Low-residue diet

This page provides information to patients following a low-residue diet for their medical condition. It should be used in conjunction with advice from a dietitian.

Why follow a low residue diet?

A ‘low residue’ or ‘low fibre’ diet is recommended when people need to avoid foods that may irritate an inflamed gut / bowel or obstruct narrowed parts of the gut / bowel. A low fibre diet may be recommended:

  • When experiencing diarrhoea caused by a flare-up of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • During pelvic or abdominal radiotherapy
  • To prepare your bowel for investigations or surgery 
  • Soon after surgery on the bowel
  • If you have been diagnosed with bowel obstruction / blockage or have been told by your Doctors you are at risk of developing bowel obstruction.  This may be due to Inflammatory Bowel Disease with strictures / narrowing; scarring after bowel surgery or cancer of the bowel
  • If you have delayed emptying of the stomach (also called Gastroparesis.) 

What is a low-residue diet?

Certain foods containing fibre are not digested or fully broken down by humans and normally aid the movement of food and fluid through your gut. This ‘roughage’ adds bulk to the stools and is usually encouraged as part of a healthy diet. 

However, in certain conditions and/or in preparation for particular procedures (see the list above), it is advisable to avoid these foods, because they can leave behind a ‘residue’ after digestion.  

Some fruit and vegetables (especially if raw or they contain skins / pips), pulses, nuts, seeds and wholegrain cereals are high fibre foods to reduce if you have been advised to follow a low residue diet. 

A low residue diet may help to prevent blockages in your bowel by reducing fibre intake, which is poorly or partially digested and can get caught in a narrowing in the bowel. This diet may also be recommended when reintroducing food after surgery or after following a liquid diet. Foods lower in fibre tend to be easier to digest.

A low residue diet may be advised either long-term or short-term, depending on your condition and symptoms.  Speak to your Dietitian for more guidance and advice about re-introducing fibre, if this is appropriate to you.   

Some patients may also be able to tolerate a small amount of fibre-containing foods, in which case your Dietitian can support you in how much to have.     

The following table shows foods to include and foods to avoid, when following a low residue diet. 


Foods to include and foods to avoid

Food type

Foods to include

Foods to avoid

Bread, cereal products, rice, pasta

















White bread, English muffins, plain scones and bagels, pancakes, white pitta bread, plain naan bread, plain chapatti, poppadoms made with white flour


Refined breakfast cereals such as:

Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies



White rice e.g. basmati / risotto; white pasta, noodles, couscous, semolina, polenta



Foods made with corn flour, white white / rice flour, soya, tapioca, sago


Sweet plain biscuits such as rich tea, gingernut, malted milk, shortbread



Plain sponge cake made with white flour, plain scone


Plain / white crackers such as cream crackers, breadsticks, butterpuffs, Melba toast, plain crispbreads, Cornish wafers, cheese crackers


Wholemeal, granary, brown bread, pitta bread, chapatti; rye bread; fruit / nut breads, including walnut, granary or fruit muffins or scones and pastries with fruit


Wholegrain cereals such as: AllBran, Weetabix, muesli, Shredded

Wheat, porridge (jumbo oats)


Brown / wholegrain / wild rice, brown / wholegrain pasta, noodles, couscous, bulgur wheat, amaranth, farro, freekeh, quinoa, pearl barley


Foods made with wholemeal brown or granary flour, gram flour, wheat germ, wheatbran, oatmeal, oatbran


Digestive biscuits, Hobnobs, cereal bars, flapjacks, nut biscuits, biscuits or cakes made using: oats, dried fruit or dried coconut


Fruit cake, teacake or scone with raisins 


Ryvita, whole wheat crispbreads, oatcakes, popcorn, corn chips





Food type

Foods to include

Foods to avoid










Tinned fruit in natural juice e.g. peach, pear


Ripe fresh fruit without skin or seeds as advised by Dietitian, e.g. banana; peeled, de-seeded pear, nectarine, plum, mango, melon


Stewed fruit / smooth sieved fruit puree and compote e.g. apple, pear (without skin)


Smooth fruit juices, smooth coconut milk


1-2 portions of fruit per day, or as advised by Dietitian


All fruit skins, stalks, seeds, pith and stones 


Berries e.g. blackberries, raspberries


All dried fruit e.g. raisins, fried apricots


Smoothies made with whole fruit containing pips / skin

Fruit juice with ‘bits’



Food type

Foods to include

Foods to avoid

Vegetables and potatoes

Well cooked or mashed root vegetables e.g. carrot, swede, parsnip, turnip, squash, sweet potato, marrow, courgette, pumpkin, yam (flesh only; no peel, seeds or skin)


Other very well cooked vegetables as advised by Dietitian e.g. spinach, broccoli, cauliflower (no tough stalks), peeled and de-seeded peppers / aubergine


1-2 portions of cooked vegetables per day, or as advised by Dietitian 


Canned, de-seeded tomatoes,

Passata, tomato puree


Strained vegetable juices


White potato with skin removed – e.g. boiled, mashed, flesh only of baked potato, chips, potato waffles, hash browns


All vegetable stalks, skins, seeds and peel


Raw / undercooked vegetables and salads e.g. crunchy stir-fried vegetables, coleslaw, raw pepper, tomato, celery, mushroom, sweetcorn, green beans, kale













Potatoes with skin e.g. whole baked potato, new potatoes, skin-on potato wedges

Food type

Foods to include

Foods to avoid


Custard, ice cream, yoghurt, milk puddings e.g. rice pudding


Clear jelly, smooth sorbet


Plain sponge cakes, jaffa cakes


Vermicella (seviyan / plain kulfi)

Ice cream containing fruit and nuts, cakes, puddings and pies containing any of the following: Wholemeal flour, dried fruit, nuts, dried coconut and any fruits you have been advised to avoid


Shrikhand, gulab jaman, Halva, all sweets made with nuts/coconut or gram flour

Food type         

Foods to include

Foods to avoid

Milk and milk products; Milk alternatives

Milk (all types e.g. cow’s, goat, sheep)


Milk alternatives e.g. rice, soya, almond


Cream, sour cream, crème fraiche, buttermilk


Fromage frais, smooth yoghurt, kefir, plain sweet or salty Lassi 


Cheese (any, including cream cheese, cheddar, paneer)


Butter, spread, margarine


Any milk products containing fruits, nuts, seeds or cereals e.g. cheese with dried fruit; yoghurt with whole berries



Food type      

Foods to include

Foods to avoid

Meat and meat alternatives

All meats and fish




Tofu, Quorn, soya mince (1-2 portions per day of alternative meat products)


If you are vegetarian, speak to your Dietitian – you may be able to have one portion of very well cooked lentils / smooth hummus per day


Gristly and fatty meat, tough skin, fish skin and bones


Beans and pulses such as baked beans, butter beans, kidney beans, peas, lentils, soya beans, chickpeas


Food type      

Foods to include

Foods to avoid


Fruit and vegetable juices (smooth, no ‘bits), milk / milk alternatives, water, soft drinks, herbal tea


Caffeine-containing drinks e.g. tea and coffee in moderation


Fruit and vegetable juices with pulp, prune juice


Food type      

Foods to include

Foods to avoid


Smooth nut butter (no whole nuts or skins)


Whole nuts e.g. almonds, peanuts; coconut; seeds e.g. pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds; crunchy nut butter



Smooth or sieved soup.



Sugar, honey, golden syrup, lemon curd, jelly jam


Custard powder, boiled sweets, caramel

Dark / milk / white chocolate


Pepper, salt, herbs and spices in moderation (dried or finely


Gravy, tomato sauce, soy sauce, mayonnaise


Plain crisps, plain pretzels (without

sesame seeds)

Soup with vegetables / pulses e.g. minestrone


Jam or marmalade with skin, peel or pips, mincemeat


Chocolate with dried fruit, nuts or

seeds, coconut e.g. nougat



Wholegrain mustard, pickles, relish






Popcorn, corn chips, Twiglets, vegetable / lentil / quinoa crisps, Bombay mix, Sev, Ghatia, Chevda


Handy hints

  • Eat small meals at regular intervals (every three to four hours)
  • Chew food slowly and thoroughly
  • If introducing new foods, introduce only one at a time. This will help you to rule out foods that aggravate your symptoms
  • Avoid large quantities of caffeine or alcohol as these may worsen your symptoms
  • Avoid rich sauces and spicy foods if they worsen your symptoms
  • It is important to maintain a good variety of foods, especially if you follow these guidelines for more than a few weeks
  • Avoid fizzy drinks if they worsen your symptoms
  • Ready meals and pre-prepared foods can be easy and convenient if you want some simple meal and snack options.  Also, eating out can be a good way to socialise with friends and family.  Be mindful that some reheated foods can be more difficult to digest (so eat in moderation) and watch out for any high fibre ingredients when eating out that might worsen your symptoms. 
  • If eating is difficult, speak to your Dietitian about ways to increase your calorie and protein intake to ensure adequate nutrition. Nutritional supplements may be considered. Your Dietitian may recommend a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.

Example meal plan


  • Low fibre cereal with milk 
  • White toast with spread 
  • Glass of smooth fruit juice

Mid-morning snack

  • Milky Coffee with shortbread biscuit
  • Smooth fruit compote with plain yoghurt


  • Meat/chicken/fish or egg or tofu dish with white bread/white pasta/white rice or mashed potato
  • 1 portion well cooked vegetables as allowed e.g. carrots, turnip

Mid-afternoon snack

  • Cheese and cream crackers
  • Smooth peanut butter on white toast

Evening meal

  • Similar to lunch time meal

Evening snack  / dessert

  • Rice pudding / jelly / tinned fruit / vanilla ice cream

Who should I contact if I have a problem or question?

Dietitian:     ………………………………………………...

Contact number:    ………………………………………….