Some types of cancer and cancer treatments may cause stomach discomfort and diarrhea. Your doctor may recommend that you follow a fiber-restricted diet (also referred to as low-residue or low-fiber). A fiber-restricted diet reduces the amount and frequency of bowel movements, therefore reducing irritation to your digestive tract. Your healthcare team may also recommend a fiber-restricted diet if you have a colostomy or ileostomy, or recent intestinal surgery.

Suggestions for a fiber-restricted diet are listed below. When reading nutrition labels on packaged foods, look for foods that contain fewer than 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Ask for a referral to a registered dietitian (RD) to help you find out how much fiber you should be consuming.

Avoid:

  • Raw, undercooked fruits and vegetables
  • Fruits and vegetables with seeds, skins, or hulls
  • Cooked greens or spinach
  • Peas and corn
  • Berries
  • Dried fruits
  • Juices with pulp
  • Prune juice
  • Tough meats with gristle
  • Fried meat, poultry, or fish
  • Sushi
  • Dried beans, peas, or lentils
  • Sausage, bacon, or hot dogs
  • Chunky nut butters
  • Whole grains such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, barley, oatmeal, and popcorn

You may also want to avoid these gas-forming vegetables: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, lima beans, mushrooms, okra, onions, parsnips, peppers, and potato skins.

Eat:

  • Canned or well-cooked fruits and vegetables
  • Low-fat milk (if lactose intolerant, choose lactose-free)*
  • Yogurt without added granola, fruit, nuts, or seeds*
  • Soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk*
  • Sherbet*
  • Tender, well-cooked meat, poultry, pork, or fish
  • Eggs
  • Smooth nut butters
  • Tofu
  • White bread, pasta, or rice
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Grits
  • Cold and hot cereals made from refined white flour
  • Pancakes and waffles made with refined white flour
  • Oils, butter, cream cheese, margarine, mayonnaise

*Although milk does not contain fiber, it can leave indigestible food in your intestines, leading to diarrhea and discomfort. If you can tolerate milk, limit milk products to no more than 2 cups per day. If you are lactose intolerant, try using lactose-free products.

What about dessert?

Choose desserts without whole grains, seeds, nuts, raisins, or coconut. Desserts can be high in sugar, which can cause diarrhea to worsen. Limit yourself to small portions of these treats. Some examples include sugar cookies, popsicles, angel food cake, Italian ice, and gelatin.

Below are three sample meal plans for following a fiber-restricted diet (each with about 2,000 calories). For a meal plan to meet your specific needs and food habits, ask your healthcare team for a referral to an RD who works with cancer survivors. If you struggle with your food choices or don’t have enough energy, an RD can help you develop a healthy meal plan.

Fiber-Restricted Sample Menu: Day 1

Meal Suggested Items Notes
Breakfast

Fiber 2 grams

1 scrambled egg with
1 oz. mild cheddar cheese
2 slices white toast with 2 tsp. butter and 2 tsp. grape jelly
4 oz. cranberry juice
8 oz. tea
Look for bread with fewer than 2 grams dietary fiber per serving. Use jelly instead of jam or preserves.

Try decaffeinated beverages.

Morning Snack

Fiber 1 gram

6 saltine crackers
1 Tbsp. peanut butter
8 oz. water
Use smooth instead of crunchy nut butters.
Lunch

Fiber 6 grams

grilled chicken sandwich with 3 oz. grilled chicken, 1 oz. Swiss cheese
1 tsp. mustard, and 1 hamburger bun
1 cup chicken and rice soup
1/2 cup well-cooked zucchini
1/2 cup canned pears
8 oz. water
If lactose intolerant, look for lactose-free cheese. Use buns made with white flour and no sesame seeds or berries.

Eat well-cooked vegetables without seeds or peels.

Afternoon Snack

Fiber 2 grams

1 small bagel
1 Tbsp. cream cheese
8 oz. herbal tea
Choose plain bagels without fruit or nuts.
Dinner

Fiber 3 grams

4 oz. baked salmon
1/2 cup well-cooked green beans
3/4 cup Ginger Rice*
white dinner roll with 1 tsp. butter
8 oz. iced tea
Remove strings from green beans. Healthy people need 8-10 glasses of fluid daily. If you have diarrhea, you may need more fluid.
Bedtime Snack 6 oz. sorbet
8 oz. water
Use sorbet without fruits.

Fiber-Restricted Sample Menu: Day 2

Meal Suggested Items Notes
Breakfast

Fiber 5 grams

1 cup puffed rice cereal with 4 oz. low-fat milk
1/2 English muffin with 1 Tbsp. smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup cottage cheese with 1/2 cup canned peaches
8 oz. coffee
Use grains made from refined, white flour. If lactose intolerant, look for a lactose-free milk, like soy or almond milk.

Choose canned fruit without peels.

Morning Snack

Fiber 1 gram

6 vanilla wafers with
1 Tbsp. almond butter
8 oz. strained lemonade
Lunch

Fiber 5 grams

one 3.5 inch x 3 inch slice meat lasagna
1 small piece French bread
1 tsp. butter
1/2 cup applesauce
8 oz. iced tea
For lasagna, use sauce made from peeled, seedless tomatoes. Try a ripe banana, baked peeled apples, or melon in place of applesauce.
Afternoon Snack 6 oz. yogurt
8 oz. water
Use creamy yogurt with live and active cultures and without berries and nuts.
Dinner

Fiber 3 grams

3 oz. pork loin
1/2 cup glazed carrots
1/2 cup mashed potatoes, no skins
1 small dinner roll
1 tsp. butter
4 oz. apple juice
8 oz. water
Choose meats that are tender and well-cooked but not fried. For variety, try vegetable juice that is strained with no pulp.
Bedtime Snack 2 small sugar cookies
8 oz. herbal tea
Try an assortment of plain cookies without nuts or fruit.

Fiber-Restricted Sample Menu: Day 3

Meal Suggested Items Notes
Breakfast

Fiber 3 grams

2 slices French toast
1 tsp. butter
8 oz. low fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup canned mandarin oranges
8 oz. herbal tea
You may also use white bread in place of French toast.
Morning Snack

Fiber 1 gram

2 squares graham crackers with 2 Tbsp. cream cheese and 1 Tbsp. jelly
8 oz. water
Use jelly instead of jam or preserves.
Lunch

Fiber 4 grams

tuna salad sandwich made with ½ cup tuna mixed with 2 Tbsp. light mayo on 2 slices white bread
1 oz. pretzels
1 cup canned pineapple
8 oz. water
You may use salmon in place of tuna.Try canned fruits packed in water.
Afternoon Snack hard boiled egg
1 oz. mozzarella cheese
8 oz. water
Egg, tofu, and cheese are quick protein sources.
Dinner

Fiber 7 grams

3 oz. Lemony Honey Glazed Roasted Chicken*
1/2 cup canned yams, mashed
1 cup well-cooked green beans
1 small dinner roll
1 tsp. butter
8 oz. iced tea
Peel potatoes or vegetables before cooking.
Bedtime Snack

Fiber 1 gram

2 medium gingersnap cookies
8 oz. herbal tea
Drink caffeine-free beverages in the evening for better sleep.

* Denotes a PearlPoint recipe