As part of your treatment, you may have been advised to follow a low fibre diet. This might be while you are waiting for surgery, undergoing chemotherapy, to reduce the risk of your bowel becoming blocked or to improve symptoms such as pain or cramping. The information on this page is designed to help you follow a low fibre diet. You should only follow a low fibre diet if your medical team have advised you to do so.

What is fibre?

Dietary fibre is the part of fruit, vegetables and cereal products that pass through the body without being broken down and can help add bulk to our stool. The aim of a low fibre diet is to reduce the amount of undigested food that passes into our bowels, as large pieces of food that are not broken down may get stuck in a narrowed space.

Why do I need a low fibre diet?

You may have been advised to follow a low fibre diet in preparation for surgery or after the formation of an ileostomy.

You may also have been advised to follow a low fibre diet if your bowel is at risk of blockage.

A low fibre diet can slow the rate at which food passes through the gut and reduce the bulk of the stool. This can make it easier for the stool to pass through a narrowed section of the bowel. The diet may also reduce the risk of blockage and symptoms such as pain.

A low fibre diet still contains some fibre.

It is important that you drink enough fluid while following a low fibre diet to help prevent constipation. You should aim to drink 8 to 10 glasses (1.5 to 2 litres) of fluid each day – this can include fizzy drinks, squash, water, tea, coffee or smooth juices.

If you are having trouble opening your bowels, you should contact your consultant or nurse specialist.

How long do I need to follow a low fibre diet?

For many people, a low fibre diet will not need to be followed long term but this can vary. Your consultant or surgeon will be able to give you more information.

What foods are fibre free?

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, milk, smooth yoghurts, oils and butter do not contain fibre; these can be eaten normally.

It is best to eat in a regular pattern and spread foods out throughout the day, especially fruits and vegetables. You should try not to have too many fruits and vegetables during each meal.

If you are at risk of bowel obstruction, try not to eat or drink large amounts in one sitting – eating and drinking ‘little and often’ may help with your symptoms.

Choose Avoid
Fruit Choose any of the following when removing pips, skin, pith, seeds and peel:

Smooth fruit juice
Stewed fruit
Whole fruit including the pips, skin, pith, seeds and peel.

Passion fruit
Paw paw
Dried fruit including; raisins, apricots and prunes
Juices that contain pith, seeds, pips
Vegetables Well-cooked and peeled vegetables - avoid stalks, skins and seeds:

Sweet potato
Asparagus tips
Broccoli florets
Cauliflower florets
Skinless peppers
Tomato puree
Smooth hummus with no chickpeas or added vegetables
Brussel sprouts
Spring greens
Salad onions
Bean sprouts
Broccoli stalks
Cauliflower stalks
Pulses and beans including:
Kidney beans
Baked beans
Green beans
Bread and flour White varieties of:

Bread, pitta, crackers, wraps, chapatti, muffins, crumpets, bagels and flour
Rice cakes
Wholemeal, wholegrain, seeded, oatmeal and granary varieties of:

Bread, pitta, crackers, chapatti, muffins, crumpets, bagels and flour
Tea loaf and fruit bread
Cereals White cereals including:
Cornflakes®, Rice Krispies®, Sugar Puffs®, Special K®, Ready Brek®, Coco Pops®, Frosties®
Wholewheat or high fibre cereals including:
Muesli, Bran flakes®, Weetabix®, Cheerios®, Porridge, Shredded
Any cereals with added fruit or nuts
Pasta, rice, potatoes White varieties of pasta, rice and noodles
Potatoes without the skin, well boiled, mashed, roasted or jacket with the
skin avoided
Couscous (without added fruit/nuts)
Wholemeal or brown varieties of pasta, rice and noodles
Potatoes with the skins on (e.g. jacket potato, potato wedges)
Instant packet rice and pasta meals with added dried vegetables
Bulgar wheat and barley
Cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolate Plain cakes and scones made with white flour
Madeira, Victoria sponge filled with seedless jam or butter icing
Biscuits made with white flour (eg. shortbread, rich tea, and wafers)
Rice cakes
Chocolate: plain, milk, white, dark
Boiled sweets, toffee, fudge
Cakes and scones made with wholemeal flour
Cakes containing fruit, nuts, seeded jams and seeds
Items like flapjack, digestive biscuits, fruit shortcake, fruit scones
Chocolate or sweets containing fruit or nuts
Miscellaneous Seedless jams, jelly, honey, syrup, sugar, marmalade without peel, lemon curd, smooth peanut butter
Clear, cream of varieties of soups or soups made with low fibre vegetables
Jam with seeds
Marmalade with peel
Popcorn, Bombay mix, nuts and seeds
Pickle, relish, chutney
Unstrained soups
Soups containing high fibre vegetables

Re-introduction of fibre

Your consultant/dietitian will guide you on how and when to re-introduce fibre back into your diet.

It is recommended that you stay on a lower fibre diet for around 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

You should introduce fibre back into your diet gradually. You should be able to identify a level of fibre that you can manage. This will be different for everyone.

You will need to limit foods that you have not managed previously. When introducing new foods, include one new food at a time (in small portions). Only introduce new foods once you have identified that you can tolerate previously trialled foods.

It is important that you continue to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water, tea/coffee, squash or fizzy drinks a day while re-introducing fibre.

Below are some ideas on how to re-introduce fibre:

Below are some ideas on how to re-introduce fibre:
Week 1 Try replacing white bread with wholemeal bread
Week 2 Try a higher fibre breakfast cereal such as Weetabix® or Shredded Wheat® or super market’s own brand equivalent
Week 3 Try eating peeled fruit and vegetables from the ‘avoid’ list (no dried fruit)
Week 4 Try eating the skins on fruits and vegetables such as apples or potatoes
Week 5 If you are still symptom free, try including other foods from the ‘avoid’ list. This could include dried fruits

If any foods cause symptoms of discomfort, exclude it from your diet – it can be trialled again at a later date. You may find that you have to go backwards and forwards through the stages if you experience any pain or discomfort. Some people will tolerate fibre better than others.

Always contact your consultant, dietitian or nurse specialist if you are unsure or have any concerns.

Contact information

Colorectal Surgery Department

Orchard Centre, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Great Western Road, Gloucester GL1 3NN

The following telephone number are available between 8:00am and 4:00pm:

Miss Bennett’s secretary

Tel: 0300 422 5135

Mr Cook’s secretary

Tel: 0300 422 5615

Mr Scott’s secretary

Tel: 0300 422 5614

Mr Roe’s secretary

Tel: 0300 422 6683

Mr Cutting’s secretary

0300 422 5192

Department of Nutrition & Dietetics

Cheltenham General Hospital, Sandford Road, Cheltenham GL53 7AN

Tel: 0300 422 3460

Printable version of this page

Low fibre diet GHPI1728_11_23 Department: Cancer Services Review due: November 2026 PDF, 317.1 KB, 8 pages
Reference number GHPI1728_11_23
Department Cancer Services
Review due November 2026