Low Residue Diet

What is it?

A low residue diet may be recommended for people with diverticulitis, during flare-ups of inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, or when there is narrowing of the bowel. A low residue diet will decrease the amount and slow the movement of stool in the intestines. This may prevent blockage.

Many people think that a low residue diet and low fiber diet are the same thing. Although they are similar, they are not exactly the same. Fiber is that part of plant foods that is not completely digested in the colon and contributes to stool. Residue includes that undigested fiber and any other food materials remaining in the colon after digestion that may increase stool output. A low fiber diet contains less than 10 grams of fiber per day and limits those foods known to increase the amount of stool. However, some low fiber foods, such as milk, can actually increase residue or stimulate bowel movement. For that reason, a low residue diet has more restrictions than a low fiber diet.

When appropriate food choices are made, a low residue diet will provide the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs). However, long-term use of a low residue diet may not provide needed amounts of vitamin C or folic acid. If you must stay on this diet for a long period, a multivitamin or mineral supplement may be necessary. Check with your doctor or dietician for their recommendations.

This diet gives you a good variety of foods so it should not become tiresome. High-fiber or high-roughage foods are not used. Foods with some fiber in them (fruits and vegetables) should be well cooked. Milk does not have any fiber that you can see. Milk, however, does leave some residue in your colon after it is digested. This is why milk is limited to two cups a day.

Beverages Coffee – regular and decaffeinated, tea
Soda (Coke, 7Up, etc.)
Buttermilk, milk – skim, 1%, 2%, whole
Limit milk to 2 cups a day, including milk used in cooking
Milk in excess of 2 cups
Breads White, light rye, finely milled whole wheat bread or rolls Bread, or rolls Saltines, cheese crackers, Zwieback Bread, rolls or crackers with bran, seeds or nuts
Date, raisin, but or pumpernickel breads
Doughnuts, graham crackers
Cereals Refined cooked cereals such as Cream of Wheat,
Cream of Rice, oatmeal. Refined dry cereals such as
corn flakes, Rice Krispies, puffed rice.
Whole grain cereals
Dry wheat, oat or barley cereals
Cheese Cream cheese and cottage cheese. Mild Swiss, American
and Cheddar cheeses used in flavoring other foods only,
such as in macaroni and cheese.
Avoid all others
Desserts & Sweets Plain milk puddings, custards, ice cream
These desserts must be included in the
2-cup milk allowance
Avoid any made with nuts,
coconut, seeds, berries
and restricted fruits
  Sherbet. Plain cakes and pies. Flavored gelatin –
plain or with allowed fruits. Plain candy, sugar, honey
clear jelly, syrup, marshmallows.
Jams, preserves or marmalade
Fats In moderate amounts: Mayonnaise, butter, cream,
vegetable oils, shortening and crisp bacon
None, except spicy salad
Fruits Any fruit juice
Cooked or canned: Grapefruit or orange sections with
no membrane; peeled and baked apples, applesauce,
apricots, pears, peaches, cherries. Raw banana, avocado.
No more than 3 servings a day
Note: Prune juice may need to be
avoided if diarrhea is a problem
Avoid all fruits not listed
Meats & Eggs Eggs – prepared any way, except fried
Tender meats and poultry
Fresh, frozen or canned fish
Tough, gristly, spiced or cured meats.
Frankfurters, luncheon meats, sausages,
sardines. Fried meats, fish or poultry.
Nuts & Seeds None allowed, except smooth peanut butter Avoid all others
Potatoes & Starches Potato without skin, sweet potato, yams. Macaroni,
spaghetti, noodles, white rice, hominy grits.
Brown and wild rice. Fried potatoes.
Soups Cream soups (made from milk allowance) and allowed
vegetables. Broth soups.
Highly seasoned soups
Vegetables Well cooked: Asparagus, beets, carrots, spinach,
chard leaves, green and wax beans, green peas,
pumpkin, zucchini, summer and winter squash,
tomato sauce or tomato paste. Purée of lima beans.
Any vegetable juice.
No more than 2 servings a day
Avoid all vegetables not listed
Miscellaneous White sauce (made from milk allowance), meat gravies,
catsup, mustard, cocoa, chocolate, salt, vinegar, lemon
juice, ground spices and herbs in moderate amounts.
Olives, pickles, popcorn.
Cayenne, chili powder, pepper, garlic,
and whole spices.