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Low fibre diet

Read our guide below about to help you understand how to restrict your fibre intake for a medical reason.

You can also download a PDF version of this patient information by following the link on the right.

Who needs to follow a low fibre diet?

You may need to follow a low fibre diet if you have:

  • bowel adhesions or narrowing of the colon
  • during an active flare-up of ulcerative colitis, CrohnÔÇÖs disease or diverticulitis
  • diarrhoea
  • excessive wind and bloating
  • abdominal pain or cramping
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • a high output ileostomy/colostomy.

You may also need to follow a low fibre diet:

  • before and/or after surgery
  • after the insertion of a colonic stent

You will be advised exactly how to do this with the guidance and support of your dietitian.

What is fibre?

Dietary fibre (also known as roughage) is the part of food that can not be easily digested.

Our small intestine does not digest fibre. It moves into our colon or large intestine where some of it will breaks down. Fibre also helps our stools form a ÔÇśbulkÔÇÖ and makes them solid.

a diagram showing the human digestive system

Different types of fibre

There are two main types of fibre – soluble and insoluble fibre.

Soluble fibre

It’s easily digested in our large intestines/colon and dissolves with water to form a gel.

Examples include:

  • porridge oats
  • the flesh of fruits, for example apples, pears and bananas
  • root vegetables.

Insoluble fibre

It passes through our body without breaking down or absorbing. For example:

  • the skins, pips and seeds of fruit and vegetables
  • fibrous fruits and vegetables, for example, rhubarb, celery
  • raw or undercooked vegetables
  • vegetables that humans can not digest, for example, mushrooms, sweetcorn, lettuce and other salad leaves.

Tomatoes have the 2 different stypes of fibre. The fleshy part of the tomato has soluble fibre. This will dissolve in the large intestine and helps to add bulk to stools.

The seeds and skin of a tomato contain insoluble fibre. Your gut can not digest them.

What is a low fibre diet?

It helps you to reduce the volume and frequency of your stool. It also lengthens the time food passes through your gut.

How long will I need to follow this diet?

We usually only it for a short period of time. Your dietitian will follow your progress and advise you on the next stage of your treatment.

What foods do I need to avoid and what can I eat?

These include:

  • the pips, skins and seeds of fruits and vegetables
  • wholegrains
  • pulses
  • beans.

You must limit how many fruit and vegetables you eat. You must aim to have no more than 1 portion of fruit and 1 portion of vegetables each day.  A portion is roughly 80 grams, or the equivalent of a handful.

You’ll find a full list of foods to avoid and which ones you can eat by food type below. Always choose from the ÔÇśfoods allowedÔÇÖ lists.

Foods allowed Foods to avoid
Apples (peeled) Blackberries
Apricots (fresh, peeled) Blackcurrants
Bananas Blueberries
Mango Cherries
Melon Clementines
Nectarines (peeled) Coconut
Papaya Cranberries (fresh and dried)
Pears (peeled) Dates
Peaches (peeled) Dried apricots
Plums (peeled) Figs
Watermelon (no pips) Grapefruit
Other Grapes
Fruit juice (no bits) Kiwi
Pur├ęed, stewed or cooked fruit (without skins, pips or stones) Mandarins
Tinned fruit Oranges
Fruit sauces and coulis with pips removed (for example sieved), raspberry coulis, apple sauce Passion fruit
Pomegranate
Prunes
Raisins
Raspberries
Redcurrants
Rhubarb
Satsumas
Strawberries
Sultanas
Other
Fruit juice with bits

Limit to 1 portion each day. All vegetables must be well cooked.

Foods allowed Foods to avoid
Aubergine (peeled and deseeded) Asparagus
Avocado Baby corn
Broccoli (no stalks) Bean sprouts
Butternut squash Beetroot
Cabbage (white or green) Bok choi
Carrots Broad beans
Cauliflower (no stalks) Brussel sprouts
Celeriac Beans (French, green, runner)
Chilli pur├ęe Celery
Courgette (peeled) Chicory
Cucumber (peeled and deseeded) Chilli (fresh)
Daikon (Asian radish) Coleslaw
Garlic pur├ęe Edamame
Gem squash Fennel
Ginger pur├ęe Garlic (whole, raw or undercooked)
Horseradish pur├ęe Gherkins
Lemongrass pur├ęe Ginger
Marrow (peeled) Globe artichokes
Onion (well-cooked) Jerusalem artichokes
Parsnips Kohlrabi
Patty pan (peeled) Leeks
Peppers (peeled and deseeded) Lemongrass
Pumpkin Lettuce
Shallots (well-cooked) Mangetout
Spinach (well cooked) Mushrooms
Swede Okra
Tomato passata Olives
Tomatoes (peeled and deseeded) Onions (whole, raw or undercooked)
Turnips Pak choi
Smooth vegetable soups (made with allowed vegetables) Peas
Pickled onions
Radish
Rocket
Salad leaves
Shallots (whole, raw or undercooked)
Soya beans
Spinach (raw)
Spring greens
Spring onions
Sugar snap peas
Sweetcorn
Tomatoes (whole, with skins and pips)
Watercress
Other
All skins, pips and seeds
Tough stalks of vegetables for example cauliflower, broccoli
Raw vegetables
Soup with whole vegetables, for example, minestrone
Foods allowed (breakfast cereals) Foods to avoid (breakfast cereals)
Coco Pops® Cereals containing dried fruit, seeds or nuts
Cheerios® All Bran®
Cornflakes® Bran Flakes®
Frosties® Crunchy Nut Cornflakes®
Porridge (plain) Fruit n Fibre®
Ready Brek® Granola
Rice Krispies® Muesli
Special K® (without berries) Oats (raw)
Breads (white only) Porridge with berries
Bagels (plain) Special K with berries
Brioche Sultana Bran®
Cheese scones Wholemeal, wholegrain and bran cereals
Crackers (without seeds and grains) Weetabix®
Crispbreads Breads (wholemeal, wholegrain, granary, rye, seeded)
Croissants Bagels
Crumpets (plain) Crackers (wholegrain)
Melba toast Crispbreads (wholegrain or seeded)
Muffins (plain, without berries) Granary bread, rolls, baguettes, pitta bread, wraps
Oat cakes Malted bread (Soreen®)
Rice cakes Muffins (with berries or made with wholegrain flour)
Scotch pancakes (plain) Multigrain bread
White bread, rolls, baguettes Rye bread
White pitta bread Seeded bread
White tortilla wraps Wholegrain bread, rolls, baguettes, pitta bread, wraps
Flour Flour
Chickpea flour Bran
Cornflour Granary flour
Cornmeal Wholemeal flour
Rice flour Wholegrain flour
Potato flour
White flour
Cassava (Garri) flour
Yam flour
Foods allowed  Foods to avoid 
Buckwheat Barley
Hash browns (plain) Brown pasta
Jacket potato (no skins) Brown rice
Millet Hash browns (made with onion)
Noodles (egg, rice, vermicelli, udon) Pastry (made with wholemeal flour)
Pastry (made with white flour) Pearl barley
Plantain (peeled) Skins of jacket potatoes
Potatoes peeled white or sweet (boiled, mashed, fried or roasted) Spelt
Rice pudding Wholemeal couscous
Tapioca, sago, semolina Wholemeal pasta
Waffles Wholemeal rice
White couscous Whole wheat couscous
White pasta Wild rice
White rice (long grain, basmati)
Yams (peeled)
Yorkshire pudding (made with white flour)
Foods allowed Foods to avoid
All types of fish, meat and meat products (fresh, frozen, tinned) Coarse pat├ę made with onions
Eggs Convenience items which contain whole grains and vegetables for example, onions, peppers
Quorn products Skin and bones of fish
Smooth pat├ę or liver sausage
Soya mince
Tofu

You must limit these to 25g per day

Foods allowed Foods to avoid
Ground nuts All beans (black, borlotti, cannellini, kidney, soya, baked beans, broad beans)
Ground seeds All pulses (lentils, yellow split peas)
Marzipan All seeds, for example, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, poppy, chia
Smooth peanut butter and other nut butters All whole nuts
Smooth hummus Chickpeas
Crunchy nut butters
Hummus with whole chickpeas
Foods allowed Foods to avoid
Butter, margarine, spread Cheese (with nuts, seeds or dried fruits)
Buttermilk Ice cream and sorbet (with nuts, seeds, pips or whole fruit)
Cheese (without dried fruit and nuts) Yoghurt (with nuts, seeds, or whole fruit)
Cream, cr├Ęme fra├«che
Custard
Milk (almond, cowÔÇÖs, goatÔÇÖs, oat, rice, sheep’s, soya)
Yoghurt (natural, smooth)
Ice cream and sorbet (no nuts and seeds)
Foods allowed Foods to avoid
Boiled or jelly sweets Biscuits containing dried fruit (fig rolls, Garibaldi®)
Biscuits (rich tea, custard creams, malted milk, bourbon creams, Nice®, ginger nuts, shortbread) Cakes made with dried fruit and nuts
Cakes made with white flour (without dried fruit or nuts) Cereal bars containing dried fruit and nuts
Chocolate (without dried fruit and nuts) Chocolate with nuts, seeds and dried fruit
Jelly or milk jelly (without fruit) Flapjacks
Marshmallows Fruit scones
Pancakes Hot cross buns
Scones (plain) Jelly made with fruit
Toffee, fudge Tea cakes
Wholegrain biscuits (Hobnobs®, digestives)
Foods allowed Foods to avoid
Cheese biscuits (mini cheddars, Ritz®, TUC® sandwich biscuits) Bombay Mix
Cheese scones Dips that contain whole tomatoes, cucumbers, onions (salsa, tzatziki)
Cheese straws Nuts
Crisps, tortilla chips Popcorn
Plain bread sticks
Smooth dips (taramasalata, smooth guacamole)
Foods allowed Foods to avoid
Barbecue sauce Chutney (with fruit)
Bovril® Jam with seeds
Brown sauce Marmalade with peel
Dried herbs Pickles and relishes
Ginger, garlic, lemongrass, chilli, horseradish pur├ęe Salad dressing made with wholegrain mustard
Golden syrup Stalks and leaves of fresh herbs
Gravy (no onions) Wholegrain mustard
Honey
Lemon curd
Maple syrup
Marmite®
Mayonnaise
Nutella®, hazelnut spread
Powdered spices
Salad cream
Salt and pepper
Seedless jam or marmalade
Smooth nut butters (almond, hazelnut, peanut)
Smooth chutneys
Smooth mustard
Soy sauce
Tabasco® sauce
Tomato ketchup
Treacle
Worcester sauce
Vegemite®

What kind of meals can I eat?

You can eat things like:

  • avocado on white toast
  • eggs (omelette, scrambled, poached or boiled with white toast)
  • cereal, for example, corn flakes, Rice Krispies┬«
  • Ready Brek┬« or plain porridge
  • natural yoghurt and fruit (from the allowed list – 1 portion per day)
  • smooth yoghurt, fromage frais, Petit Filou┬«, Skyr┬« yoghurt, Coconut collaborative┬« natural yoghurt
  • glass of fruit juice (no bits)
  • milkshake (made with one portion of ÔÇśallowedÔÇÖ fruit only)

You can have:

  • lancashire hotpot
  • cottage pie / shepherdÔÇÖs pie
  • corned beef hash
  • stews and casseroles
  • grilled, roasted, saute├ęd meat, fish or tofu
  • minced meats, for example, chilli con carne (no beans) or bolognese
  • macaroni cheese
  • poached / grilled fish (no bones)
  • fish pie, fish mornay
  • tinned fish (tuna, salmon ÔÇô no bones) with mayonnaise or sauce
  • meat or fish curry (no onions or peppers or vegetables from the ÔÇśavoidÔÇÖ lists)

Serve any of the above with:

  • mashed potatoes
  • mashed sweet potatoes
  • peeled boiled potatoes
  • polenta
  • white couscous
  • quinoa
  • white rice
  • white pasta.

Always limit vegetables to one portion per day and choose from the ÔÇśallowedÔÇÖ lists

These include:

  • eggs – scrambled, poached, fried or boiled
  • omelette with cheese
  • quiche (no onions or products from the avoid lists)
  • souffl├ęs, for example, cheese, salmon

You could also have white toast, crumpets, muffins or pitta bread with:

  • tinned salmon or tuna with mayonnaise
  • smooth houmous
  • avocado
  • cheese
  • boneless sardines or kippers
  • eggs

Sandwiches made with white bread, baps, bagels with:

  • cold meats, for example, chicken, turkey
  • corned beef
  • pat├ę and pastes ie. salmon, beef, chicken
  • smoked salmon and cream cheese
  • tinned tuna or salmon
  • egg mayonnaise
  • smooth hummus
  • Marmite┬« or Bovril┬«
  • smooth nut butters
  • cheese or cream cheese.

Soup options include:

  • chicken, oxtail, carrot and coriander, butternut squash
  • wontons in clear soup or broth

Avoid soups with lots of vegetables or soups that contain beans or lentils

You could add a small portion of noodles or pasta to a smooth soup or broth.

Jacket potatoes (no skin) could include:

  • cheese and butter
  • tuna mayonnaise
  • egg mayonnaise
  • tikka or curry sauce
  • coronation chicken

White crackers or breadstick options include:

  • dips for example, sour cream, taramasalata, guacamole
  • tuna, salmon or egg mayonnaise
  • smooth hummus

You could also try avocado with flaked crab meat or prawns in a cocktail sauce.

 

Options include:

  • milk puddings for example plain or chocolate custard, rice pudding, semolina, tapioca
  • Sponge pudding or cake with cream, smooth ice cream or custard, for example Madeleines, Battenberg, Madeira, Angel Slices, caramel cake bars, mini chocolate rolls, lemon slices
  • Blancmange, mousse, fruit fool, trifle (no pips), milk jelly, Angel Delight┬«, instant whip
  • tinned or stewed fruit with added cream, yoghurt, cr├Ęme fraiche, custard or ice cream (one portion of fruit per day)
  • fruit crumble (no oats or dried fruit) with added cream, yoghurt, ice cream or custard (one portion of fruit per day)
  • smooth yoghurt, fromage frais, egg custard, cr├Ęme caramel
  • smooth ice cream, sorbet, frozen yoghurt, Mini Milk┬«, Mini Magnum┬«

Options include:

  • 1 piece of fruit (only one portion from the allowed fruit per day)
  • plain biscuits for example rich tea, Nice┬«, malted milk, custard creams
  • yoghurt or fromage frais
  • spoonful of smooth nut butter, for example almond butter, peanut butter
  • a portion of cheese
  • a glass of milk.

It’s important to drink plenty of fluid each day to prevent dehydration. Try to drink at least 8 glasses of fluid a day.

This can include water, squash, juice, milk, tea and coffee. Always try to choose unsweetened drinks.

How and when should I reintroduce fibre to my diet?

This should be done slowly and with the advice of the dietitian looking after you. They’ll tell you when it’s safe to start eating more fibre.

When you’re allowed to relax your diet, start by introducing one food at a time.

About our patient information pages and leaflets

This patient advice is intended as general information only. We aim to make the information as up to date and accurate as possible, but please note that it is subject to change.

Always check specific advice on any concerns you may have with your doctor.

With acknowledgement to The Royal Surrey County NHS Foundation Trust Department of Nutrition and Dietetics for permission to reproduce this information.

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