You might be thinking why low residue foods? Well, if you’re experiencing irritation in the gastrointestinal tract, narrowing of the bowel, preparing for a colonoscopy, just had surgery, or undergoing radiation treatment, then you might really need low residue foods in your diet.
Low residue foods are basically food that is low in roughage or fibrous indigestible material that cannot be broken down completely with digestive enzymes. These foods are preferred when in a low residue diet as recommended by health providers for any of the previously mentioned conditions.
This diet is meant to be followed temporarily. It only aims to improve symptoms during heightened or acute episodes. Once the symptoms, like perhaps diarrhea, abdominal cramping, gastroparesis, or bowel obstruction, have subsided, high fiber foods can be gradually re-introduced. This is of course while carefully noting any reaction or sudden onset of any symptoms.
Again, it’s not a long-term diet. Remember that by restricting your diet with low-residue ones and avoiding fiber-rich foods, you are bound to miss on other essential nutrients that your body needs. Sometimes you will be needing some kind of supplements to balance things out. This is also another reason why it should only be done with a health provider’s recommendation.
Here are 10 types of low residue foods that you can incorporate in your meal planning if you’re advised to go on a low residue diet – this is in addition to your low fiber foods. See also some do’s and don’ts when carrying out this specific type of diet at the end of the list.
Low Residue Foods
Aside from avocado’s high levels of healthy and beneficial fats, it also contains riboflavin, niacin, folate, magnesium, potassium, pantothenic acid, and vitamins C, B6, E, and K. It’s good for supporting heart health, reducing the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, preventing osteoporosis, improving digestion, and may even help in preventing cancer.
Avocados are great in salads, soups, guacamole, sushi rolls, scrambled eggs, and smoothies. It’s a great and healthy substitute for sour cream or mayo as well. And also, have you tried grilling avocado? You should.
Cantaloupe although mostly water is packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. It also contains folic acid, calcium, zinc, copper, iron, niacin, choline, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium. It helps protect our cells from damage and keeps eyes, skin, bones, and immune systems healthy. Its potassium content is vital to the heart, muscles, and blood pressure to function properly.
You can simply enjoy cantaloupe on its own, simply slice, cube, or scoop it. You can also add them to salad or soups. If you want, you can also try making a puree. Cantaloupe smoothies and popsicles are great ideas, too. It’s one of the low FODMAP foods that people usually eat to manage IBS symptoms.
Applesauce is basically cooked apples that are sometimes spiced or sweetened. And because it’s basically apples, it’s rich in antioxidants called phytochemicals. It also contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, B6, and C, and a small amount of quercetin. Applesauce’s antioxidants may help in reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It’s also good for boosting the immune system and digestive health.
Applesauce can be served as a side dish or accompaniment to roast pork, smoked meat, pancakes, latkes, or French fries. It can be served as a dessert, too, or used as an ingredient.
You can keep enjoying this pantry staple even if you’re on a low-residue diet. Saltines made with refined wheat or rye flour are safe to eat. It’s low in fat and calories. And although it’s not exactly packed with nutrients, it’s a great snack treat that you can enjoy without worrying about weight gain.
If you have the time, you can easily make saltines yourself. It’s a lot easier than you think and you'll have better control, too, of what goes in it. Aside from snacking, they’re also great as appetizers. And if by any chance you run out of breadcrumbs and have quite a stock of saltines in the pantry, then simply crush them to substitute.
Muffins, as long as they are baked with refined wheat or rye flour and without fruits or nuts, are in the clear. They can be a part of your low residue diet. You can simply make them yourself for breakfast if you’re wary about store-brought muffins’ contents – and rightfully so because they’re usually packed with added sugar.
Muffins can be paired with a well-cooked omelet or yogurt. You can also top it with cream cheese, mashed avocado, or ripe bananas.
Keep enjoying your plain bagels even when you’re on a low residue diet. A normal-sized bagel contains thiamine, manganese, copper, zinc, iron, and calcium. As long as it’s made from refined wheat then you’re pretty good.
Just stir clear from those with added dried fruits, and extra sugar. Bagels from refined grains are usually enriched with some nutrients to boost their nutritional value. Of course, always practice moderation, remember that bagels are high in calories and refined carbs.
Plain puddings for desserts are also in the clear! It contains vitamin D, magnesium, calcium, and an array of other vitamins and minerals in small amounts. Its calcium content boosts healthy bones and teeth and also affects muscle contraction, hormone secretion, and nerve pulses transmission.
Whether your puddings are baked, boiled, steamed, or chilled, they can help you satisfy your sweet cravings even when you're on a low residue diet. Just make sure that it doesn’t have wholemeal flour, dried fruit, nuts, or other fruits that will contradict your low residue diet.
Asparagus is a great source of antioxidants that helps not only in preventing the accumulation of harmful free radicals in our body but in reducing the risk of chronic diseases. These antioxidants include vitamins C and E, flavonoids, and polyphenols. Asparagus can help in improving digestion, supporting a healthy pregnancy, lowering blood pressure, and aiding weight loss.
Asparagus can be eaten raw or cooked via steaming, boiling, sauteing, grilling, or pan-frying. They’re great for a quick and delicious side dish. You can also add them to salads, sandwiches, or smoothies. If you have a baby at home, you can also try making purees.
Pumpkin’s hearty flesh is a good source of vitamins A, B2, C, and E, calcium, iron, copper, potassium, and manganese. Its antioxidant content protects the body from free radicals. It’s also good for supporting good eyesight, preventing diseases like cancer and dementia, boosting heart health, and helping maintain healthy skin, lungs, bones, and kidneys.
You can simply saute, bake, or grill them. You can also add them in sauces, dips, soups, stews, or even smoothies. Pumpkins are a great way to add color to your meal and get a handful of nutrients while still keeping up with your low residue diet.
Margarine contains unsaturated good fats – polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which helps in lowering bad cholesterol when substituted for saturated fat. Vegetable oil-based margarine is also rich in phytosterols which may reduce levels of LDL cholesterol. Be cautious though of margarine that is high in trans fat.
Margarine has a taste, texture, and appearance that is very similar to butter. It can be used as toppings for crackers, bread, baked goods, and other snacks. It is also a great ingredient to work with not just when baking but when cooking as well.
Low-Residue Diet Do’s and Don’ts
Now that you have a pretty good idea of the different types of low residue foods, here are some additional tips on how you can go about a low-residue diet.
Don’t be too quick to start the diet
Make some preparations ahead and don’t blindly start one just because! Get as many resources as you can to help you navigate into it. Do some reading online! Absorb as much information as you can to help yourself get ready, both mentally and physically, before you dive into a low-residue diet.
Do have a support system
Succeeding in any kind of diet will need some kind of support (either from family or friends, or both!). It is of course important that you have a health professional’s advice to help and guide you, but being able to talk to family or friends and get their support will increase your chances of succeeding.
Don’t mistaken it for a long-term diet
A low-residue diet is meant to offer relief to those experiencing IBD and can be done for a period of time – as recommended of course by doctors. After which, high-fiber foods can then be slowly added back into the diet while carefully observing if it’s causing any digestive symptoms.
Do read food labels
Make reading labels a habit for you never know what’s been added to packaged food at a glance. For instance, there are yogurt, cereals, or beverages that are being formulated with fiber – something you didn’t exactly want if you’re on a low-residue diet.
Don’t skip on meal planning
Meal planning is one of the keys to succeeding in any diet plan. You have to put it in writing. Take the time to actually pen a meal plan, preferably at the beginning of each week. Write down the list of groceries that you’ll be needing. Make a note of what you plan to have each meal for the week. This way, you’ll have a concrete guide on how to go about it instead of just winging it.
Do prepare foods that are tender
The manner in which you prepare food also affects a low-residue diet. You want to aim for a more tender food that can be achieved via poaching, simmering, stewing, steaming, baking, braising, or microwaving. You may want to pass roasting, grilling, or broiling in the meantime.