Low-Fiber Diet: Foods to Eat and Avoid

A low fiber diet is also called a restricted-fiber diet and limits fiber intake.

A bowl of lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese is among your meal options in a low-fiber diet

Some adults require a diet that is high in fiber to maintain a healthy digestive system. However, most adults prefer to go on a low-fiber diet due to existing conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, or constipation. Since almost all grains, as well as some vegetables and fruits, are packed with fiber, it can be challenging to distinguish what to eat and what to avoid. This guide can help.

What Is a Low Fiber Diet?

It is also called a restricted-fiber diet. As entailed, it limits the amount of fiber consumed in a day. This should help ease the work done by the digestive system. Moreover, a diet that is low in fiber helps with the following:

  • Ease Diarrhea and Abdominal Pain
  • Reduce the Amount of Stool Produced
  • Reduce the Quantity of Undigested Food Travelling Through the Intestine and Bowel

A restricted-fiber diet limits the number of nutrients needed by the body. It is not meant for losing weight. Also, if not done correctly, then it may lead to aggravated symptoms.

Whom Is It Recommended For?

Doctors recommend this type of diet for individuals needing a colonoscopy. The diet must be followed for two to three days before the procedure — furthermore, other instances where a restricted-fiber diet is advised to include the following.

  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Constipation
  • Constricted Bowel Due to Tumor
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Diarrhea
  • Damage or Irritation in Digestive Tract
  • Diverticulitis
  • Problems with Digestion
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Recovery from Surgery Particularly for Procedures Done on Gastrointestinal Tract
  • Treatment Affecting Gastrointestinal Tract Such as Radiation
  • Ulcerative Colitis

Types of Fiber

Insoluble Fiber

This is also called bulk or roughage. It is the type of fiber that does not dissolve in water. Instead, this fiber holds onto water found in the lower bowel and creates a stool that is bulky and soft. Insoluble fiber aids in regular bowel movement and is also linked with a reduced possibility of getting colon cancer and colon polyps. Moreover, it aids in controlling diabetes and promoting weight loss. Food that is high in this type of fiber include:

  • Brown Rice
  • Popcorn
  • Peanuts
  • Whole Wheat Bread
  • Whole Grain Bread
  • Wheat Bran
  • Vegetables

Soluble Fiber

Unlike insoluble fiber, this type readily dissolves in water. It encourages the development of beneficial bacteria in the colon. Food rich in this type of fiber include:

  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Cereals
  • Cranberries
  • Oranges

Details of Diet

Depending on an individual’s tolerance and condition, the diet may be less or more restricted. Grains, fruits, and vegetables are limited. Milk and other dairy products may also be removed from the diet. While fiber is not found in milk, it may aggravate diarrhea and pain, especially for individuals who are lactose intolerant.

What to Eat

Fiber intake is limited to approximately 10 to 15 grams daily for both males and females. Take note of the following food items that can be consumed for a restricted-fiber diet.

Food Low in Fiber

  • Butter, Oil, and Margarine
  • Crackers
  • Canned Vegetables (Small Quantities)
  • Eggs
  • Gravy and Mayonnaise
  • Milk and Cheese
  • Pancakes and Waffles from Refined White Flour
  • Peanut Butter (Must Be Creamy and Not Include Whole Nuts)
  • Protein Sources Such as Fish, Tofu, and Chicken
  • Refined Hot or Cold Cereal (One Gram of Fiber Per Serving)
  • Seedless Salad Dressings
  • Sour Cream
  • Skinless Potatoes
  • White Rice, Bread, and Pasta
  • Yogurt, Ice Cream, and Pudding

Fruits Low in Fiber

  • Bananas
  • Canned Fruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Fruit Juice with No Pulp
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Nectarines
  • Papaya
  • Peach
  • Plum
  • Watermelon

Vegetables Low in Fiber

  • Asparagus Tips
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Pureed Spinach
  • Seedless Acorn Squash
  • Seedless or Skinless Vegetables (Canned or Well-Cooked)
  • Skinless White Potatoes
  • String Beans
  • Strained Vegetable Juice
  • Tomato Sauce

What to Avoid

For a diet that is low in fiber, other than the food mentioned below, alcohol, coffee, and tea should also be excluded. Spicy food should also be taken out of the diet as it may aggravate specific symptoms further.

  • Brown Rice
  • Coconut
  • Dried Lentils, Peas, and Beans
  • Dried Fruits
  • Popcorn
  • Prune Juice
  • Whole Grains (Quinoa, Barley, Kasha, Oats)
  • Whole-Grain or Whole-Wheat Bread, Pasta, and Cereals
  • Raw Fruit Like Berries
  • Raw Vegetables

Results

After consuming a diet that is low in fiber, bowel movements are limited. It also eases symptoms caused by intestinal disorders such as pain and diarrhea. A doctor may advise an individual as to when fiber may be reintroduced into the diet. Small amounts of fiber are reintroduced once recommended by the doctor.

Risks

A diet low in fiber lacks nutritional value. It should only be done upon the advice of a doctor or healthcare practitioner. It is also not advised as a long-term diet plan. For individuals who wish to continue this type of diet, then speak with a licensed dietitian to ensure that the daily recommended intake of nutrients is still met.

  1. Slow Down Digestion

Not having enough fiber in the diet makes it harder for the digestive system to work and eliminate waste.

  1. Leaves One Hungry

Fiber keeps the stomach feel full, and it also slows down digestion. Without fiber, one feels hungry even after a meal.

  1. Causes Weight Gain

With less fiber in the diet, one feels hungry all the time. This can lead to overeating and can cause an increase in weight.

  1. Causes Spike in Cholesterol Levels

The fiber in food helps carry out the plaque that clogs the arteries that leads to a low level of cholesterol. Without fiber, it boosts the levels of cholesterol in the body. A high level of cholesterol may lead to heart disease.

  1. Increases Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

With a spike in one’s cholesterol levels, it heightens the risk of getting heart diseases and a stroke. These are caused by plaque buildup in the arteries.

  1. Develops Diabetes

Low-fiber food usually ranks high on the glycemic index scale. This means it takes faster to turn into sugar and cause a spike in one’s blood glucose. Over time, this may lead to diabetes.

  1. Leaves One Lethargic

Aside from an increased risk for diabetes, a diet low in fiber can leave one feeling lethargic or always tired and sleepy.

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