Dietary Advice for Strictures and Adhesions

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-1381-2023
  • Departments: Dietetics, Nutrition Support
  • Last Updated: 31 August 2023


The aim of this leaflet is to provide dietary advice for strictures and adhesions of the bowel.

Stricture: a narrowing of the bowel that could be caused by inflammation or scar tissue.

Adhesion: a band of scar tissue that may form after surgery or due to inflammation.

Severe strictures and adhesions could lead to obstructions, which can cause bloating, discomfort or cramps constipation, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

General Guidance

All food should be chewed well and eaten slowly.

With strictures or adhesions it may be difficult for some foods to pass through, which could cause a blockage. Foods that are softer and easier to digest will generally cause less symptoms. Foods high in fibre tend to be difficult to digest.

In some cases dietary changes needed may be temporary (such as inflammatory strictures) however if you have severe strictures or adhesions, you may need to make long term changes (unless you receive endoscopic or surgical intervention).

Suitable Foods

Please see below guidance on suitable low fibre, soft foods and foods to avoid.

Category of foods Suitable foods Foods to avoid
Vegetables Well cooked soft or mashed vegetables, canned deseeded tomatoes, tomato puree, vegetable juice without pulp Avoid skins, pips and seeds, tough stalks, vegetable juice with pulp, raw salad, raw vegetables such as mushrooms, sweetcorn, peppers, mushrooms, radishes, celery
Soups Creamed, clear or strained soup Soup containing pieces of vegetables
Fruit Fruit juice without pulp

Soft fruits, such as bananas, cooked/stewed fruits without skins

Tinned fruit, pureed fruit

Berries, dried fruit, fruit skin, pips, seeds, pith and stones

Fruit juice with pulp

Meat, fish and protein alternatives Well cooked and soft lean meats and poultry with skin removed. Dishes with sauces, casseroles, stews or minced meat

Fish, eggs, tofu

Tough, gristly meat or skin. Sausage skins, dried sausages with skin
Pulses Well cooked and smooth pureed/mashed lentils Firm beans and pulses with coarse skin such as chickpeas, kidney beans, baked beans, haricot beans, barlotti beans, soya beans
Bread and flour White varieties of bread and baked goods such as wraps, crumpets, scones, chapattis (avoid any crusts).

Plain cakes made with white flour, e.g. Victoria Sandwich, Madeira.

Wholemeal and granary bread and baked produces, fruit scones, teacakes, fruit cakes, cakes containing nuts.

Rye crispbread,

Crackers made with wholemeal flour or with seeds, e.g. Ryvita

Biscuits and cake Biscuits made with white flour, e.g. custard creams, bourbon, ginger nuts, shortbread, Rich Tea, morning coffee.  Chocolate biscuits e.g. Penguin, KitKat Biscuits containing bran, e.g. digestives or fruit, e.g. fruit shorties
Cereals Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Cocopops, Frosties Porridge, Muesli,  Weetabix, Shredded Wheat, Branflakes.  Cereals containing dried fruit
Rice and pasta White rice, pasta, and noodles Wholegrain pasta and noodles. Brown & wild rice
Potato Well-cooked potato, mashed potato Potato with skin on, cold potato dishes such as potato salad
Nuts and seeds Smooth nut butters All nuts and seeds, crunchy nut butters, coconut
Dairy All milk, cheese, smooth yoghurt Yoghurts or dairy products containing fruits, nuts or muesli
Desserts and puddings Custard, milk puddings, jelly, ice cream, mousses, sorbet, pancakes, sponge puddings, trifles, plain madeira cakes, instant whip desserts,  meringue, profiterols, chocolate eclairs Desserts and puddings containing fruits or nuts
Sugars, preserves and sweets Sugar, seedless jam, boiled sweets, fruit gums, peppermint, chocolate without nuts or fruit, syrup, lemon curd, fine cut marmalade, fruit pastilles Jam with seeds/skins, thick marmalade, sweets or chocolate with fruits/nuts
Sauces and flavourings All smooth sauces such as tomato puree and ketchup, cream and cheese sauces, brown sauce, salad cream, mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressing, salt and pepper, herbs and spices, vinegar Sauces with pieces of vegetables, pickle, chutney, wholegrain mustard

Foods can be made soft by:

  • Adding extra sauce or gravy to meat or fish
  • Mincing meats
  • Mashing potatoes or vegetables
  • Cutting crusts off bread, dunking bread in soup or by making toast with a warm topping
  • Blending meat, fish and vegetables

Poor appetite and 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 – 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, i.e. avoid diet or low sugar varieties
  • Add grated cheese into foods, e.g. soup, scrambled egg, mashed potatoes, sauces or sprinkle on top of foods, e.g. spaghetti bolognaise, shepherd’s pie and fish pie
  • Add cream to soup, sauces, custard and desserts
  • Spread butter/margarine thickly onto bread, crackers or toast
  • Add jam, honey or syrup into puddings, cereal or bread

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

You may be recommend to take nutritional supplement drinks to help increase your calorie and protein intake.

If you are struggling with your intake, your GP or practice nurse can refer you to your local community dietitians.

Will this diet cause constipation?

You may still be able to have some fibre in your diet, depending on the severity of the strictures and adhesions. Discuss with your doctor or dietitian. If you are concerned about constipation, or unable to open your bowels, please contact your doctor.

Should I take a multivitamin and mineral?

A general multivitamin and mineral may be required if you are unable to manage fruit and vegetables. Discuss this further with your doctor or dietitian.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Dietetics Department on tel no. 01482 674490

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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