What is the low residue diet?
“Residue” refers to fiber—it’s the undigested residue that bulks up your stool. (Here’s how you know if you’re eating enough fiber.) Essentially, you are limiting fiber in your diet, which is found in abundance in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. That said, a low residue diet is a little bit different than a low-fiber diet, says Jennifer L. Bonheur, MD, a gastroenterologist in New York, NY. Most low-fiber diets recommend limiting fiber to less than 10 to 15 grams of fiber per day; a low residue diet adds on additional restrictions, like limiting milk intake to two cups a day and excluding prune juice, she notes. This is not a weight loss diet, it’s a medically indicated diet that helps those with certain digestive diseases.
Who is it designed for?
A low residue diet may be critical for someone’s health if they’re recovering from bowel surgery. (Here are 8 foods to avoid if your digestive system is sensitive.) “The goal is less frequent bowel movements to give your bowel time to rest. Smaller and fewer is the goal during healing,” says Staci Small, RD, the owner of The Wellness Philosophy in Greenwood, IN. It may also be useful for someone who’s been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and is experiencing a flare. It may be used as a Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis diet.
A new way to prep pre-colonoscopy
Rather than sit and starve while you eat chicken broth and Jello before a colonoscopy (follow these prep tips from doctors), researchers found that people who ate low residue diet foods (eggs, white bread, cheese, white rice, and chicken) were less hungry and fatigued before the test than those on the standard “clear liquids” diet, according to a study in Advances in Nutrition. That’s important, as the authors note that one reason people avoid this crucial test is because the prep can be so awful. (You’d still have to drink the prep liquid though…) Ask your doctor if this is an option for you.