low fiber diet basics

A low fiber diet may be recommended for a number of conditions or situations. It is sometimes called a restricted fiber diet.

Purpose of the low fiber diet

Your doctor may prescribe a low-fiber diet for you if you:

  • have a narrowing of the intestine due to a tumor or inflammatory disease
  • have had bowel surgery
  • are having treatment, such as radiation therapy, that damages or irritates your digestive tract.
  • When your digestive system returns to normal, you can usually slowly add more fiber to your diet.

Diet details

A low-fiber diet limits the types of vegetables, fruits, and grains you can eat. Sometimes your doctor may also ask you to limit the amount of milk and dairy products in your diet. Milk does not contain fiber, but it can contribute to discomfort or diarrhea, especially if you are lactose intolerant.

The ability to digest food varies from person to person. Depending on your condition and your tolerance, your doctor may recommend a more or less restrictive diet.

If you’re on a low-fiber diet, be sure to read food labels. Foods you wouldn’t expect, like yogurt, ice cream, cereal, and even drinks, can contain fiber. Look for foods that contain no more than 1-2 grams of fiber per serving.

Avoid these foods and products containing them:

Nuts, seeds, dried fruits and coconuts
Whole grains, popcorn, wheat germ and bran
Brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, crushed wheat, quinoa, bulgur and barley
Dried beans, cooked beans, lima beans, peas and lentils
Peanut butter in pieces
Fruits and vegetables, except those mentioned below

Choose these foods:

Tender meat, fish and poultry, ham, bacon, shellfish and breakfast meat
Eggs, tofu
Dairy products if tolerated
White rice and pasta
Baked goods made with refined wheat or rye flour, such as bread, cookies, pancakes, waffles,
Cereals with less than 2 grams of dietary fiber in a single serving, such as those made from rice
Canned or cooked potatoes, carrots and green beans
Plain tomato sauce
Vegetable and fruit juice
Canned bananas, melons, applesauce and peaches (without skin)
Seed-free butter, margarine, oils and salad dressings

A typical menu might look like this:

Breakfast

Cornflakes with milk
White toast, butter, jelly
Juice
Coffee

Morning snack

Seedless yogurt
Water or other drink

Lunch

Turkey sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise
Tomato soup
canned peaches
Milk or other drink

Afternoon snack

Slices of cheese
Savory biscuits
Water or other drink

Dinner

Meatloaf
Mashed potatoes with butter
cooked carrots
Applesauce
Milk or other drink

Prepare all foods so that they are tender. Good cooking methods include simmering, poaching, stewing, steaming and braising.

Remember that you may have fewer bowel movements and smaller stools if you follow a low fiber diet. To avoid constipation, you may need to drink more fluids. Drink plenty of water, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

Results

A diet low in fiber will restrict your bowel movements and help alleviate diarrhea or other symptoms of abdominal upset, such as abdominal pain. Once your digestive system is back to normal, you can slowly reintroduce fiber into your diet.

Risks

Since a low-fiber diet limits what you can eat, it can be difficult to meet your nutritional needs. You should only follow a low-fiber diet for as long as your doctor prescribes. If you need to continue on this diet for a longer period of time, consult a registered dietitian to ensure your nutritional needs are being met.

Sources

Vanhauwaert E, et al. Low-residue and low-fiber diets in gastrointestinal disease management. AdvancedNutrition. 2015; doi:10.3945/an.115.009688.

Alvarez-Gonzalez MA, et al. Randomized clinical trial: A normocaloric low-fiber diet the day before colonoscopy is the most effective approach to bowel preparation in colorectal cancer screening colonoscopy. Disease of the Colon & Rectum. 2019; doi:10.1097/DCR.0000000000001305.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice.

Like our content ?

Receive our latest publications free of charge and directly in your mailbox every day

[ADINSERTER AMP]

Leave a Comment