Fiber foods

Low Fiber Diet: Foods, Plans and More

Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods. A low-fiber diet, or a low-residue diet, limits the amount of fiber you eat each day by limiting high-fiber foods.

Fiber is good for your health, but it can sometimes be difficult for your digestive system to process. For this reason, a doctor may recommend a low-fiber diet to treat flare-ups of digestive system problems, including:

Doctors may also recommend a low-fiber diet to treat diarrhea and cramps. You may need to follow this diet before having a colonoscopy, after certain types of surgery, or during certain cancer treatments.

The goal is to rest your digestive system. A low fiber diet should:

  • reduce the amount of undigested food moving through the intestine
  • facilitate the amount of work the digestive system does
  • reduce the amount of stool produced
  • relieve abdominal pain, diarrhea and other symptoms

The low fiber diet limits the amount of nutrients you get and is not intended for weight loss. Without proper guidance, the diet can cause unexpected side effects and worsen symptoms in the long run.

People should follow a low-fiber diet only under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Read on to learn healthy ways to follow a low fiber diet.

As a rule of thumb, a low fiber diet limits fiber intake to about 10 grams per day for both males and females. It also reduces other foods that may stimulate bowel activity.

The foods that make up the low-fiber diet are not the best options for long-term health.

For example, whole grain bread has more nutrients and health benefits than white bread, but whole grains are high in fiber, so people on this diet should opt for white bread instead.

Your doctor will recommend that you only follow the low-fiber diet for a short time – until your gut heals, the diarrhea subsides, or your body recovers from surgery.

Avoid any food that you know your body will have trouble digesting.

When you’re on a low-fiber diet, certain foods, like spicy foods, can affect your digestive system more. You may also want to avoid tea, coffee, and alcohol during this time.

Before and during the low fiber diet, ask your doctor which foods are of concern to you. They can advise you on the type of plan that will benefit your overall health and meet your specific needs.

It may also be helpful to meet with a dietitian for specific meal plans and advice on how to follow a low fiber diet.

Changing the types of grains you eat is a good start to eliminating fiber. Instead, try replacing whole-grain foods with products made from white or refined flour.

When you go to the grocery store, read the labels and try to avoid foods with more than 2 grams fiber per serving.

Make sure to keep your fluid intake high. This will help you avoid constipation while on this diet.

Need a starting point? Try this menu.

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, buttered white bread and vegetable juice.
  • Lunch: A tuna salad sandwich on a seedless white bun with a cup of melon.
  • Having dinner: Lightly seasoned grilled salmon with mashed potatoes.

A low-fiber diet can help give your digestive system a break. Fiber, although it generally has health benefits, takes more effort for your body to digest.

Your doctor might recommend that you try this diet for a short time if you suffer from any of the following symptoms:

  • SCI
  • Crohn’s disease
  • ulcerative colitis
  • diverticulitis
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • constipation
  • irritation or damage in the digestive tract
  • narrowing of the intestine caused by a tumor
  • recovery after gastrointestinal surgery, including colostomy and ileostomy
  • current radiation therapy or other treatments that could affect the gastrointestinal tract

When you’re ready to start introducing fiber again, it’s best to do it slowly. This helps prevent unpleasant side effects.

Gradually increase consumption by 5 grams fiber per week. To do this, try to introduce a small portion of a fiber-rich food daily.

If the food does not cause symptoms, you can add it back to your diet.

The amount of fiber you need depends on your age and gender. According to Nutrition and Dietetics AcademyPeople on a 2,000 calorie diet should consume the following amounts of fiber:

  • 38 grams per day for adult men and 30 grams after age 50
  • 25 grams per day for adult women and 21 grams after age 50

The healthiest way to get fiber is to eat fruits with the skin on, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Know your fibers

There are two types of fibers:

  • Soluble fiber. This type of fiber absorbs water during digestion, turning into a soft, gel-like substance. For some, soluble fiber is less likely to irritate the digestive tract. Others may notice increased gas, bloating, or discomfort, as many foods high in soluble fiber also contain fermentable fiber or prebiotics that feed gut bacteria. However, during a low fiber diet, small amounts of soluble fiber may be fine. Beans, oats, peas and citrus fruits are high in soluble fiber.
  • Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber does not dissolve in the stomach and undigested fragments can irritate the intestine. While on a low-fiber diet, be especially careful to avoid foods like whole wheat, grains, and the skins of fruits and vegetables.

People should follow a low-fiber diet only under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Your doctor can tell you how long you need to follow the diet. It will depend on your situation or condition.

While on your low-fiber diet, avoid foods that contain insoluble fiber and be sure to take note of the fiber content of packaged foods.

Many foods allowed on a low-fiber diet are less healthy than high-fiber alternatives. When you start eating fiber-rich foods again, do it slowly and, if possible, switch back to healthy foods like whole grains, legumes, and vegetables.