Residue includes any food, including fiber — the undigested part of plants — that remains in your intestinal tract, is not digested and contributes to stool. A low-residue diet limits these foods, reducing the size and number of your stools.
A low-residue diet is closely related to a low-fiber diet. In fact, the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Technically, however, they’re not the same thing, as a low-residue diet is more restrictive than is a low-fiber diet.
Your doctor may prescribe a low-residue diet after you’ve had abdominal surgery or if you’re experiencing a flare-up of a digestive problem, such as diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
A low-residue diet limits the amount of fiber and other undigested material that passes through your large intestine. As a result, a low-residue diet reduces the size and number of your stools, helping to relieve abdominal pain, diarrhea or flare-ups of certain digestive problems, such as diverticulitis.
Because a low-residue diet can’t provide all the nutrients you need to stay healthy, it should be used for only a short time, as determined by your doctor, before transitioning back to a low-fiber or regular diet.
The following foods can be eaten as part of a low-residue diet:
* Refined breads, cereals, crackers, chips and pasta with less than 1 gram of fiber per serving (Note: Ideally, look for products with zero grams of dietary fiber per serving.)
* White rice
* Vegetable juices without seeds or pulp
* Fruit juices with no pulp
* Milk, yogurt, pudding, ice cream, and cream-based soups and sauces (strained)
* Tender meat, poultry, fish and eggs
* Oil, margarine, butter and mayonnaise
* Smooth salad dressings
* Broth-based soups (strained)
* Jelly, honey and syrup
While consuming a low-residue diet, limit dairy products (such as milk, yogurt, pudding, ice cream, and cream-based soups and sauces) to no more than 2 cups a day.
You should avoid:
* Whole-grain breads, cereals and pasta
* Whole vegetables and vegetable sauces
* Whole fruits, including canned fruits
* Yogurt, pudding, ice cream or cream-based soups with nuts or pieces of fruits or vegetables
* Tough or coarse meats with gristle and luncheon meats or cheese with seeds
* Peanut butter
* Salad dressings with seeds or pieces of fruits or vegetables
* Seeds and nuts
If you’re eating a low-residue diet, a typical one-day menu might look like this.
One-half cup cereal (with 1 gram or less of fiber per serving) with milk
Six to 8 ounces fruit juice without pulp
Two slices low-fiber, refined white bread with seedless jelly or honey
Six to 8 ounces vegetable juice
Six to 8 ounces fruit juice without pulp, or water
Three ounces broiled fish
One-half cup white rice
One cup yogurt
Six to 8 ounces fruit or vegetable juice
Six to 8 ounces fruit juice, vegetable juice or water
One cup broth-based soup (strained)
Three ounces broiled chicken
One-half to 1 cup low-fiber pasta with butter or flavored oil
Eating a low-residue diet can help:
* Relieve symptoms — such as abdominal pain and diarrhea — that result from certain digestive problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
* Ease your digestive system after surgery by reducing the number and size of your stools
A low-residue diet can’t provide all the nutrients you need to remain healthy. Therefore, you should use a low-residue diet for only short periods, as directed by your doctor. If you must stay on this diet for a long time, consult a registered dietitian to make sure your nutritional needs are being met.