Low Residue Diet

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY1385-2023
  • Departments: Dietetics, Nutrition Support
  • Last Updated: 31 August 2023

What is a low residue diet?

A low residue diet is made up of foods that will leave a minimal amount of undigested material in the digestive tract.

Why do I need to follow a low residue diet?

A low residue diet may be used when the bowel needs temporary rest, to reduce bowel secretions or prevent bowel obstruction.  It may also be recommended prior to a screening procedure to prepare the bowel.

Foods allowed and those to avoid on a low residue diet

Food Group Foods to Include Foods to Avoid
Meats Well-cooked lean meats e.g. chicken, turkey, ham, beef, pork. Fatty meats and gristle.  Processed meat products such as burgers, sausages, pastry dishes, breaded dishes
Fish White fish without skin, shellfish Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines.

Fried or breaded fish.

Dairy Products Milk, cheese, eggs, plain yoghurt, cream. Yoghurts containing fruit pieces, cereal, added fibre or nuts.

Cheeses containing fruit or nuts.

Bread and Cereals
  • White varieties of bread and baked goods such as chapattis, crumpets, scones.
  • Plain cakes made with white flour e.g. Victoria Sandwich, Madeira.
  • Plain crackers, crispbreads and rice cakes.
  • Plain varieties of biscuits e.g. rich tea, morning coffee, custard creams, bourbon, ginger nuts, shortbread, chocolate biscuits (penguin, club, KitKat).
  • White rice, pasta, noodles, cous cous.
  • Cornflakes, Special K, Rice Crispies, Coco pops, Sugar Puffs.
  • Wholemeal and granary bread and baked products, fruit scones, teacakes.
  • Fruit cakes
  • Crackers made with wholemeal flour or with seeds e.g. Rye crisp breads.
  • Biscuits containing bran (e.g. digestives) or fruit (e.g. fruit shorties).
  • Wholemeal pasta, brown rice.
  • Wheat biscuits, Shredded wheat, Muesli, Granola, All Bran, Porridge.
Puddings Milk puddings, ice cream, jellies, meringue, plain sponges, custard. Puddings made with wholemeal flour or fruit.
Drinks Tea, coffee, milkshakes, milk, hot chocolate, fruit squashes, strained fruit juices. Pure fruit juice with bits, smoothies.
Other Oils, clear soups, jam with no bits, honey, shredless marmalade, boiled sweets, chocolate, toffee, crisps.
  • Pickles, highly spiced foods chocolate or sweets containing fruit or nuts, nuts.
  • Pulses e.g. chickpeas, lentils and beans

What about fruit and vegetables?

Fruit and vegetable should be avoided on this diet.  Potatoes can be included as long as the skin has been removed.

Do I need to take a multivitamin and mineral?

Due to the restrictions of this diet your dietitian or doctor may recommend a multivitamin tablet to meet your vitamin and mineral needs whilst on this diet.

How much fluid do I need?

It is important that you have an adequate fluid intake while following a low residue diet. You should aim to have at least 6 – 8 cups/mugs/glasses of fluid daily unless told otherwise by a health professional. The guidance may be different if you are following this diet to reduce bowel losses and will be guided by your medical team and dietician.

Re-Introducing higher residue foods

Your dietitian will advise you on reintroduction of higher residue foods when it appropriate.

What if I have a reduced appetite or I am losing weight?

If you have a poor appetite or you are unintentionally losing weight, you may find the following information helpful:

  • Eat little and often – try to eat 5 to 6 snacks/meals per day
  • Use full fat and ‘thick and creamy’ varieties of foods, e.g. spreads for bread, yoghurts, milk and full sugar foods and drinks 

Enriching your food will help to increase your energy (calories) and protein intake when your appetite is poor.

All of the foods below are very good sources of energy (calories) and can be added to a variety of foods:

  • Full fat milk
  • Cream/evaporated milk
  • Margarine/butter (full fat)
  • Grated cheese
  • Honey/syrup
  • Sugar

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Dietetic Department on tel no: Hull Royal 01482 674490 Castle Hill: 01482 461941, Queens Centre: 01482 461135

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

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We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

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