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The Low-Residue Diet – Everything You Need to Know

Low-residue diet refers to a low-fibre diet. Fruits and vegetables have a large amount of fibre, improving digestion. Therefore, it’s generally advisable to eat high-fiber food products. In a low-residue diet, you must avoid fruits with fibre and check the packaging before eating any packaged food. A low-residue diet has its pros and cons. 

Health professionals recommend low-carb diets for various clinical situations and illnesses. Until recently, doctors recommended only liquid diets for bowel preparation before colonoscopies and colorectal surgery. Numerous studies have shown improved or equal intestinal hygiene in patients who have eaten a low-residue diet rather than consuming only liquid foods. A low-residue diet is usually prescribed to patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Healthcare advisers recommend low-carb diets for one reason: to reduce the risk of increased inflammation by reducing colon function and allowing bowel relaxation. It is also beneficial for patients with infectious colitis or malignant diverticulitis.

A 7-Day Low-Residue Diet Plan

If you are unsure about what to include in the diet, it is always best to take the advice of a nutritionist. Here is a sample 7-day diet plan that might help you plan your low-residue diet. It is an accumulation of some fibre-free food products that you can eat in a low-residue diet. However, the given general plan is a sample. 

Day 1

Breakfast – White toast, canned tuna with low-fat mayonnaise, and apple juice; 

Lunch – Tomato soup and Canned vegetables;

Dinner – Yogurt, very ripe banana and white toast with butter

Day 2

Breakfast – White toast, boiled eggs, avocado; 

Lunch – Smooth butter on white bread, ripe banana slices, skim milk; 

Dinner – Poached chicken, tomato sauce, and cheese

Day 3 

Breakfast – Scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, mashed sweet potato (without skin)

Lunch – Meatloaf, mashed potatoes (without skin), white bread;

Dinner – Poached chicken thigh, boiled carrots, white rice; 

Day 4

Breakfast – White flour waffles and apple juice; 

Lunch – White rice, cooked salmon, mayo and sesame oil sauce, cooked mushrooms; 

Dinner – White pasta, cheddar cheese, tomato sauce, ground beef, etc.

Day 5

Breakfast – White flour pancakes, cooked and strained blueberries, ripe banana, yoghurt; 

Lunch – White egg noodles, cream, peeled cooked carrots, mayonnaise, sauteed asparagus tips;

Dinner – White tortilla, chicken soup, cooked diced tomatoes (without skin), sour cream, etc.

Day 6

Breakfast – Scrambled eggs, mashed sweet potato (without skin), skim milk; 

Lunch – Sweet potato and cream soup, sauteed asparagus tips;

Dinner – Chicken soup with peeled, cooked potatoes and carrots, dinner roll

Day 7

Breakfast – Applesauce, white muffin, skim milk; 

Lunch – Egg salad made with mayonnaise, white bread, and soft melon; 

Dinner – Minestrone made with white pasta, cooked peeled vegetables and canned tomato sauce, white dinner roll with butter

Foods to Include

In a low-residue diet, there is no complete avoidance of any food product. The chief point is to avoid adding anything that contains fibre. For example, fruits like oranges have a high fibre content. But if you want to incorporate them into your diet, you can go for orange juice. It automatically eliminates the fibre content. 

Food products with low-fibre content are:

1. Bread, Cereals, Rice, and Pasta 

Enriched white bread, rolls, biscuits, muffins, crackers French toast, pancakes, and waffles Refined cold cereals: puffed rice, puffed wheat, corn flakesWhite rice pasta

2. Fruit

Canned or cooked fruits Strained fruit juice Ripe bananas Soft melon

3. Milk and Dairy Products

Milk, yoghourt, custard, and ice cream Cheese and cottage cheese

4. Vegetables

Well-cooked and canned vegetables without seeds Lettuce Strained vegetable juice Potatoes without skin

5. Meats, Poultry, Fish, and Eggs

Ground, well-cooked/tender beef, lamb, ham, veal, pork, fish, poultry, and organ meats.eggs

6. Fats, Condiments, and Beverages

Butter, oils, mayonnaise, sour cream, salad dressing, plain gravies Sugar, clear jelly, honey, and syrupSpices, cooked herbs, bouillon, broth, and soups made with recommended foods Coffee, tea, and carbonated beverages -plain cakes and cookies Gelatin, puddings, custard, ice cream, sherbet, popsicles

Foods to Avoid

Knowing what you cannot eat in a low-residue diet is more important. 

1. Bread, Cereals, Rice, and Pasta 

Bread products made with whole-grain flour, seeds, nuts, fruit, Cornbread and graham crackers Brown rice, wild rice, and buckwheat -whole grain cereals, bran cereals, granola-type cereals, and cereals with nuts, seeds, coconut, or dried fruit 

2. Fruit

Raw or dried fruit All berries Prune juice

3. Milk and Dairy Products

Yoghurt with nuts or seeds

4. Vegetables

Raw vegetables and vegetables with seedsSauerkraut, winter squash, and peas Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, cauliflower, baked beans, cornPotatoes with skin.

5. Meats, Seeds, and Nuts

Tough, fibrous meats with gristle Dry beans, peas, and lentils Peanut butter

6. Fats, Snacks, Condiments, and Beverages

Nuts, seeds, coconut Jam, marmalade, and preserves Pickles, olives, relish, and horseradish All desserts containing nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut or made from whole grains or bran Candy made with nuts or seeds Popcorn

Pros of a Low-Residue Diet

Preps the Bowel Before Surgery or Colonoscopy

Doctors recommend a liquid diet before a colonoscopy or bowel surgery. The process is called bowel prep, where the bowel system prepares for the surgery. It is vital to keep the colon clean before performing a colonoscopy. As per a study, a low-residue diet is effective for intestinal preparation before a colonoscopy.

Helps with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a common disorder involving chronic digestive tract inflammation. The types of inflammatory bowel disease include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In this disease, the digestive tract swells up, which causes discomfort and pain during bowel movements.

The fibre content increases the stool size, making the patient uncomfortable. In addition, since the digestive tract becomes very sensitive, fibre-rich food might cause extreme pain. Hence, it is vital to follow a low-residue diet if you are suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. However, it is essential to consult the doctor about the condition beforehand.

May Reduce Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea causes loose, watery stools (bowel movements). Acute diarrhoea is a type of diarrhoea that lasts a short time. It is a common problem and can occur in any age group. It usually lasts about one or two days, but it may last longer according to the seriousness of the condition.

If you have diarrhoea, it is advisable to eat low-residue food. With a low-residue diet, less stool gets formed. Therefore, it gradually relieves the symptoms of diarrhoea. It is also helpful in case of bloating or gas issues.

It Acts as a Transition From a Liquid Diet to a Solid Diet.

Many people follow a liquid-only diet. However, it is vital to switch back to solid food sometimes. The body will resist the change if you suddenly shift to a solid diet after a long time of a liquid diet. Therefore, it is essential to make the shift gradually and not abruptly. The low-residue diet helps in this transition. 

Helps Resolve Gastroparesis 

Gastroparesis is a disease that causes delayed gastric emptying. If you are suffering from gastroparesis, a low-residue diet will be helpful. According to a study, diarrhoea is the general cause of gastroparesis. It makes the stomach feel full shortly after starting the meal. It can also be cured by following a low-residue diet.

The HealthifyMe Note

A low-residue diet is good for your digestive health if you have some type of IBD or require colon surgery. The direct shift from a liquid to a solid diet would be detrimental to the gut. The low residue diet is efficient for transitioning from a liquid to a solid diet. 

Cons of a Low Residue Diet

Reduces Fibre Content

Fibre content is vital for a healthy body, and a low-residue diet prohibits fibre consumption. However, a low fibre diet may cause constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, heart disease and some cancers. Therefore a low-residue diet is suitable only for specific conditions. 

Causes Nutrient Deficiencies

Avoiding certain foods can cause you to skip essential nutrients, which may lead to certain nutrient deficiencies. If you have been prescribed a low-residue diet, consult a doctor about when you can shift to a regular balanced diet. It is better not to continue the low-residue diet for longer since it may also cause blood sugar fluctuations.

Reduces Bowel Movement

If you are following a low-residue diet, it will reduce bowel production in the body. Fibre softens and expands the size of your stool. It promotes good bowel health. Constipation or irritable bowel syndrome can result from a low-fibre diet.

May Cause Excess Hunger

Fibre gets broken down gradually once it enters the stomach. Due to the slow breakdown of fibre, your stomach remains full for a long time. If you start feeling hungry soon after your meal, there is a possibility that you need more fibre in your body. If you start eating more, you will gain more weight which can cause high blood sugar or diabetes. 

The HealthifyMe Note

A low fibre/low residue diet is a diet that aims for fewer and decreased bowel movements each day. It limits dietary fibre to less than 10-15g per day. Health professionals recommend a low-residue diet only when individuals suffer from specific health conditions. However, one should not follow it for an extended period.

Summary

It is generally advisable to eat high-fibre food products. In a low-residue diet, you must avoid fruits containing fibre and products like nuts, seeds, coconut, jam, marmalade, pickles, olives, relish, and horseradish. Make sure that you avoid all desserts containing nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut, or made from whole grains or bran. 

The pros of a low-residue diet include bowel preparation before surgery or colonoscopy, which helps cure inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and gastroparesis. It is also beneficial for people transitioning from a liquid to a regular balanced or solid diet. The cons of the low-residue diet include reduced bowel movement. It may also cause excess hunger and result in weight gain. It can also cause nutrient deficiencies if continued for an extended period. Therefore, it would be best if you continued a low-residue till it is required. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What foods are low in residue?

A. There are a large number of options for a low-residue diet. You can include refined grain products like white bread, cereals, pasta, white rice, juices without pulp or seeds, meats, fish, and eggs. Furthermore, you can eat various other vegetables like carrots, cucumber, mushrooms, etc. You need to ensure that the vegetables are well-cooked and seedless. One can also consume dairy products like milk, yoghurt, puddings, and cream-based soups.

A. Yes, one can eat a salad on a low-residue diet is completely fine. You need to make sure that the vegetable is not high in fibre. You should cook the vegetables soft, peeled, and without seeds. In addition, you can include well-cooked or canned vegetables, no skins or seeds, eggplant, beets, carrots, asparagus, yellow squash, spinach, pumpkin, and potatoes.

Q. How do you eat a low-residue diet?

A. Low-residue diet refers to the low fibre content in the diet. In a low residue diet, you must avoid products with fibre, typically consumed if you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or gastroparesis. It is advisable to follow the low-residue diet only if the doctor has prescribed it.

Q. Can you eat cheese on a low-residue diet?

A. Yes, you can eat cheese on a low-residue diet. In a low-residue diet, you can consume other dairy products like milk, yoghurt, custard, ice cream, and cottage cheese. Although you need to be very sure that you do not eat yoghurt or ice cream containing nuts. You cannot eat nuts in a low-residue diet.

Q. Can you eat macaroni and cheese on a low-residue diet?

A. Yes, you can eat macaroni on a low-residue diet. Macaroni and cheese are both low-residue products. But if you plan to eat out, ensure you do not include any other fibre-containing food product in your macaroni and cheese.

Q. Can you eat mashed potatoes on a low-residue diet?

A. Yes, mashed potatoes are advisable in a low-residue diet. However, you must ensure that you peel off the potato properly. It would be best if you were sure not to eat the potato peel. Also, do not add any other high-fibre ingredients to your mashed potatoes. 

Q. Can you eat pizza on a low-residue diet?

A. Pizza is considered low-fibre food if you have the regular white pizza flour crust. Therefore, if you plan to make a pizza at home, it is advisable to go through the list and make it according to that. Do not put in any fibre-containing product. On the other hand, if you are willing to buy a made pizza, ask for the ingredient list before consuming it.

Q. What vegetables can I eat on a low-residue diet?

A. Vegetables you can eat in a low-residue diet include eggplant, beets, carrots, asparagus, yellow squash, spinach, pumpkin, and potatoes. You must ensure the vegetables are peeled, without seeds, and cooked appropriately. You can also eat well-cooked and canned vegetables without seeds, lettuce, and strained vegetable juice.

Q. Can you eat fried food on a low-residue diet?

A. It is best to avoid fried food on a low-residue diet. It might harm the system by slowing down the digestive process. In addition, you should completely exclude any fried potato in the form of french fries or potato chips. 

Q. How long should you stay on a low-residue diet?

A. You should not carry on this diet for more than five days, or it might start harming your digestive system. A low fibre diet can lead to constipation or irritable bowel syndrome. It is best to avoid a low-residue diet if it is not necessary. 

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