A low-fibre or low-residue diet may be prescribed (for around six weeks) immediately after bowel surgery, to rest the bowel and allow it to heal properly.
Fibre is only found in foods that come from plants and there are two types: insoluble and soluble fibre.
A low-fibre diet will reduce the amount of undigested material that passes through your bowel. A low-residue diet will also reduce the size of your stools. Reducing the size and frequency of your stools will help to minimise any abdominal pain, diarrhoea or inflammation of the bowel wall, particularly around the site of the operation.
As your digestive system returns to normal, you should be able to gradually add more fibre back into your diet. You should only stay on a low-fibre diet in the short term until your bowel heals. Always refer to the advice given by your dietitian. When you reintroduce fibre into your diet, start with small amounts of soluble fibre, and increase the amount as you are able. Good foods to try first are peeled apples and pears, and oats.
A low-residue diet is more restrictive than a low-fibre diet and, in addition to the guidance on this page, you should avoid caffeine, limit dairy produce to no more than two servings a day, and avoid raw fruits of any kind.
You can eat
You should avoid
Low-fibre vegetables that can be eaten raw
Low fibre vegetables that can be eaten if well cooked (no skin or seeds)
Vegetables to avoid
Low-fibre fruits that can be eaten raw or cooked (no skin)
Fruits to avoid
If you are on a low-residue diet you should avoid raw fruits of any kind.