The Low-Residue Diet

By | April 28, 2015

Consuming a low-residue diet can help decrease bleeding, pain and other symptoms during severe flare-ups. One option to try is a diet, designed to reduce the amount of dietary fiber and residue that goes through your digestive system.

When followed correctly, a low-fiber diet can help reduce your most painful symptoms, such as abdominal cramps and bloating. While a low-residue diet isn’t intended for long-term, it can help heal the bowel during active flare-ups of ulcerative colitis and crohns disease.

Low-Residue Diet: What to Avoid

Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plants that cannot be readily digested by the body. Residue is the undigested remains of fiber and food that goes into the stool.
A low-residue diet limits the amount of indigestible or hard-to-digest fiber in the diet to reduce the amount of residue that enters the large intestine.
The goal of a low-residue diet for people with IBD is to limit total fiber consumption to less than 10 to 15 grams of fiber per day. To achieve that, avoid foods that make the bowel work more, like beans and legumes, whole grains, and most raw fruits and vegetables.
Nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and other foods with hulls like corn, also add residue to the stool and should be avoided on a low-residue diet. You’ll also want to skip fatty, spicy and sugary foods.

Low-Residue Diet: What to Eat

Put together low-residue meals from these groups:

Cooked vegetables. You can include spinach, pumpkin, eggplant, skinless potatoes, green beans, wax beans, asparagus, beets, carrots, and yellow squash (without seeds) as long as they are thoroughly cooked or canned. You can also drink juices made from these vegetables. Although most raw vegetables are high in fiber and you want to avoid them, you can enjoy lettuce, cucumbers, onions, and zucchini raw.

Refined grains. You can have white bread and dry cereals containing less than one gram of fiber per serving (such as puffed rice, corn flakes, and others) on a low-residue diet.

Very ripe fruits. Apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, papayas, peaches, plums, watermelon, and nectarines are okay to eat on a low-residue diet. You can include juices without pulp and fruit sauces like applesauce, but avoid all other raw fruits.

Protein. Choose servings of cooked meat, chicken, poultry, fish and eggs. Make sure the meats are tender and not chewy — and remove all residue-producing gristle.

Before starting a low-residue diet, talk to your doctor or registered dietician about whether you may need a supplement to meet all your vitamin and mineral requirements, both while you’re on it and on an everyday basis.

Kale & Swiss Chard Soup (Recipe)

1 large (or 2 small) bunch(es) Swiss or rainbow chard (keep those stems!)
A big few handfuls of kale, de-stemmed, washed and chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped with stems
1/2 cup brown rice
1 large carrot, chopped
1 medium size yellow onion, sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups chicken meat or vegetable stock (homemade is best!)
2 tsp. ground coriander seeds
2 tsp. ground cumin seeds


Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot and sweat the onions, carrots and brown rice until soft (about 5 to 7min). In the meantime, chop your chard stems scant 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick and add to the pot.
Using a mortar pestle, grind the cumin and coriander and then add to the veggies. Add the garlic smashing into the vegetable mixture until fragrant.
Lay the kale, chard and cilantro on top and salt generously. Begin to fold the greens into the veggies, cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat down slightly until the greens begin to wilt. Next add your chicken meat and bring the heat back up to a boil, then a gentle simmer until all of the vegetables are tender.
Remove from heat and cool briefly, then pour the soup into your high-speed blender or Vitamix and puree until smooth, rich and creamy. The color should be a nice, deep green.
Bring the soup back to the pot over low heat. I recommend incorporating some toasted baguette or a nice piece of crusty gluten free bread for dipping.

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