Fiber is a substance found in plants. Dietary fiber, the kind you eat, is found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. When you are on a low-fiber diet, you will eat foods that do not have much fiber and are easy to digest.
Why you Need This Diet
Eating low-fiber foods helps slow your bowel movements. This helps decrease diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Your doctor may recommend that you follow a low-fiber diet when you have a flare-up of:
Sometimes people are put on this diet after certain kinds of gut surgery, such as an ileostomy or colostomy.
You may need to follow this diet only for a short time to give your bowl a rest. Or, you may need to stay on the diet longer. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian for help with meal planning.
What you can eat and Drink
A low-fiber diet can include foods you are used to eating, like cooked vegetables, fruits, white breads, and meats. It does NOT include foods that are higher in fiber or cause gas such as:
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains
- Many raw vegetables and fruits or their juices
- Fruit and vegetable skins
- Nuts and seeds
- The connective tissues of meats
This diet can provide your body's needed:
- Vitamins and minerals
Your doctor or dietitian will likely tell you not to eat more than a certain number of grams of fiber a day, such as 10 to 15 grams (g).
Below are some of the foods recommended for a low-fiber diet. It is still possible for some of these foods to upset your system. Talk to your doctor or dietitian if a food is making your problem worse.
- You may have yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, milk, pudding, creamy soup, or 1.5 ounces (43 g) of hard cheese. If you are lactose intolerant, use lactose-free products.
- Avoid milk products with nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, or granola added to them.
Breads and grains:
- You may have refined white breads, dry cereals (such as Special K, puffed rice, Corn Flakes, and Rice Krispies), Cream of Wheat, white pasta, and crackers. Make sure these foods have less than 2 grams of fiber per serving.
- DO NOT eat whole-grain breads, crackers, cereals, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, barley, oats, or popcorn.
Vegetables: You may eat these vegetables raw:
- Lettuce (shredded, in small quantities at first)
- Cucumbers (without seeds or skin)
You can eat these vegetables if they are well-cooked or canned (without seeds). You can also drink juices made from them if they do not contain seeds or pulp:
- Yellow squash (without seeds)
- Potatoes, without skin
- Green beans
- Wax beans
DO NOT eat any vegetable that is not on the list above. DO NOT eat vegetables raw that are okay to eat cooked. DO NOT eat fried vegetables. Avoid vegetables and sauces with seeds, such as tomato sauce.
- You may have fruit juices without pulp and many canned fruits or fruit sauces, such as applesauce. Avoid fruits canned in heavy syrup.
- Raw fruits you can have are very ripe apricots, bananas and cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, nectarines, papayas, peaches, and plums. Avoid all other raw fruit.
- Avoid canned and raw pineapple, fresh figs, berries, all dried fruits, fruit seeds, and prunes and prune juice.
- You may eat cooked meat, fish, poultry, eggs, smooth peanut butter, and tofu. Make sure your meats are tender and soft, not chewy with gristle.
- Avoid deli meats, hot dogs, sausage, crunchy peanut butter, nuts, beans, tempeh, and peas.
Fats, oils, and sauces:
- You may eat butter, margarine, oils, mayonnaise, whipped cream, and smooth sauces and dressings.
- Smooth condiments are OK.
- DO NOT eat very spicy or acidic foods and dressings.
- Avoid chunky relishes and pickles.
- DO NOT eat deep-fried foods.
Other foods and drinks:
- DO NOT eat desserts that have nuts, coconut, or fruits that are not OK to eat.
- Make sure you are drinking enough fluids, particularly if you are having diarrhea.
- Your doctor or dietitian will likely recommend that you also avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Keep in Mind
Choose foods that are lower in fat and added sugar when following a low-fiber diet.
Because this diet does not have the variety of foods that your body normally needs to stay healthy, you may have to take supplements, such as a multi-vitamin. Check with your doctor or dietitian.
Fiber diet - low-residue; Low-fiber diet; Fiber restricted diet; Crohn disease - low fiber diet; Ulcerative colitis - low fiber diet; Surgery - low fiber diet
Compass Group. Fiber-restricted diets. In: Morrison, Inc. Manual of Clinical Nutrition Management. Updated 2013. bscn2k15.weebly.com/uploads/1/2/9/2/12924787/manual_of_clinical_nutrition2013.pdf. Accessed August 17, 2016.
Katz DL, Friedman RSC, Lucan SC. Diet and common gastrointestinal problems. In: Katz DL, Friedman RSC, Lucan SC, eds.Nutrition in Clinical Practice: A Comprehensive, Evidence-Based Manual for the Practitioner. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Health; 2015:chap 18.
- Crohn disease - discharge
- Diet - clear liquid
- Diet - full liquid
- Diverticulitis and diverticulosis - discharge
- Ileostomy and your child
- Ileostomy and your diet
- Ileostomy - discharge
- Intestinal or bowel obstruction - discharge
- Large bowel resection - discharge
- Small bowel resection - discharge
- Total colectomy or proctocolectomy - discharge
- Ulcerative colitis - discharge
Review Date 8/14/2016
Updated by: Emily Wax, RD, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.