Low Fiber Diet for Diarrhea

Author: Marisa Healy, BSN, RN
Content Contributor: Katrina VB. Claghorn, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.
Last Reviewed: June 09, 2022

The fiber in food gives you the roughage or bulk that helps your bowels move and push stool through. Most people should take in at least 25 grams of dietary fiber a day to make sure you have good bowel health. You can find the grams of fiber listed on the labels of the foods you eat. The biggest sources of fiber are:

  • Fruits.
  • Vegetables.
  • Whole grains
  • Dried beans.

If you have had radiation therapy or chemotherapy, you may have diarrhea as a side effect. Too much fiber in your diet will make diarrhea worse. If you have diarrhea, you should follow a low fiber diet. A low fiber diet means you only eat about 10 grams of fiber a day. A low fiber diet helps with diarrhea because it will not stimulate (rev up) your bowels as much and it will be easier to digest.

Food Group

High Fiber Foods to stay away from

Low Fiber Foods you can have

Fruits

Raw fruits

Dried fruits

Bananas

Applesauce

Canned fruits

Cooked fruits without skin or seeds

Fruit juices without pulp

Vegetables

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

Raw vegetables

Other vegetables that are not listed to stay away from, like:

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

Cornbread

Any bread with dried fruits or nuts

Bread products made with refined white flour
Pasta/noodles made with refined flour
White rice
White rice cakes
Graham crackers

Cereals

Whole grains

Bran

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

Nuts

Whole nuts and chunky nut butters

Smooth nut butters

Dried beans & legumes

Lentils, lima beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and black beans, etc.

Meat, poultry, fish and eggs

All allowed

Milk and milk products

Allowed unless lactose intolerant

Other

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

Marshmallows

Where do I find how much fiber is in the food I eat?

To find out how much fiber is in a serving of a food, use the food labels listed on the container. 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 (soaks up) fluid and can help lessen your diarrhea. Foods high in soluble fiber include:

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

Other foods that can lead to diarrhea

  • Fatty, greasy and fried foods.
  • Spicy and highly seasoned foods.
  • Milk and milk-based drinks.
  • Try not to chew gum or eat sugar-free candies and gums that contain sugar alcohols like sorbitol or mannitol.

Foods you should eat when you have diarrhea

Eat bland and easy-to-digest foods like 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 than eating 3 large meals.

Congee Soup – Chinese rice soup

¾ cup white or sushi rice
2 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt to taste
Combine rice and broth in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and half cover the pot. Cook at a slight boil. Stir every so often and scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent rice from sticking. Simmer 1 ½ to 2 hours. Cook until the grains burst and become thick – oatmeal consistency. Season with salt for taste. Can flavor as desired e.g. ginger, soy sauce or sesame oil.

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

Snack

Snack

Snack

1 slice white bread toast

1 tablespoon peanut

butter

1 tsp jelly

2 rice crackers

1 oz cheese

1/2 cup applesauce

1 cup vanilla yogurt

Nutrients

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

Talk with your care team about how to manage your diet and let them know right away if you have diarrhea.

References

American Cancer Society. (2020). Low-fiber foods. Retrieved from Low-Fiber Foods (cancer.org)

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). (2020). Diarrhea. Retrieved from Diarrhea | Cancer.Net.

Blogs

July 14, 2023

Feeding the Gut

by OncoLink Team


September 8, 2022

Self Destruction

by Rodney Warner, JD


July 19, 2022

Managing Side Effects with South Asian Foods

by OncoLink Team