healthy food

Low-Fiber Diet: Foods to Choose and Avoid

A low-fiber diet is for people who need to rest their intestinal tract.

A low-fiber diet limits the amount of food waste that has to move through the large intestine. It may also help control diarrhea and abdominal cramping, making mealtime more enjoyable.

Treatments that may cause digestion trouble — especially for high-fiber foods — include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery

Low-Fiber Diet Points to Keep in Mind

  • Avoid any food made with seeds, nuts, or raw or dried fruit.
  • Avoid whole-grain breads and cereals. Purchase products made from refined flour.
  • Do not eat raw fruits or vegetables. Remove skins before cooking.
  • Limit milk and milk products to 2 cups a day. Use lactose-reduced milk or lactase enzymes if you are lactose intolerant.
  • Limit fats since these can increase stool bulk.
  • Avoid tough, fibrous meats with gristle.

Foods to Choose and Avoid on a Low-Fiber Diet

Breads, Cereals, Rice, and Pasta Foods to Choose Foods to Avoid
  • 6 to 11 servings each day.
  • Serving size = 1 slice bread. 1 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta.
  • Enriched white bread, rolls, biscuits, and muffins.
  • Waffles, French toast, and pancakes.
  • White rice, noodles, pasta, and cooked potatoes (no skin).
  • Plain crackers.
  • Cooked cereals: farina, cream of wheat, and grits.
  • Cold cereals: Puffed Rice, Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, and Special K.
  • Breads or rolls with nuts, seeds, or fruit.
  • Whole wheat bread, pumpernickel bread, and cornbread.
  • Potatoes with skin, brown or wild rice, and kasha (buckwheat).
  • Whole grain cereals, bran cereals, and granola-type cereals.
  • Cereals with nuts, seeds, coconut, or dried fruit.
Fruit Foods to Choose Foods to Avoid
  • 2 to 4 servings each day.
  • Strained fruit juice.
  • Canned or cooked fruits without skins or seeds.
  • Ripe banana.
  • Soft cantaloupe and honeydew melon.
  • Prunes and prune juice.
  • Raw or dried fruit.
  • All berries and raisins.
Milk and Dairy Products Foods to Choose Foods to Avoid
  • 2 servings each day.
  • Serving size = 1 cup milk or yogurt. 1/2 ounces cheese.
  • Milk, plain or flavored.
  • Yogurt, custard, and ice cream.
  • Cheese and cottage cheese.
  • Yogurt with nuts or seeds.
Vegetables Foods to Choose Foods to Avoid
  • 3 to 5 servings each day.
  • Serving size = 1/2 cup cooked vegetables.
  • Strained vegetable juice.
  • Well-cooked fresh or canned vegetable: asparagus tips, beets, green beans, carrots, acorn squash (without seeds), pureed spinach, and tomato sauce.
  • Lettuce, if tolerated.
  • Raw or partially cooked (steamed) vegetables.
  • Vegetables with seeds.
  • Sauerkraut.
  • Cooked peas, winter squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, cauliflower, baked beans, and corn.
Meats, Poultry, Fish, Dried Beans, Peas, Eggs, and Cheese Foods to Choose Foods to Avoid
  • 2 to 3 servings or a total of 6 ounces each day.
  • Serving size = 2-3 ounces cooked: 1 egg. 1/2 cup cooked beans.
  • Ground, well-cooked, tender beef, lamb, ham, veal, pork, fish, poultry, and organ meats.
  • Eggs.
  • Tough, fibrous meats with gristle.
  • Dry beans, peas, and lentils.
  • Peanut butter.
Fats, Condiments, and Drinks Choose Foods to Avoid
  • Margarine, butter, oils, mayonnaise, sour cream, and salad dressing.
  • Plain gravies.
  • Sugar, clear jelly, honey, and syrup.
  • Spices, cooked herbs, bouillon, broth, and soups made with allowed ingredients.
  • Coffee, tea, and carbonated drinks.
  • Jam, marmalade, and preserves.
  • Pickles, olives, relish, and horseradish.
Snacks, Sweets, and Desserts Choose Foods to Avoid
  • Plain cakes and cookies.
  • Gelatin, plain puddings, custard, ice cream, sherbet.
  • Popsicles.
  • Hard candy.
  • Pretzels.
  • Nuts, seeds, and coconut.
  • All desserts containing nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut, or made from whole grains or bran.
  • Candy made with nuts or seeds.
  • Popcorn.

Sample Low-Fiber Menu

Breakfast
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice (strained without pulp).
  • 1 cup cream of wheat cereal.
  • 1 scrambled egg.
  • 1 slice white bread.
  • 1 teaspoon margarine and grape jelly.
  • 1 cup milk.
  • Drinks of choice.
Lunch
  • 1/2 cup apple juice.
  • 3 ounces baked chicken.
  • Baked potato (no skin).
  • 1/2 cup cooked green beans.
  • 1 slice white bread.
  • 2 teaspoon margarine.
  • 1/2 cup sherbet.
  • Drinks of choice.
Dinner
  • 3 ounces tender roast beef.
  • 1/2 cup white rice.
  • 1/2 cup cooked carrots.
  • 1 slice white bread.
  • 1 teaspoon margarine.
  • 1/2 cup canned pears.
  • Drinks of choice.
Evening Snack
  • 1 cup milk.
  • 4 graham crackers.