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Low-Residue Diet

A low-residue diet is generally included in the treatment of certain medical conditions. The same may also be prescribed prior to a medical procedure. This article helps you know about the importance of this diet, and the food it includes.
Uttara Manohar
Last Updated: May 19, 2018
The food that we eat plays a major role in maintaining our health. Oftentimes, when we are faced with health problems, we are prescribed certain changes in our diet, since any remedial procedure or medicine needs to be supplemented with specific dietary requirements. There exists several diets which are specially designed or formulated for certain health conditions. A low-residue diet is one such diet that has several benefits while treating certain health-related issues.
What is a Low-Residue Diet?
A low-residue diet is a special diet, which is low in fiber and high in other dietary elements. It is used as a preparation for certain medical examinations as well as an aid to treat certain health problems. The low residual diet is thus prescribed under certain special conditions only. It contains less than 10-15 grams of fiber per day. It should not be followed unless under express medical advise.
What Does the Diet Aim At?
By lowering dietary fiber content, this diet is designed to reduce the frequency and volume of stools. It helps to prolong the intestinal transit time. Simply put, the low-residue diet aims to reduce bowel activity.
When Is A Low-Residue Diet Required?
As mentioned earlier, this diet is prescribed when a person is suffering from certain diseases, or if a person is planning to undergo a specific medical examination or procedure that requires reduced bowel activity. Here are the situations that call for this specially tailored diet.
The first or second stages of labor (ask your doctor before attempting to this).
Patients who suffer from a bowel inflammation, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, or ulcerative colitis.
Radiation therapy patients who've undergone pelvis and lower bowel treatment, chemotherapy, or colonoscopy.
Participants of a space flight program are also advised to follow this diet.
Foods Included in the Diet
All the foods that are allowed in a low-residue diet have to be essentially low in fiber.
Meals can include white bread, refined pasta/cereal, white rice, well-cooked meat, poultry, or fish (meat must contain no traces of visible fat; lean meat).
Vegetables are high in fiber, hence you cannot include them directly. In such cases, broths or strained soups are an option, or consuming fruits/veggies without the skin and seeds, in stewed form - canned foods are also a good option.
Fresh juice without pulp (avoid prune juice).
This diet allows milk and milk products like yogurt and cheese. These may aggravate the bowel and intensify diarrhea (because of the presence of lactose in milk products), therefore just ½ a cup of dairy a day is recommended. Consume dairy-free foods like soy milk and tofu, as an alternative.
It also allows you to consume margarine, butter, and vegetable oil (paired with homemade food). Consume these options in limited quantities and avoid fried foods in any form, especially junk/processed edibles.
Foods to Avoid in the Diet
Any food items that are rich in dietary fiber are essentially avoided in a low-residue diet.
Common items with high dietary fiber include whole grain breads and pastas, bran, seeds, or nuts. These should be avoided.
Whole fruits and raw vegetables are a complete no-no.
Hard meat, which has not been cooked adequately should be avoided, and mustn't contain traces of fat (like certain cuts of mutton, beef, and pork). Avoid smoking/grilling meat, and stick to baked/lightly fried meat.
You may consume eggs, but not in fried form - choose to either poach or boil them.
Dried fruit, dried beans, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumber, turnip, corn, broccoli, peas, brown lentils, seeds, brussels sprout, radish, sprouts, and lima beans.
Wholemeal, muesli, bran, rolled oats, and the like.
Food containing chocolate, caffeine, spices, etc. Foods that are extremely hot when prepared or consumed, can cause the bowel to expel stool.
Meal Plan
Given below are meal plan options that you can try if you have been recommended a low-residue diet.
  • Half a glass of milk
  • Fruit juice (minus the pulp)
  • White bread with jelly
  • Eggs (not fried)
  • French toast (white bread)
  • Pancakes
  • Muffins
  • Milkshake (using soy milk and skinless/seedless fruit)
  • Frozen soybean ice cream
  • Banana slices (pureed)
  • Plain cake
  • Plain donut
  • Fresh fruit juice (without pulp)
  • Soup (strained if vegetable or meat)
  • White bread sandwich (with drained canned tuna containing mayonnaise/other dressing)
  • Soda crackers
  • Crackers
  • Iced tea
  • Steamed vegetables (like carrots, spinach, and potato)
  • Steamed white rice
  • Lean meat (saltwater fish/chicken breast/turkey/beef cuts)
  • Green tea
These are not the only options. You can try out various combinations of the food items that are allowed to be eaten. Make sure you follow the advice given by your doctor before trying out any meal plan.
The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a nutritionist.