Low Fiber Diet

Dietary fiber is that part of a plant that is indigestible. Dietary fiber includes cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, gums, polysaccharides, and lignin. It is not easily digestible by the human body, therefore, it is responsible for both the normal functioning of and for a variety of disorders of the large intestine or colon.1

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There are certain medical conditions where a low fiber diet is necessary for the proper functioning of the gut. Some of these conditions include:

  • Acute or subacute diverticulitis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Some types of intestinal surgery
  • Colostomy
  • Ileostomy
  • Certain inflammatory conditions of the bowel
  • Diarrhea
  • Bowel narrowing caused by a tumor
  • IBS

The Aims of a Low-fiber Diet

  • To lessen abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other symptoms2
  • To decrease the workload on GIT
  • To reduce the amount of undigested food moving through the gut
  • To decrease stool production
  • A low-fiber diet can be used to reduce weight with proper guidance
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Diet Recommendations

People who are on a low-fiber diet can consume the following3:

  • Tender meat, fish, and poultry, bacon, ham, shellfish, and lunch meat
  • Eggs, tofu, and creamy peanut butter
  • White rice and pasta
  • Dairy products, if tolerated
  • Baked goods made with refined wheat or rye flour, such as bread, pancakes, waffles, bagels, biscuits, saltines, and graham crackers
  • Hot and cold cereals that have less than 2.5 grams of dietary fiber in a single serving, such as those made from rice
  • Canned or well-cooked potatoes, carrots, and green beans
  • Plain tomato sauce
  • Vegetable and fruit juices without pulp
  • Bananas, melons, applesauce, and canned peaches without skins
  • Butter, margarine, oils, and salad dressings without seeds
  • Milk products
  • Orange and grapefruit without membrane
  • Bread and cereals made from refined pasta, flours, white rice
  • All oils, margarine, butter
  • Seafood, cottage cheese

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Foods to Avoid

People who are advised to eat a low-fiber diet should not consume the following food items:

  • Nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut
  • Whole grains, popcorn, wheat germ, bran
  • Brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, granola, shredded wheat, quinoa, bulgur, barley
  • Dried beans, baked beans, lima beans, peas, lentils
  • Chunky peanut butter
  • Fruits and vegetables with pulp, raw vegetables
  • Whole-grain bread, cereals, rice, pasta, bran cereal
  • Hot dogs, sausage
  • Nuts, seeds, dried beans
  • Coconuts, fats used for deep frying
  • Popcorn, pickles

Be sure to read food labels if you are on a low-fiber diet. Many food products contain fiber even if you think they don't, such as yogurt, ice cream, and cereal. Even some beverages can have added fiber. Choose foods with no more than 1–2 grams of fiber per serving.

Special Consideration

If you are on a low-fiber diet and experiencing discomfort such as abdominal pain, consult your physician ASAP. If you are on a strict low-fiber diet for a long period of time, then consuming fruits and vegetables may be inadequate nutrition, and you may not be getting enough calcium. In this circumstance, your physician may add a multivitamin or liquid nutritional supplement to your diet plan.4

Sample Menu Step 3
Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • orange juice 1/2 cup
  • cornflakes 1 cup
  • poached egg
  • white toast 1 slice
  • margarine 1 tsp
  • jelly 1 Tb
  • skim milk 1 cup
  • coffee 3/4 cup
  • sugar 1 tsp
  • non-dairy creamer
  • salt/pepper
  • fish 3 oz
  • rice 1/2 cup
  • cooked green beans 1/2 cup
  • white bread 1 slice
  • margarine 1 tsp
  • jelly 1 Tb
  • applesauce 1/2 cup
  • coffee 3/4 cup
  • sugar 1 tsp
  • non-dairy creamer
  • salt/pepper
  • chicken breast 3 oz
  • noodle 1/2 cup
  • cooked carrots 1/2 cup
  • white bread 1 slice
  • margarine 1 tsp
  • jelly 1 Tb
  • canned peaches 1/2 cup
  • skim milk 1 cup
  • coffee 3/4 cup
  • sugar 1 tsp
  • non-dairy creamer
  • salt/pepper
This sample diet provides the following:
Calories 1,576 Fat 45 gm
Protein 89 g Sodium 2,817 mg
Carbohydrates 215 g Potassium 3,510 mg

References

  1. Sorathia AZ, Sorathia SJ. Low Residue Diet. StatPearls. Published online April 28, 2022. Accessed July 1, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557693/
  2. Vanhauwaert E, Matthys C, Verdonck L, de Preter V. Low-residue and low-fiber diets in gastrointestinal disease management. Adv Nutr. 2015;6(6):820-827. doi:10.3945/AN.115.009688
  3. Pastorino S, Richards M, Pierce M, Ambrosini GL. A high-fat, high-glycaemic index, low-fibre dietary pattern is prospectively associated with type 2 diabetes in a British birth cohort. Br J Nutr. 2016;115(9):1632. doi:10.1017/S0007114516000672
  4. O’Keefe SJD. The Need to Reassess Dietary Fiber Requirements in Healthy and Critically Ill Patients. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2018;47(1):219. doi:10.1016/J.GTC.2017.10.005

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