Diet and Nutrition

What Is the Low Residue Diet, and Can It Benefit Those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

What Is the Low Residue Diet, and Can It Benefit Those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

What Is the Low Residue Diet, and Can It Benefit Those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

A low residue diet may be the answer to inflammatory bowel disease flare-ups, depending on symptoms. Low-residue food like white bread, white rice, cheese, and eggs could help stop constant bathroom breaks by lessening the frequency of bowel movements. 

But, a low residue diet doesn't mean inducing constipation of any kind. The intent is to slow down the digestive process by eating certain foods and avoiding others.

What does low-residue actually mean?

Let's go into a bit more detail on what low-residue really means. Residue is another term for fiber in the diet, so a low residue diet equates to a low fiber diet. The diet requires that the individual limit their intake of fiber to roughly less than 10-15 grams. Low residue diets contain starchy foods such as eggs, cheese, white bread, white rice, chicken, hot cereals, pancakes, milk and dairy, canned vegetables, butter, and oils.
Some foods may have unexpected added fiber, so it’s important to read the labels when shopping to be sure you stay under the 10-15 gram requirement. Foods that you should avoid include, but aren’t limited to, whole grains and bread, raw fruit, dried fruit, prune juice, raw vegetables, dried beans, seeds and nuts, popcorn, and coconut oils. Those foods contain high levels of fiber and would work against your diet goals.
The low-residue diet is not a weight-loss diet, in fact, it’s the complete opposite. Though you may gain some weight from bloating and slowed digestion, the diet isn’t a long term lifestyle change, so you won’t be maintaining the weight for long.
For people with IBD, this diet is sometimes recommended during flare-ups. This is because low residue is incredibly effective in slowing down digestion and lengthening the time between bowel movements.

Be sure to speak with your doctor before considering any dietary changes, especially if you live with IBD.

Who is this diet good for?

There is a small group of people that should be recommended for the low-residue diet for a short period of time, and these people include the following: bowel surgery patients during recovery, Crohn's disease sufferers and ulcerative colitis sufferers during a flare-up, and patient prepping for a colonoscopy. Patients who are recovering from bowel surgery need to allow their bowel to rest. After surgery, the bowel is swollen and tender; slowing the digestion process with give the bowel time to heal and cause less pain and discomfort for the patient.

Because bowel movements are usually an everyday occurrence for most, this diet will allow for a few days in between bowel movements, which can make an incredible difference in recovering patients. If you’ve ever watched a wound heal from day 1 to day 3, you can see how much healing can be done in that short amount of time. After the patient is healed, they will return to a normal, fiber rich diet slowly.

Read on to learn more about exactly when the low-residue diet is most beneficial, and how it can help those suffering from Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, especially during a flare-up.