Low Fiber Foods
What is a low fiber diet?
A low fiber diet means you eat foods that do not have a lot of fiber.
It doesn't happen very often, but if you have certain medical problems, you may be asked to reduce the amount of fiber in your diet in order to rest your bowels (or intestines). A low fiber diet reduces the amount of undigested food moving through your bowel, so that your body makes a smaller amount of stool. A low-fiber diet may be suggested if you have diarrhea, cramping, trouble digesting food, or after some types of surgery.
What are low fiber foods?
Here is a list of low-fiber foods, along with lists of higher-fiber foods you should avoid. Remember to always choose foods that you would normally eat. Do not try any foods that cause you discomfort or allergic reactions.
If you are on a "low-residue diet," food choices are more restricted than those listed below.
Talk with your cancer care team or dietitian if you have questions about specific foods or amounts.
Meat, fish, poultry, and protein
- Tender cuts of meat
- Ground meat
- Fish and shellfish
- Smooth peanut butter
Bake, broil, or poach meats, and use mild seasonings. Suggestions for preparing meats include stews, roasts, meatloaves, casseroles, sandwiches, and soups using ingredients on the approved lists.
Scramble, poach, or boil eggs; or make omelets, soufflés, custard, puddings, and casseroles, using ingredients noted below.
- All beans, nuts, peas, lentils, and legumes
- Processed meats, hot dogs, sausage, and cold cuts
- Tough meats with gristle
Milk and cheese
Only in small to medium amounts and only if they don't cause problems for you
- Milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk, and milk drinks
- Yogurt without seeds or granola
- Sour cream
- Cottage cheese
- Custard or pudding
- Ice cream or frozen desserts (without nuts)
- Cream sauces, soups, and casseroles
You can use the above items to bake bread and make desserts.
Bread, cereals, and grains
- White breads, waffles, French toast, plain white rolls, or white bread toast
- Plain pasta or noodles
- White rice
- Crackers, zweiback, melba, and matzoh
- Cereals without whole grains, added fiber, seeds, raisins, or other dried fruit
Use white flour for baking and making sauces. Grains, such as white rice, Cream of Wheat, or grits, should be well-cooked.
Include the above grains in casseroles, dumplings, soufflés, cheese strata, kugels, and pudding.
Avoid any product containing
- Brown or wild rice
- Whole grains, cracked grains, or whole wheat products
- Kasha (buckwheat)
- Corn bread or corn meal
- Graham crackers
- Wheat germ
- Dried fruit
Vegetables and potatoes
- Tender, well-cooked fresh or canned vegetables without seeds, stems, or skins
- Sweet or white potatoes without skins
- Strained vegetable juices without pulp or spices
Suggestions for preparing include cream sauces, soups, soufflés, kugels, and casseroles.
- All raw or steamed vegetables
- All types of beans
- Potatoes with skin
- Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and greens
Fruits and desserts
- Soft canned or cooked fruit without seeds or skins (small amounts)
- Well-ripened bananas (small amounts)
- Strained or clear juices
- Soft cantaloupe or honeydew melon (small amounts)
- Cookies and other desserts without whole grains, dried fruit, berries, nuts, or coconut
- Sherbet and Popsicles
Serving suggestions include gelatins, milk shakes, frozen desserts, puddings, tapioca, cakes, and sauces.
- All raw or dried fruits
- Prune juice, prunes, and raisins
- Mayonnaise and mild salad dressings
- Margarine, butter, cream, and oils in small amounts
- Plain gravies
- Plain bouillon and broth
- Ketchup and mild mustard
- Spices, cooked herbs, and salt
- Sugar, honey, and syrup
- Clear jellies
- Hard candy and marshmallows
- Plain chocolate
- Pickles, olives, relish, and horseradish
- Potato chips
Keep in mind that low fiber foods cause fewer bowel movements and smaller stools. You may need to drink extra fluids to avoid constipation while you are on a low fiber diet. Drink plenty of water unless your doctor tells you otherwise, and use juices and milk as noted above.
No matter who you are, we can help. Contact us anytime, day or night, for cancer-related information and support. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Fiber Residue-Restricted Diet. Accessed at www.dhmc.org/webpage.cfm?site_id=2&org_id=372&gsec_id=39122&sec_id=39122&item_id=39123 on March 21, 2011.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Low-Residue/Low-Fiber Diet. Accessed at www.upmc.com/HealthAtoZ/patienteducation/Documents/LowResLowFiber.pdf on March 16, 2011.
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18. Accessed at www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/SR18/nutrlist/sr18w291.pdf on March 21, 2011.
Last Revised: 03/28/2011