Low Fiber Diet: Foods, Plans, and More (2024)

You may need to eat a low fiber diet if you have certain health conditions. Foods low in fiber include white bread, skinless vegetables, seedless fruits, and some dairy products, among others.

A low fiber diet, or low residue diet, limits the amount of fiber you eat each day. “Residue” refers to food that ends up in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract or stool because your body cannot digest it. Often, these are high fiber foods.

A low fiber diet aims to give your digestive system a rest by:

  • reducing the amount of undigested food moving through the gut
  • easing the amount of work the digestive system is doing
  • reducing the amount of stool produced
  • easing abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other symptoms

Low residue diets have been removed from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Nutrition Care Manual.

However, the authors of a 2015 review suggest that low fiber diets may still have several benefits. For example, a healthcare professional may recommend following a low fiber diet if you’re living with a GI condition or if you’re preparing for surgery, such as a colonoscopy.

It’s important to note that low fiber diets are not intended for weight loss. Without proper guidance, the diet can cause unintended side effects and make symptoms worse in the long run.

Keep reading to learn more about the healthful ways to follow a low fiber diet.

Types of fiber

Dietary fiber plays a role in stool formation, density, and acceleration. It’s typically divided into two types:

  • Soluble fiber absorbs water during digestion and turns into a soft, gel-like substance. This type of fiber is less likely to irritate your GI tract. However, it may still increase symptoms like gas and bloating because soluble fiber-rich foods contain prebiotics that feed gut bacteria.
  • Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in the stomach. It’s found in many foods not recommended to eat during a low fiber diet because the undigested fragments may irritate the gut.

Knowing the types of fiber you’re eating may help you prevent unpleasant symptoms.

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A low fiber diet limits fiber intake to around 10 grams (g) per day.

Below is a table of some low fiber foods to eat and high fiber foods to avoid:

Types of foodFoods to eatFoods to avoid
Carbohydrates
refined carbohydrates
• white bread
• white pasta
white rice
• low fiber cereal, hot or cold
• whole grain breads
• whole grain pasta
• whole grain cereals
flaxseed
popcorn
brown rice
cornmeal
bran
Vegetables• canned vegetables
• boiled or steamed vegetables
• seedless and skinless vegetables
carrots
beets
potatoes
sweet potatoes
green beans
acorn squash
• strained vegetable juice
• most raw vegetables
• cruciferous vegetables
broccoli
cauliflower
cabbage
Swiss chard
kale
Brussels sprouts
onions
garlic
peppers
Fruits• fruit juices without pulp
cantaloupe
honeydew melon
watermelon
bananas
• peeled apples
• peeled pears
avocado
peaches
• raw, dried fruit
plums
oranges
grapefruits
tomatoes
Protein and fatseggs
• some dairy products
tofu
chicken
fish
smooth nut butters
beans
legumes
nuts
seeds

Remember, foods that make up the low fiber diet may not be the best options for long-term health.

For example, whole grain bread is more nutritious than white bread. However, whole grains are high in fiber, which may trigger GI symptoms if you’re living with some health conditions.

Before starting a low fiber diet, speak with a healthcare professional. They can offer advice on foods to eat and avoid, as well as help determine the proper amount of fiber for you to eat.

Some tips to help you manage your fiber intake include:

  • buying foods with less than 2 g of fiber per serving
  • peeling your vegetables and fruits
  • avoiding foods that may trigger symptoms
  • staying hydrated to help avoid constipation
  • avoiding insoluble fibers

It might also help to meet with a dietitian to get specific meal plans and guidance on eating a low fiber diet.

Here are examples of meals you can eat on a low fiber diet:

Breakfast

  • hard-boiled eggs with buttered white toast and unsweetened vegetable juice
  • low fiber breakfast cereals, such as cornflakes, puffed rice, and porridge

Lunch

  • tuna sandwich with an unseeded white roll and mayonnaise
  • white rice with a chicken breast

Dinner

  • lightly-seasoned salmon with mashed potatoes
  • an omelet with roasted sweet potatoes

A low fiber diet can help give your digestive system a break because fiber takes more effort for your body to digest.

Your doctor might recommend trying this diet for a short time if you have one of the following:

  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • ulcerative colitis
  • diverticulitis
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • irritation or damage in the digestive tract
  • bowel narrowing caused by a tumor
  • recovery from GI surgery, including colostomy and ileostomy
  • current radiation therapy or other treatments that might affect the GI tract

Reducing your intake of fiber may help improve symptoms in the short term. However, it’s important to gradually reintroduce fiber into your diet when these symptoms improve.

The authors of a 2022 review suggest that a high fiber diet may have several benefits for people living with irritable bowel disease (IBD). These may include:

  • decreasing inflammation
  • improving immune response and overall health
  • restoring gut microbiome
  • reducing the risk of colorectal cancer

You can start by adding a small portion of one high fiber food per day. If this doesn’t cause any symptoms, you can then add it back into your diet.

The amount of fiber you need depends on several factors, such as age, sex, and underlying health conditions. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 suggest that adult males consume 28–34 g and adult females 22–28 g of fiber per day.

What foods are low in fiber for a colonoscopy?

A healthcare professional may recommend eating low fiber foods before getting a colonoscopy. These may include:

  • refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, and rice
  • some boiled or steamed vegetables
  • some fruit and vegetable juices
  • lean protein sources, such as eggs, chicken, and tofu

Can you eat oatmeal on a low fiber diet?

Oats are mostly high in soluble fiber. According to the American Cancer Society, this type of fiber is less likely to irritate your intestines as much as insoluble fiber. However, it’s best to eat a small portion of oatmeal and see how you feel afterward. If it triggers any symptoms, stay away from oatmeal.

What is a low fiber diet for breakfast?

Some low fiber breakfast foods include:

  • eggs
  • white toast
  • some breakfast cereals, such as cornflakes and puffed rice
  • some fruits

A low fiber diet may help you manage symptoms if you’re living with a health condition that affects your digestive system.

However, it’s important to only follow a low fiber diet under the guidance of a healthcare professional. They can help you determine the best diet plan for you.

Low Fiber Diet: Foods, Plans, and More (2024)
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