This information describes a low-fat, low-fiber diet. This is a diet in which you eat less than 40 grams of fat and less than 12 grams of fiber per day.

Why Do I Need to Follow a Low-Fat Diet?

Eating a low-fat diet may decrease the risk of colon, rectal, prostate, and breast cancer. It may also decrease the risk of heart disease.

We recommend that you limit your fat intake to 40 grams a day. Eat foods that are low in fat, such as:

  • Food that is baked, broiled, or steamed
  • Non-fat and low-fat milk and dairy products
  • Low-fat and non-fat salad dressings
  • Lean cuts of meat that have been trimmed of visible fat

You should not eat

  • Gravies
  • Butter
  • Processed foods

Why Do I Need to Follow a Low-Fiber Diet?

The fiber in your food can:

  • Cause bloating, gas, and cramps
  • Put stress or tension on your abdominal area
  • Increase your bowel movements
  • Irritate your bowel (colon)

Eating a low-fiber diet after surgery will help you avoid these symptoms. We recommend that you limit your fiber intake to 12 grams a day. Fiber is found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Eat foods that are low in fiber, such as:

  • Canned fruits
  • Canned vegetables

You should not eat:

  • Fresh fruits
  • Nuts or seeds
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Legumes (e.g., chickpeas, lima beans, kidney beans, and lentils)
  • Whole grains
  • Skins, such as skin of poultry or potatoes

Will I Always Have to Follow a Low-Fiber Diet?

You will not always have to follow a low-fiber diet. Your doctor will tell you when you can start to increase the fiber in your diet. This is usually 3 to 4 weeks after your surgery.

Where Can I Learn More About the Fat and Fiber Content in My Food?

You can find the amount of fiber and fat that's in your food by looking at the label. A food label can also help you compare the nutritional information in different foods. The information listed on all food labels is based on the “serving size.” For example, compare label A (low-fat, low-fiber food) to label B (high-fat, high-fiber food).

Low-Fat, Low-Fiber Diet Guidelines

Food Category Eat Do Not Eat

Fats

Low-fat or non-fat:

  • Margarine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salad dressings
  • Cream cheese
  • Creamy peanut butter
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Shortening
  • Lard
  • Fried foods
  • Fast foods
  • Commercially prepared foods
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Gravies
  • Creams
  • Sauces
  • Butter
  • Hydrogenated oils (e.g., palm oil)
  • Crunchy peanut butter

Fruits

  • Canned fruits
  • Applesauce
  • Ripe bananas
  • Fruit cocktail
  • Fresh fruits that have been peeled
    and cooked
  • Raw or dried fruits, such as prunes, raisins, figs, and dates
  • All types of berries
  • Fresh fruits
  • Pineapples
  • Oranges
  • Apple peels

Meat and Meat Substitutes

  • Tender beef, pork, and lamb
  • Skinless poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Low-fat tofu

Note: All meat must be well cooked and trimmed of any visible fat.

  • Tough meats
  • Gristle
  • High-fat meats, such as spare ribs, shellfish, and sausage
  • Meat made with whole grains, seeds, or nuts
  • Veggie burgers
  • Poultry skin
  • Meat or fish packed in oil
  • High-fat tofu
  • Legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils

Vegetables

  • Well-cooked or canned vegetables without seeds or skins
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Asparagus tips
  • White potatoes without skin
  • String beans
  • Tomato sauce

Note: All vegetables must be well cooked.

  • Raw or fried vegetables
  • Vegetables with seeds or skins
  • Tomatoes with skin
  • Squash
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Sauerkraut
  • Bok choy
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Onions
  • Cucumbers
  • Pickles
  • Kale
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Yams
  • Collard greens
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms

Soups

  • Reduced-fat bouillon, broth, or soup made with allowed vegetables listed above
  • Cream-based soups

Beverages

  • Coffee (limit to 1 cup per day)
  • Tea (limit to 1 cup per day)
  • Fruit juices, such as apple, grape, or cranberry
  • Carbonated beverages, such as colas or club soda
  • Seltzer water
  • Prune juice

Dairy

  • Skim or 1% milk
  • Low-fat flavored yogurts
  • Low-fat ice creams or puddings made with skim milk
  • Low-fat cheeses
  • Whole or 2% milk
  • Full-fat yogurts
  • Berry yogurts
  • Full-fat ice cream
  • Custard
  • Milkshakes
  • Regular puddings
  • Regular cheeses

Breads

  • White bread or rolls without nuts, coconut, or dried fruits
  • Saltines
  • Oyster crackers
  • Graham crackers
  • Waffles
  • Pancakes
  • Low-fat muffins without nuts or dried fruits
  • Rice cakes
  • Animal crackers
  • Rye bread without seeds
  • Wheat bread
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Pumpernickel bread
  • Breads with nuts, seeds, coconut, or dried fruits
  • Wheat crackers
  • Crackers high in fat
  • Cornbread
  • Muffins
  • Biscuits
  • Pastries
  • Donuts
  • Bakery items
  • Popcorn
  • Snack chips

Cereals and Grains

  • Refined cereals, such as puffed wheat, puffed rice, corn flakes, Rice Krispies®, Special K®, and Total®
  • Oatmeal
  • Farina
  • Cream of Wheat®
  • Cream of Rice®
  • White rice
  • Grits
  • Regular pastas
  • Couscous
  • Wheat or bran cereals
  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Cereals with nuts, seeds, coconut, or dried fruits
  • Granola
  • Brown rice
  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • Wild rice
  • Kasha (buckwheat)

Desserts

  • Low-fat plain cakes and cookies
  • Sherbert
  • Fruit ice
  • Popsicles
  • Gelatin
  • Chocolate without dried fruits, nuts, and seeds
  • Hard candies
  • Marshmallows
  • Jellies or jams without seeds
  • Dark chocolate (70% or greater)
  • Any dessert with nuts, seeds, coconut, or dried fruits
  • Rich desserts, such as pastries and pies

Sample Menu

The sample menu below shows 6 small meals. Eating 4 to 6 small meals a day will help to reduce discomfort caused by gas or bloating. Eat slowly and chew your food well.

For patients with an ostomy, a separate resource called A Guide for Patients With an Ileostomy or Colostomy is also available.

Breakfast

Mid-morning snack

4 ounces of orange juice (without pulp)

¾ cup of puffed rice cereal

½ cup of skim milk

8-ounce cup of coffee or tea

1 slice of toasted white bread

1 teaspoon of margarine

Grape jelly

½ cup of canned peaches

Lunch

Mid-afternoon Snack

3 ounces of tuna fish (packed in water)

1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise

Seedless roll

½ cup of cooked string beans

Apple juice or water

½ cup of canned fruit cocktail

2 Graham crackers

Dinner

Evening Snack

4 ounces of chicken breast, broiled and skinless

½ cup of white rice

½ cup of cooked baby carrots

White bread or dinner roll without nuts, coconut, or dried fruits

½ cup of applesauce

1 cup of skim milk

4 ounces of low-fat, frozen yogurt

If you have any questions or concerns, talk with your dietitian or nurse. You can reach a dietitian by calling extension 7311 while you're in the hospital, or (212) 639-7312 from outside the hospital.