Everything You Need To Know About a Low Residue Diet

By | September 24, 2013

Our diets play a big part in our health. What we eat, how much and how regularly can impact on every aspect of our lives, so it’s important you know that you have the right diet for your particular health situation.

Losing weight is not necessarily the most important aspect of your diet, and a low residue diet can go a long way to alleviating many health problems you may suffer from. Here we discuss exactly what a low residue diet is and how it could help you.

low residue diet

What is the low residue diet?

Many people today suffer from a range of health issues that hinder their diet, with Crohn’s disease, stomach ulcers, irritable bowl syndrome and many more stomach issues limiting peoples dietary choices. The low residue diet has been developed by a team of professional dieticians in order to aid those struggling with digestive issues. The recommended foods of a low residue diet are easy to digest, limiting the impact digestion has on the stomachs of those suffering from those issues. For instance, high in fiber foods are restricted as they are more difficult for the body to digest. The goal is to allow an individual to consume a normal amount of food and get rid of waste easily.

The low-residue diet has several other names, including the soft foods diet, with several doctors recommending it as a transition from an all liquid diet to that of more solid foods. The diet is also used as a permanent solution to stomach issues, with users choosing to remain on a ‘soft-foods’ diet to prevent further issues with their digestive tract. The issues surrounding prolonged use of the low residue diet are addressed later in this article.

Who does this diet benefit?

Anyone who has suffered from regular digestive issues will know it involves a process of trial and error, removing, replacing and reintroducing aspects of the food group from their diet completely in order to determine what it is exactly that is causing them such digestive discomfort. Issues such as Crohn’s disease, IBS and IBD, can be alleviated through the introduction of a low-fiber diet. The concept is based on the idea that the process of fiber digestion requires your digestive system work harder than with non-fiber based foods, so removing it from your diet can ease the strain on your system.

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There are several groups of people who could benefit from a low-residue diet, including people undergoing surgery; operations on the abdomen or intestines as well as colonoscopies require a limited diet. The diet can make the process dramatically easier for both the patient and the doctor, with the option of reintroducing other, more high-residue foods back into the diet following the operation.

What foods are included?

The concept behind the low-residue dietary plan is to reduce the amount of fiber going into your digestive system, so foods that are already low in fiber but provide other essential nutrients are highly encouraged. We’ve composed a list of specific foods that you can consider including in your low-residue diet, as well as some that must be avoided to prevent further stomach issues.

 Limited dairy intake

We recommend: one or two servings per day at most
We’ve included all dairy products in this category, but if you experience further difficulties, you may need to reduce your dairy intake further. Items like milk, yogurt, and soft cheese, when consumed in limited quantities are all OK. However, dairy products with added ingredients such as cheese spreads, yogurt with fruit included and the like should be avoided; with the extra ingredients making the meal more difficult to digest.

Vegetables and Juices

As with fruits, many vegetable juices and a few raw vegetables are permitted. Vegetables that can be included in a low-residue diet are: squash, carrots, beets, spinach, pumpkin, asparagus, green beans, and eggplant, although the seeds of these vegetables should be avoided, as should other vegetables.

Fruits and Juices

Fruit juices without pulp or seeds are permitted, although those with additives are not. Certain fruits can be eaten raw, including watermelon, papaya, nectarines, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew, peaches, and plums. Other fruits should not be included.

Grains
When choosing grains, it’s important to look for foods processed using white flour. White bread, white pasta, and many cereals can be included in a low-residue diet, providing they are consumed in moderation. Bread and other products made with whole grains, including seeds and other ingredients should be avoided at all costs.

Meats and Poultry

While most meats, poultry, and seafood are an accepted branch of this nutritional therapy, fried foods are highly discouraged.

Other Foods

Certain desserts are acceptable, although cakes, cookies, and any sweets that are tough or include nuts should be avoided altogether. Fats such as butter, margarine, and oils are allowed.

Downsides to the low-residue diet

While doctors and nutritional therapists recommend the low-residue diet for helping those suffering from regular stomach-related illnesses, the majority does not recommend maintaining it as a regular, long-term diet plan. Due to the high level of mostly soft foods, it can be hugely beneficial to the digestive system when transitioning from a liquid diet to one that contains solid foods, but the low-residue diet can cause health problems further down the line if your body does not take in a healthy range of nutrients.

Doctors and nutritional experts have accepted that a limited range of food choices can be detrimental to your overall health. Your body needs a healthy balance of different nutrients in order to fully function, and as such it’ss recommended you discuss any major changes to your diet with a medical professional beforehand in order to ensure that it is safe. Be sure to re-introduce other foodstuffs into your system  following the recommended time period in order to prepare the body for a regular regime of balanced and varied nutrients.

Is it right for me?

Before embarking on any dietary alteration, it’s recommended you discuss the benefits and potential risks with a medical professional. Many people dealing with digestive issues can benefit from a low-residue diet when followed for a limited period of time, but it’s important that you maintain a good balance of nutrients in order to provide your body with the range of health benefits these nutrients provide.

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