A Low Residue Diet


Those with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or some other form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are often instructed by their physician to take part in a low residue diet.


What is a low residue diet?

  • Basically, it’s eating foods that are easy to digest. Foods high in fiber, such as fresh or dried fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and cereals are to be avoided for the time being. Undigested food in the stool, including fiber, is what is known as “residue.” Less bowel movements and smaller stools is the goal. This diet is designed to help prevent the gas, bloating, cramps, and diarrhea associated with indigestion.
  • Those with any form of IBD, if it is cost-effective, should consult a nutritionist or licensed dietitian. It’s important to make sure you are getting all the right vitamins, minerals, and nutrients when starting a new diet, and you may need a supplement for anything you might be missing.
  • On a low-residue diet, you can have most hot and cold cereals, refined grains such as white bread, white rice, and semolina pasta.
  • For vegetables, it is best to peel them. Eat vegetables without seeds such as green beans, beets, asparagus tips, carrots, mushrooms, pumpkin, squash, and spinach. Cook these well, as it makes them easier to digest. You can cook potatoes without the skin. Tomato sauce is also fine as long as it is without seeds.
  • For fruits, avocado, melons, ripe bananas, applesauce, and canned pears are good choices. Steer clear of anything with seeds in it.
  • Dairy products are okay, as long as you aren’t lactose intolerant. However, eat these sparingly as many are often high in fat and cholesterol.
  • Condiments such as mayo, ketchup, soy sauce, honey, syrup, and clear jelly won’t typically upset IBD symptoms.
  • For drinks, realize that caffeine can aggravate the stomach. Switch to decaffeinated tea or coffee. Drink fruit juices without any pulp.

Remember to make this diet your own. Experiment with it a little and recognize which foods are okay for you to eat, and which exacerbate your symptoms. Everyone’s body is different. One person with IBD might be able to eat certain foods that another person with IBD cannot.

Keep a food journal so you can become more aware of the foods that bother you and recognize any trends over time. This diet excludes important nutrients so it is not a long-term solution. Be sure to work with a physician to develop a management plan and select the right long-term treatment options for your goals.


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