Low-Fat, Low-Fiber Diet

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

Why may I need to follow a low-fat, low-fiber diet?

You may need to follow this diet if you recently had colon surgery. Eating a low-fat, low-fiber diet will help you avoid symptoms that you may have after surgery. These symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramps
  • Increase in bowel movements
  • Stress or tension on your abdominal area
  • Irritation in your bowel (colon)

Eating a low-fat diet may decrease the risk of colon and rectal cancers. It may also decrease the risk of heart disease.

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What foods can I eat on a low-fat, low-fiber diet?

Low-fat foods

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
  • Nonfat and low-fat milk and dairy products
  • Low-fat and nonfat salad dressings
  • Lean cuts of meat that have been trimmed of visible fat

You should not eat:

  • Gravies
  • Butter
  • Processed foods
  • High-fat meats, such as spare ribs and sausage
  • Poultry skin

You can find a full list of low-fat foods listed in the low-fat, low-fiber guidelines at the end of this resource.

Low-fiber foods

We recommend that you limit your fiber intake to 12 grams a day. Eat foods that are low in fiber, such as:

  • Canned fruits
  • Fresh fruits that have been peeled
  • and cooked (e.g., mango puree, poached pears  and apple butter)
  • Canned vegetables
  • Well cooked vegetables (e.g., carrots, string beans and asparagus tips)
  • Eggs

You should not eat:

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

You can find a full list of low-fiber foods in the low-fat, low-fiber guidelines at the end of this resource.

 

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Will I always have to follow a low-fat, low-fiber diet?

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

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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 food label. Food labels can help you compare the nutritional information in different foods. For example, compare label A (low-fat, low-fiber food) to label B (high-fat, high-fiber food).

 

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How can I make sure I’m following a low-fat, low-fiber diet?

Food labels list the amount of fiber and fat in 1 serving of that food, even though many food packages contain more than 1 serving. For example, label A contains 8 servings in the entire package. One serving contains 2.5 grams of total fat and 0 grams of fiber in 1 serving, which is 8 ounces. If you have 2 servings (16 ounces) of the drink shown on label A, you will have to multiply the amount of fat and the amount of fiber by 2.

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Low-Fat, Low-Fiber Diet Guidelines

Food Category Eat Do Not Eat

Fats

  • Low-fat or non-fat:
    • Margarine
    • Mayonnaise
    • Salad dressings
    • Creamy peanut butter
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Shortening
  • Lard
  • Fried foods
  • Fast foods
  • Commercially prepared foods, such as frozen foods and boxed macaroni and cheese
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Gravies
  • Creams
  • Sauces, such as hollandaise sauce and tarter sauce
  • Butter
  • Hydrogenated oils, such as palm oil, soybean oil, and corn oil
  • Crunchy peanut butter

Fruits

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

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, and sausage
  • Shellfish
  • 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
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Asparagus tips
  • White potatoes without skin
  • String beans
  • Iceberg lettuce (1 to 2 slices)
  • Tomato sauces

 

  • Raw vegetables
  • Fried vegetables
  • Vegetables with seeds or skins such as:
    • Bok Choy
    • Broccoli
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Cabbage
    • Cauliflower
    • Collard greens
    • Corn
    • Cucumbers
    • Eggplant
    • Kale
    • Mushrooms
    • Onions
    • Peas
    • Peppers
    • Pickles
    • Sauerkraut
    • Spinach
    • Squash
    • Yams

Soups

  • Reduced-fat bouillon or broth soups
  • 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 and Dairy Substitutes

  • Skim or 1% milk
  • Low-fat plain or flavored yogurts
  • Low-fat ice creams or puddings made with skim milk
  • Low-fat cheeses
  • Low-fat or nonfat cream cheese
  • Rice milk
  • Almond milk
  • Low-fat soy milk
  • Low-fat frozen yogurt
  • Whole or 2% milk
  • Full-fat yogurts
  • Berry yogurts
  • Full-fat ice cream
  • Custard
  • Milkshakes
  • Full-fat puddings
  • Full-fat 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 with nuts or dried fruit
  • Biscuits
  • Pastries
  • Donuts
  • Bakery items, such as croissants or scones
  • Popcorn
  • Snack chips, such as potato chips or corn chips

Cereals and Grains

  • Refined cereals, such as 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 (Jell-O®)
  • Dark chocolate (70% or greater) without dried fruits, nuts, and seeds
  • Hard candies
  • Marshmallows
  • Jellies or jams without seeds
  • Any dessert with nuts, seeds, coconut, or dried fruits
  • Rich desserts, such as pastries and pies
  • Milk chocolate
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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.
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

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

If you have any questions or concerns, talk with your dietitian or nurse. If you receive your care at MSK, you can reach a dietitian by calling 212-639-7311 while you’re in the hospital, or 212-639-7312 from outside the hospital.
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Low-Fat, Low-Fiber Diet
©2015 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - Generated on August 3, 2015