Benefits of Low Residue Diet Foods: List for Planning Meals and Snacks

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Why it is Necessary

A low residue diet is often prescribed to patients suffering from Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis or other digestive problems. Low residue diet foods reduce the size and number of bowel movements you have. Residue is the part of the food that remains in your digestive tract, such as fiber, which is not digested. It is often referred to as a low fiber diet; the low residue diet is more restrictive and requires individuals to eat low residue diet foods like those listed.

Watch Fiber Intake

A low residue diet includes less than 10 to 15 grams of fiber daily. The Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding high-fiber foods such as whole grain breads, cereals and pasta, seeds and nuts, and whole vegetables. Dairy products should be limited to no more than 2 cups a day. Too much fiber can cause gas and bloating and increase stomach pain. Do not eat pudding or yogurt, which contains nuts, fruits or seeds. Coconut and marmalade are other foods to be avoided on a low residue diet.

Food Groups and Daily Servings for Low Residue Diets

A low residue diet includes 6 servings of bread or starches daily, with less than 2 grams of fiber. Good choices in this group are white bread and rolls, crackers, waffles, white rice, pasta and dry cereals such as Corn Flakes. For meat and protein, limit yourself to 4-6 ounces daily of fish, poultry, eggs, tofu and ground meats. Vegetables should be limited to 2 servings daily with less than 2 grams of fiber. Onions, tomatoes, cucumber and green peppers may be eaten. Fruit should make up 2 servings daily with less than 2 grams of fiber. Bananas, honeydew, peaches, plums and apricots are good choices. Choose 2 servings of dairy each day from milk, yogurt and cheese. Fats should be no more than 3-6 servings daily and may include bacon, butter, salad dressing, mayonnaise and creamy peanut butter.

Low Residue Diet Menu

A low residue diet need not be restrictive. Below is a sample menu of a typical day on the low residue diet:

Breakfast

1/2 cup apple juice

3/4 cup Corn Flakes

1 slice white bread with 1 tsp margarine and 2 tsp jelly

1 cup 2% milk

Coffee or tea

Lunch

1 cup chicken and rice soup

3 oz. lean hamburger

Seedless white hamburger bun

Iceberg lettuce

1 cup 2% milk

1/2 cup fruit cocktail

Dinner

1/2 cup grape juice

3 oz. chicken breast

1 white roll with 1 tsp margarine

1/2 cup mashed potatoes

1/2 cup cooked green beans

1/2 cup honeydew melon

Coffee or tea

For more information on this type of diet, please read “Diet before Colonoscopy Bowel Preparation.”

Suggestions

The New York University Langone Medical Center offers the following advice to their patients on a low residue diet:

  • When shopping for food, read food labels.
    • Look for products made with “refined” flour.
    • Avoid products that say “whole grain” on the packaging.
    • Avoid foods with the word “whole” at the beginning of the ingredient list (for example, whole wheat flour).
  • Remove skins of fruits and vegetables before cooking.
  • Limit intake of fatty foods as these can increase residue.
  • Work with a dietitian to create a meal plan for you.

References

Mayo Clinic-https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/low-residue-diet/my00745

New York Langone Medical Center-https://www.med.nyu.edu/patientcare/library/article.html?ChunkIID=199396

Northwestern Memorial Hospital-https://www.nmh.org/nmh/pdf/pated/lowfiber-diet07.pdf