Low-Fiber/Low-Residue Diet

What is This Diet?

A low-fiber/low-residue diet limits how much dietary fiber and residue-providing food you eat. Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate in plants. Your body cannot process it. Residue is the undigested part of food that makes up stool. Eating less lowers how much food passes through the large intestine.

Why Should I Follow This Diet?

This diet may be good if you have have gastrointestinal pain or if your system needs to rest. It may also help those with ulcerative colitis or Crohn disease. It may be used after surgery or if you are having radiation therapy to your belly.

The Basics

Fiber is in plant-based foods such as fruits, veggies, grains, and legumes. You can still eat some foods with fiber, but high-fiber foods need to be limited. Ask your doctor or a dietitian how many grams you can have each day.

To lower residue, you will need to limit foods that have fiber, milk and milk products, and caffeine. You can have two cups of milk or milk products per day. You may need to stay away from milk if you are lactose intolerant.

You will not be able to eat some healthful foods. So this diet may not meet all of your needs. Ask your doctor or dietitian if you should take vitamins.

Eating Plan

Food Group Eat This.. Do Not Eat This...
  • Refined breads, crackers, cereals, pancakes, and waffles with less than 0.5 grams fiber per serving
  • Pasta like macaroni, noodles, and spaghetti
  • White rice
  • Whole-grain breads and crackers like whole wheat, pumpernickel, rye, and cornbread
  • Whole-grain pancakes and waffles
  • Whole-grain cereals like bran, oatmeal, and granola
  • Breads and cereals with seeds, nuts, or dried fruits
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Well-cooked and canned veggies without skin or seeds
  • Lettuce
  • Veggie juice without pulp or seeds
  • Raw veggies
  • Cooked peas, winter squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, cauliflower, baked beans, and corn
  • Veggie sauces like tomato sauce
  • Veggie skins like potato skin
  • Canned or cooked fruit with skin (except canned pineapple)
  • Applesauce
  • Ripe bananas
  • Ripe cantaloupe and honeydew melon
  • Fruit juices without pulp
  • Raw fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Prune juice
  • Canned pineapple
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese, cottage cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Soy, almond, and rice milk
  • Lactose-free milk
  • Note: Limit milk and milk products to no more than two cups per day.
  • Milk products with fruit, seeds, or nuts
  • More than two cups of milk or milk products per day
  • Milk and milk products if you are lactose intolerant
  • Milk products with dried fruit, seeds, or nuts
Meats and Beans
  • Well-cooked or tender beef, lamb, ham, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish, and organ meats
  • Eggs
  • Smooth nut butters
  • Tough meats
  • Meat with seeds like salami
  • Dried beans or peas
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Oil
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salad dressings without seeds

Salad dressings with seeds

Fats and Sweets
  • Butter, margarine
  • Plain cakes, cookies, and pies made with allowed fruits and no nuts
  • Ice cream and frozen yogurt (within two cup limit)
  • Plain sherbet and fruit ice
  • Plain hard candy

Candy, cakes, cookies, and other baked goods made with whole grains, seeds, nuts, coconut, or dried fruit

  • Strained soups
  • Plain gravy
  • Jelly, honey, syrup
  • Plain candy
  • Salt, pepper, and herbs
  • Ketchup
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Marmalade, jam, or preserves
  • Popcorn
  • Pickles
  • Coconut
  • Coffee
  • Tea


Here are some diet tips:

  • Read food labels:
    • Look for items made with refined flour.
    • Do not choose whole grain items.
    • Do not choose foods with the word “whole” at the top of the item list (like whole-wheat flour).
  • Take off the skins of fruits and veggies before you cook them.
  • Limit fatty foods. They can increase residue.
  • Work with a dietitian to make a meal plan.


American Society for Nutrition
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada
Dietitians of Canada


Irritable bowel syndrome: dietary management. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Accessed July 26, 2021.
Nutrition care manual. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Available at:
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Accessed July 26, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardDianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Last Updated: 7/26/2021

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