Low-fiber diet do's and don'ts

By Mayo Clinic Staff


Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables and grains not digested by your body. A low-fiber diet limits these foods in the diet. As a result, there is less undigested material moving through the large intestine, and stools are less bulky.

A low-fiber diet may be recommended for a number of conditions or situations. It is sometimes called a restricted-fiber diet.


Reasons your health care provider may prescribe a low-fiber diet include:

  • You have narrowing of the bowel. This may be due to a tumor or an inflammatory disease, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • You have had bowel surgery.
  • You are having treatment that damages or irritates your digestive system. For example, radiation can cause irritation.

Low-fiber diets are usually temporary. You can usually start to add more fiber back into your diet after a short amount of time.

Diet details

A low-fiber diet limits the types of vegetables, fruits and grains that you can eat. Some of the foods that are allowed on a low-fiber diet include milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, fish and eggs. People who are lactose intolerant should avoid milk and dairy products if they cause stomach pain or diarrhea.

The ability to digest food varies from person to person. A health care provider may recommend a diet that is more or less limited depending on the reasons it is being used.

If you're eating a low-fiber diet, be sure to read food labels. Foods you might not expect can have added fiber. For example, yogurt, ice cream, cereal and even some drinks may have fiber. Look for foods that have no more than 1 to 2 grams of fiber in one serving.

Avoid these foods and products made with them:

  • Nuts, seeds, dried fruit and coconut.
  • Whole grains, popcorn, wheat germ and bran.
  • Brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, granola, shredded wheat, quinoa, bulgur and barley.
  • Dried beans, baked beans, lima beans, peas and lentils.
  • Chunky peanut butter.
  • Fruits and vegetables except those noted below.

Choose these foods:

  • Tender meat, fish and poultry, ham, bacon, shellfish, and lunch meat.
  • Eggs, tofu and creamy peanut butter.
  • Dairy products if tolerated.
  • White rice and pasta.
  • Baked goods made with refined wheat or rye flour, such as bread, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, bagels, saltines and graham crackers.
  • Hot and cold cereals that have less than 2 grams of dietary fiber in a single serving. Cereals made with rice cereals often have very little fiber.
  • Canned or well-cooked potatoes, carrots and green beans.
  • Plain tomato sauce.
  • Vegetable and fruit juices.
  • Bananas, melons, applesauce and canned peaches (no skin).
  • Butter, margarine, oils and salad dressings without seeds.

A typical menu might look like this:


  • Cornflakes with milk.
  • White toast, creamy peanut butter, jelly.
  • Fruit juice.
  • Coffee.

Midmorning snack

  • Yogurt without seeds.
  • Water or other beverage.

Noon meal

  • Turkey sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise.
  • Tomato soup.
  • Canned peaches.
  • Milk or other beverage.

Afternoon snack

  • Cheese slices.
  • Saltine crackers.
  • Water or other beverage.

Evening meal

  • Baked fish.
  • Mashed potatoes with butter.
  • Cooked carrots.
  • Applesauce.
  • Milk or other beverage.

Prepare all foods so that they're tender. Good cooking methods include simmering, poaching, stewing, steaming and braising. Baking or microwaving in a covered dish is another option.

You may have fewer bowel movements and smaller stools on a low-fiber diet. To avoid constipation, you may need to drink extra fluids. Drink plenty of water unless your health care provider tells you otherwise.


Eating a low-fiber diet will limit your bowel movements. It may help reduce diarrhea or other symptoms, such as stomach pain. After a short time, you may be able to slowly introduce fiber into your diet again.


Because a low-fiber diet limits what you can eat, it can be difficult to meet your nutritional needs. You should follow a low-fiber diet only as long as directed by your health care provider.

If you must continue eating this diet for a longer time, consult a registered dietitian. A dietitian can help make sure you are meeting all of your nutritional needs.

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May 24, 2023 See more In-depth