Low Fiber Diet for Diarrhea

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Katrina VB. Claghorn, MS, RD, LDN
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: April 1, 2007

The fiber in food provides the roughage or bulk that, in turn, stimulates the bowel. It is generally recommended that you consume at least 25 grams of dietary fiber a day to promote good bowel health. The major sources of dietary fiber are fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dried beans.

However, a common side effect of radiation treatment and many chemotherapy drugs is diarrhea. If you experience treatment-related diarrhea you should follow a low fiber diet and limit your intake of dietary fiber to about 10 grams a day. A low fiber diet is better tolerated with diarrhea because it will not stimulate the bowel as much and it will be easier to digest.

Food Group

High Fiber Foods to AVOID

Low Fiber Foods ALLOWED


Raw fruits
Dried fruits

Canned fruits
Cooked fruits without skin or seeds
Fruit juices without pulp


Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, peas, peppers, radishes, and spinach

Raw vegetables

Vegetables not on avoid list. Best tolerated: asparagus, green beans and summer squash

Peel, seed and cook vegetables until they are soft

Breads & pastas

Whole wheat and whole grains Brown rice
Cracked wheat and tabouli
Any bread with dried fruits or nuts

Bread products made with refined white flour
Choose products that have less than 2 grams of fiber per serving
Pasta/noodles make with refined flour
White rice
White rice cakes
Graham crackers

Food Group

High Fiber Foods to AVOID

Low Fiber Foods ALLOWED


Whole grains
Shredded wheat
Granola and muesli
Any cereal with dried fruits or nuts

Cold cereals - Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, Cheerios, Special K, Golden Grahams, Rice and Corn Chex

Hot cereals - Oatmeal, Cream of Rice, Cream of Wheat, Farina and Grits

Choose cereals that have less than 2 grams of fiber per serving


Whole nuts and chunky nut butters

Smooth nut butters

Dried beans & legumes

Lentils, lima beans, chick peas, kidney beans and black beans, etc.


Meat, poultry, fish and eggs


All allowed

Milk and milk products


Allowed unless lactose intolerant


Any foods that contain corn (including popcorn and tortilla chips), seeds, nuts, coconut or dried fruit


Food labels list grams of fiber

To find out how much fiber is in a serving of a food use food labels. Look for “Dietary Fiber” in the list of nutrients. Choose foods that have 2 grams or less of dietary fiber per serving.

Soluble fiber

Soluble fiber is a type of fiber found in some foods. Soluble fiber absorbs fluid and can help relieve diarrhea. Foods high in soluble fiber include:

  • Fruits : Applesauce, bananas (ripe), canned fruit, orange and grapefruit sections
  • Vegetables : Boiled potatoes
  • Breads & pastas : White rice and products made with white flour
  • Cereals : Oatmeal, cream of rice, cream of wheat and farina

Other foods that can contribute to diarrhea

  • Fatty, greasy and fried foods
  • Spicy and highly seasoned foods
  • Caffeinated foods and beverages e.g. coffee, tea and chocolate
  • Milk and milk based drinks
  • Avoid chewing gum, as well as sugar free candies and gums that contain sugar alcohols such as sorbitol or mannitol

Foods best tolerated when diarrhea is severe

Eat bland and easy to digest foods such as chicken, fish, eggs, puddings, mashed potatoes, noodles, rice, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream of wheat, farina, smooth peanut butter, white bread, bananas, applesauce, canned fruit and well cooked vegetables. Eating 5 to 6 small meals/snacks throughout the day is often better tolerated than eating 3 large meals.

Sample menu

This is a sample meal plan to follow if you have diarrhea. It is low in dietary fiber and high in soluble fiber.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
6 oz orange juice (no pulp)
1 cup Rice Krispies cereal
1 cup 2% milk
1 medium banana
Decaffeinated coffee
1 cup chicken rice soup
3 oz sliced turkey breast
2 slices white bread
1 tsp mayonnaise
4 oz salmon
1/2 cup white rice
1/2 cup asparagus
1 dinner roll
1 tsp butter
1/2 cup fruit sorbet




1 slice white bread toast
1 tablespoon peanut
1 tsp jelly
2 rice crackers
1 oz cheese
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup vanilla yogurt


  • Calories 1946
  • Protein 101 gm
  • Fat 54 gm
  • Dietary fiber 10 gm


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