Fiber is good for our health as it helps regulate the body’s use of sugar, lowers blood cholesterol, and helps food move through the digestive system. However, there are certain conditions where one is expected to limit fiber intake by concentrating on low fiber foods.
A low-fiber diet is oftentimes needed if there is a flare-up of a bowel problem or right after bowel surgery, and when someone has Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, and other conditions that affect the bowels. There are also some cancer treatments that may require the patient to follow a low-fiber diet.
A low-fiber diet is determined and recommended only by doctors. Remember that fiber plays a big role in our digestive health – generally unless you have the conditions mentioned above. It will also depend on what particular health problem you have to determine if you’ll only eat low fiber foods for a short period of time or if it’s going to be a part of your lifestyle now.
So basically, there are two types of fibers – soluble fiber which absorbs water and turns to gel during digestion, and insoluble fiber which doesn’t dissolve in the stomach and eventually adds to the stool. Some people may find it tolerable to still have soluble fibers in their body even if they’re on a low fiber diet.
Here is a list of low fiber foods that you can include in your meal plans if you are to go on a low-fiber or low-residue diet. Eating these foods will give your bowels a rest and potentially relieve symptoms like inflammation, abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, and gas. You may also want to check this list of foods with high fiber content to make sure you know what foods not to eat while on a low-fiber diet.
Table of Contents
- Types of Low Fiber Foods
- White bread
- Tomato sauces
- White rice
- White pasta
- Smooth peanut butter
- Red meat
- Strained vegetable juice
- Tips for a Low Fiber Diet
Types of Low Fiber Foods
Eggs are great sources of selenium, zinc, iron, copper, and vitamins D, B6, and B12. It’s also high in protein. Eggs help improve levels of good cholesterol, boost nutrient intake for healthy aging, and protect the eyes. It also contains omega-3s that support heart and brain health. So, you can eat eggs to your heart’s delight! In fact, you can make a lot of exciting egg breakfast by adding different spices and herbs.
White bread may not be your first choice when it comes to ‘healthy bread’ but when consumed sparingly white bread is pretty okay. It does contain nutrients as well as carbohydrates, protein, and B vitamins. You have to keep in mind though that too much white bread in your diet can cause your sugar levels to spike and can contribute to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. So, portion control is the key.
Did you know that peaches promote healing? Yes. Well, now you know. A medium-sized peach can give you a healthy dose of vitamin C and A – which helps in healing wounds and strengthening your immune system. It also contains vitamins E and K, folate, niacin, iron, choline, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and copper. So, what’s not to like about peaches, right?
You don’t want to miss the omega-3 fatty acids so enjoy your fish. And enjoy it freely because there is no dietary fiber in it, so you’re in the clear. It’s actually a great source of calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. For a healthy diet, try having a good serving of fish at least twice a week. For ideas on how to best serve your fish, see here a list of spices and fish recipes to get you off to a good start.
You can still enjoy your spaghetti since tomato sauces (no seeds, strained) are considered low fiber food. Pasta sauces are just one way of using tomato sauce, you can also use it in your ratatouille, pizza, stuffed peppers, soups, and more. Tomatoes are best known for their lycopene content which may prevent certain types of cancer. It’s also rich in folate, vitamin C, potassium, and carotenoids.
Yogurt, particularly the plain ones are also in the clear. It’s a great source of protein, calcium, and potassium. It’s also packed with vitamins and minerals while being relatively low in calories. Yogurt benefits the digestive system and may also strengthen immunity, promote heart health, protect against osteoporosis, and boost weight management. Check the labels just to be sure that no fiber is added to them. Now, you may say plain yogurt is no fun, well then, throw in some peaches in there!
White rice although stripped of fiber-rich bran, and nutrient-packed germ still contains carbohydrates, calcium, iron, thiamin, vitamin E, pantothenic acid, and folate. Aside from the fact that it’s easy to digest, rice also is gluten-free, can stabilize blood sugar levels, aids heart health, and keeps the gut healthy. It can only tend to be bad for your health if you’re consuming it in big quantities, again portion control. And you also have to keep in mind that white rice has a higher glycemic index.
Lettuce is naturally low in fiber and low in sodium. But it’s actually high in minerals including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. It’s a great source of vitamin K which helps strengthen bones and reduce the risk of bone fracture. It’s also mainly water so it’s good for hydration. Aside from salads, you can use lettuce in your wraps or spring rolls, soups, smoothies, slaw, and even in grilled or braised dishes.
Papayas are not just low in fiber, it’s also an excellent source for vitamin C. In fact, one large papaya contains 2-3 times of your daily vitamin C requirements. So, you don’t necessarily have to finish it whole of course! It also contains vitamin A, calcium, and potassium. Its antioxidants may reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. You can straight eat up papayas as is but it’ll also make for a great papaya smoothie.
Tofu is a good source of protein and is actually perfect for a protein-rich diet. It also contains all 9 essential amino acids, iron, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, and vitamin B1. Needless to say, it’s quite a nutritional powerhouse. Tofu may protect against diabetes, bad cholesterol, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. It's also a great meal alternative and actually is quite a favorite among vegans.
While white pasta does contain a lot of calories, it tends to be higher in iron and B vitamins compared with whole-grain pasta. If you’re cautious about portion control, then white pasta shouldn’t be a problem. You can also try making a more nutritious dish by adding veggies, herbs, or protein. White pasta doesn’t have to be the ‘bad guy’ in your diet, simply know your limits and find ways on how to serve it more healthily.
Smooth peanut butter
You can still enjoy your peanut butter, just go for the smooth ones because the chunky ones will of course contain more fiber. Peanut butter is rich in protein, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, and vitamin B6. Eating peanut butter helps maintain good cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels which can help lower the risk of heart disease. It can also aid in weight management.
Carrots which are perfect not just for snacking but for dishes as well are rich in beta-carotene. It can help in stabilizing blood sugar levels, strengthening bone health, improving eye health, and lowering the risk of diabetes. Eating carrots is also linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. So, eat away – you’re in the clear with carrots. You can roast, bake, sautee, juice, or even dehydrate them. Really, it's very versatile!
Cheese contains no fiber and will make for a great addition to your low-fiber diet. It’s rich in calcium, fat, protein, zinc, phosphorus, riboflavin, and vitamins A and B12. In fact, cheese made from milk of grass-fed animals contains the highest nutrients including omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin K2. So, enjoy your cheese! Keep in mind that it’s also important to include dairy products in your low-fiber diet.
Red meat like beef, lamb, pork, veal, and venison are particularly rich in iron, creatine, and minerals like zinc and phosphorus. It also contains niacin, vitamin B12, thiamin, and riboflavin. Red meats are perfect for providing the protein that will help build bones and muscles. It can also boost immunity will all of its antioxidant content.
Bananas are a rich source of carbs. Go for the ripe ones because as the banana ripens, the water-soluble pectin in it increases. It also contains potassium, and vitamins B6 and C. Bananas can aid in digestion, boost heart health and reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
Strained vegetable juice
You can still get your daily recommended vegetables per day minus the fiber via juicing. The concentrated vegetable juice still has the vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants less most of its fiber content. While this goes very well with a low-fiber diet, for a normal diet, you can simply make use of the pulp (in sauces, soups, or baked products) to not let the fiber go to waste.
Don’t forget your milk – although keep it to a minimum of no more than 2 cups a day. This is because it may cause diarrhea or irritation in the walls of the intestine. Go for lactose-free ones if you are lactose intolerant. Milk is rich in calcium, phosphorus, potassium, B vitamins, and vitamin D. It’s also an excellent source of protein. Milk helps in preventing osteoporosis, maintaining a healthy weight, and supporting bone health.
Enjoy a cup of coffee with all of its antioxidants and diterpenes. Its caffeine content which is a stimulant can enhance brain function and boost metabolism. It may also reduce internal inflammation and protect against certain diseases. And most importantly, new research links caffeine to a healthy gut microbiome. So, yes, please – enjoy your coffee.
Another food that is rich in high-quality protein is chicken. Its fat is very minimal especially when you opt for lean cuts. Chicken also contains vitamin B12, zinc, iron, copper, tryptophan, and choline. Chicken is great for weight management and can even reduce the risk of heart disease. Its tryptophan content is actually linked to higher levels of serotonin in the brain.
Tips for a Low Fiber Diet
Tip #1 Don't forget water
Drink at least 8 cups or about 2 liters of water every day to help you stay regular in spite of the fiber restriction.
Tip #2 No to gas-forming veggies
Avoid gas-forming vegetables like cabbage, beets, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, parsnips, peppers, lima beans, okra, and potato skins.
Tip #3 Supplements and multivitamins
You may need supplements or multivitamins because you are restricting your diet. But of course, as always, check first with your doctor or dietician.
Tip #4 Watch out your milk intake
Limit milk products to no more than two cups per day. Although milk does not contain fiber, it can cause diarrhea and discomfort because it leaves undigestible food in the intestines. Go for lactose-free milk and other dairy products if you’re lactose intolerant.
Tip #5 Food diary will help
Be observant of each low fiber food’s effect on your body. Don’t be surprised if a particular food still upsets your bowel in spite of it having low fiber. It can be a case-to-case basis. You’ll have to keep a food diary for that.
Tip #6 Meal planning is important
Make a meal plan. Don’t go unprepared on a low-fiber diet. Make sure you understand low fiber foods and plan how you are going to incorporate them with other foods in your diet. Having a meal plan will also help you stay on course and contribute to your diet’s success.
Tip #7 Slow re-introduction
Slowly re-introduce fiber into your diet when symptoms improve. Do it gradually, you would not want to upset your bowels after giving it a good rest. Take it slowly and be mindful of your body’s reaction as you re-introduce a particular food.