body requires. Hence, these foods can also be taken but according to the doctor’s advice.

  • Hot and cold cereal which is low in fiber.
  • White bread
  • Eggs
  • Tender protein sources such as chicken, eggs, tofu and fish
  • Peanut butter (Creamy)
  • canned /cooked or fresh vegetables but in smaller portions
  • Skinless white potatoes.
  • White pasta
  • White rice
  • Foods prepared with white flour (refined) such as like pancakes
  • Fats like gravy, olive oil, mayonnaise and butter.
  • Dairy products (if tolerable).

Lots Of Water And Juices: It is essential to keep your fluid intake higher in a low residue diet since it can help provide smooth bowel movement so make sure to drink a lot of water and other liquids. The average requirement is 2 liters, but in this diet you should try to drink a little more than that.

Foods Not To Eat In A Low Fiber Diet

All the foods that contain higher amounts of fiber should be prevented when you’re on a low residue diet. These foods include:

  • Skinned potatoes.
  • Dried fruits and raw fruits.
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain foods
  • Bran
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Raw veggies.
  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods
  • Processed meat
  • Seeds
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Nuts

Benefits Of A Low Residue Diet

There are many benefits of a low residue diet but the main aim of the diet is to cure certain illness that are linked with the digestive system. Let’s look at some such diseases and other benefits in detail:

Treats Inflammatory bowel disease: Since a low residue diet puts minimal stress on the digestive system, inflammation around the area where bowel movements are carried out are reduced.

Heals Crohn’s Disease: In this type of disease the walls of the intestines suffer from ulcers. This not only triggers stomach pain but also makes it difficult for the person to pass stool.  A low residue diet can reduce the inflammation and treat ulcers too.

Treats Constipation: Foods that are rich in fiber can cause constipation because they are mostly dry and solid. This leave behind solid residue in the stomach which is hard to digest. This is why a person may find it hard to pass stool. A low residue diet can help eliminate constipation by reducing fiber in your body and since fluid intake is encouraged in this diet, it aids in treating constipation.

Heals Diarrhea: Diarrhea can be treated form a low residue diet because it helps to slow down the process of digestion, hence, production of faeces can be controlled.

Relieves The Digestive Tract: Since low fiber foods are easy to digest, it helps to relieve the digestive tract from a number of symptoms such as gas, abdominal pain etc.

Post Surgery Healing: People who have to undergo a surgery or have recently undergone one may also be recommended to dwell on a low residue diet for some time. This diet is both easy to swallow and digest.

The Verdict

It’s not wise to start a low residue diet on your own. If you experience changes and difficulties in digestion or you are suffering from GI problems then visiting a doctor should be your first choice.

Upon approval of a doctor you can switch to this diet and continue it for the amount of time which is recommended by the doctor.