A low-residue diet is a diet designed to reduce the frequency and volume of stools while prolonging intestinal transit time.

This diet is similar to a low-fiber diet, but typically includes restrictions on foods that increase bowel activity.

“Residue” refers to undigested food, including fiber, which makes up stool. The goal of the diet is to have fewer, smaller bowel movements each day which will ease symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, gas and stomach cramping.

Remember, this is not a healthy way to eat for a long time because it skips many important nutrients.

If you need to stay on this diet, talk with your doctor and a registered dietitian to make sure you are consuming all the nutrients you need.

On a low-residue diet, you can eat:

Grains: Refined or enriched white breads and plain crackers (no seeds), cooked cereals, like farina, cream of wheat, and grits, cold cereals, like puffed rice and corn flakes and white rice, noodles and refined pasta.

Fruits: Ripe bananas, soft cantaloupe, honeydew melon, canned/cooked fruits without seeds, applesauce and avocado.

Vegetables: Vegetables or canned vegetables without seeds, such as asparagus tips, beets, green beans, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, squash (no seeds), pumpkin, cooked potatoes without skin and tomato sauce (no seeds).

Milk and Dairy: Milk products are acceptable in moderation. Milk has no fiber, but it may trigger symptoms like diarrhea and cramping if you have lactose intolerance, which means your body cannot process dairy. You could use lactase supplements or eat lactose-free products.

Meats: Animal products do not have fiber. You can eat beef, lamb, chicken, fish (no bones) and pork, as long as they are lean, tender and soft. Eggs are also a great source of protein.

Fats, Sauces, and Condiments: Margarine, butter, oil, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, sour cream, smooth sauces, salad dressing, soy sauce, seedless jelly, honey and syrup are all on this diet.

Sweets and Snacks: You can satisfy your sweet tooth on a low-residue diet. Desserts and snacks OK to consume in moderation include plain cakes, cookies, gelatin, plain puddings, custard, sherbet, ice cream, ice pops, hard candy and vanilla wafers.

Drinks: “Safe” beverages include decaffeinated coffee, tea, and carbonated beverages (caffeine can upset your stomach); juices made without seeds or pulp, like apple, no-pulp orange, cranberry and strained vegetable juices.

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at carey.stites@smchh.org.

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