A low-residue diet limits nuts, whole-grains, raw and dried fruits, vegetables and other high-fiber foods. It is designed to reduce the size and frequency of bowel movements for people suffering medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, for some pre- and post-operative patients, and for those going through treatments such as chemotherapy.
Residue is fiber and other undigested foods that become stool. A low-residue diet helps ease stomach cramps, gas, bloating and diarrhea. Other foods to avoid on the diet include pickles, relish, sauerkraut, olives and horseradish.
Many grains are allowed, such as white rice, refined pasta, enriched white bread and cooked cereals, such as grits. Also on the diet are fresh and canned vegetables without seeds that are well-cooked, including squash, pumpkin and asparagus tips. Honeydew, soft cantaloupe and similar fruits are allowed after they are peeled and the seeds are removed.
Since animal products don’t include fiber, most are acceptable foods. Low-residue diets recommend avoiding cured deli meat and meat with gristle. Because low-residue diets rely heavily on processed foods and typically limit fruits and vegetables, staying on the diet for an extended period of time may result in low levels of potassium, calcium, vitamin C and folic acid.