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How to Add Colour, Flavour, and Nutrition to Your Low Residue Diet

Carrots, parsnips, beetroots, onions and garlic on a grey surface

Understanding the Low Residue Diet

A low residue or low fibre diet can be recommended for various reasons, such as recovering from bowel surgery or preventing bowel obstruction, especially if there's a narrowing in the bowel. This diet focuses on limiting high-fibre foods to reduce the volume and frequency of stools, giving your bowel a rest, and helping to ease digestion and reduce discomfort.


Benefits, Considerations, and Special Cases

A low residue diet can be beneficial in the short term but it is generally not intended for long-term use for most people. Eating this way for an extended period can mean you miss out on important vitamins, minerals, and fibre that your body needs.


However, there are special circumstances where some people may need to follow a low residue diet for longer periods to help manage specific symptoms.


It is essential to talk with your healthcare team about your individual needs and goals.


If you're on a low residue diet, whether it's for a short time or longer, it is important to consult with a dietitian or nutritionist experienced in supporting people with cancer. They can provide personalised advice to ensure your nutritional needs are met while you're on the diet. Additionally, they will be there to support you every step of the way in gradually reintroducing foods and building back up to a more balanced diet when appropriate.


Adding Colour and Variety to Your Low Residue Diet

Many of my clients have shared that they find the transition to what initially feels like a predominantly 'white' or 'beige' diet very challenging. This shift often means focusing on foods like white bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, and refined cereals, which can feel limited compared to their usual health-conscious choices that include a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables. The good news is that there are plenty of creative ways to reintroduce colour, flavour, and variety into your meals and snacks while still adhering to a low residue diet!


Important Note: Always follow the dietary guidelines and recommendations provided by your healthcare team. If any of the suggestions below differ from the information or advice you have been given, prioritise the guidance you have received from your healthcare providers.

Ten Creative Ways to Add Colour and Flavour to Your Low Residue Diet

  1. Passata (sieved tomatoes): Can be used to replace tomatoes in recipes. Use as a base ingredient for any pasta sauce. It's perfect for soups, stews, and casseroles.

  2. Root vegetable mash: Combine root vegetables such as sweet potato, carrot, turnip, swede, and parsnip to create flavourful and nutritious mashes. One of my personal favourites is carrot and swede. Try adding a touch of butter or olive oil and a sprinkle of nutmeg! Feel free to experiment with different combinations!

  3. Sweet potato hash browns: Check out this recipe for tasty and easy-to-make sweet potato hash browns.

  4. Pastes like olive tapenade, sundried tomato, miso, and anchovy: Can be added to soups and stews to enhance their flavour. These versatile pastes can also add depth to pasta sauces, marinades, and spreads for sandwiches.

  5. Well-cooked broccoli and cauliflower florets (no stalks)

  • Cauliflower cheese

  • Replace some pasta in dishes with broccoli e.g. macaroni cheese

  • Add broccoli or cauliflower to soups

  • Try broccoli or cauliflower rice How to make broccoli or cauliflower rice:

1. Steam or boil the broccoli or cauliflower florets until they are tender. Allow them to cool slightly before proceeding to the next step.

2. Use a food processor or a box grater to grate the cooked florets into rice-sized pieces. Alternatively, finely chop them with a knife.

3. Use the broccoli or cauliflower rice in your favourite recipes. You can stir-fry it, or even make pilafs and risottos.

Cauliflower cheese in a white casserole dish

6. Melon (no seeds and no skin)

  • Melon skewer: Thread melon chunks onto skewers and serve with smooth yoghurt for dipping.

  • Watermelon and feta salad: Diced watermelon with crumbled feta cheese

  • Melon smoothie: Blend melon with yoghurt and a splash of your preferred milk for a refreshing smoothie.

  • Melon sorbet: Freeze blended melon with a dash of lemon or lime juice for a simple and refreshing dessert.

  • Watermelon slice: Enjoy a slice of fresh or frozen watermelon.


7. Banana 'nice' cream

1. Place sliced ripe bananas in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for at least 2-3 hours or until solid.

2. Once the bananas are frozen, transfer them to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. You may need to pause and stir the bananas a few times to ensure even blending.

3. Enjoy your homemade ‘soft serve’ banana ‘nice’ cream!

8. Roasted peach, nectarine, or plums (no skin)

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C.

2. Place the halved and pitted fruit cut-side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If desired, sprinkle with cinnamon.

3. Roast the fruit in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the fruit is tender and slightly caramelised.

4. Allow the roasted fruit to cool slightly after removing from the oven. Once cooled, gently peel away the skin.

5. Place the fruit on a serving plate or bowl and serve with a dollop of mascarpone, Greek yoghurt, custard, or rice pudding.


9. Super simple beetroot hummus


  • 1 cup peeled and cooked beetroot, diced

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons smooth tahini (start with 1 tablespoon and adjust to taste)

  • Juice of ¼ to ½ lemon (start with less and adjust to taste)

  • Optional: - Salt to taste - Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil for drizzling


  • In a blender or food processor, combine the diced cooked beetroot, tahini, and lemon juice.

  • Blend until smooth, adding a little water if needed to reach your desired consistency.

  • Season with salt to taste.

  • Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil.

10. Infused Olive Oil

Enhance your meals by infusing cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil with herbs, spices, or citrus zest. This simple trick not only adds a tasty twist to your dishes but also provides them with extra nutrients.

Try these infusion ideas:

  • Garlic

  • Chilli

  • Rosemary

  • Basil

  • Lemon or orange zest

Why is olive oil good for you?

  • Anti-inflammatory properties: The polyphenols in olive oil have been studied for their anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation in the body.

  • Antioxidant benefits: Olive oil is packed with antioxidants like vitamin E and polyphenols, which help combat harmful free radicals in your body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells. Antioxidants help neutralise these free radicals, promoting overall health and well-being.

  • Gut health support: Emerging studies suggests that the polyphenols in olive oil may function similarly to prebiotics, supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Additionally, the healthy fats in olive oil can help your body absorb important fat-soluble vitamins, promoting overall digestive health. While these benefits are promising, we still need to learn more about how olive oil affects digestive health.


Start slowly and listen to your body:

Start with a small amount of infused olive oil and see how it feels for you. Everyone's tolerance to fats can vary, especially if you've had bowel surgery or other digestive issues. Always consult with your healthcare team about what's best for your individual needs and before making significant changes to your diet.


Additional Considerations and Personalised Guidance

While these ideas can help add variety and nutrition to your low residue diet, it is essential to address the broader aspects of your nutritional needs and health. A specialist dietitian or nutritionist can provide personalised guidance on fluid intake, ensuring nutritional needs are met, and supporting optimal body weight, including maintaining or gaining lean body mass. It is also important to consider bowel regularity and function, which can be helped by dietary adjustments and guidance.

The length of time you should stay on the low residue diet and how quickly you can reintroduce higher fibre foods will depend on your medical situation. Your clinical team will provide guidance on this.

I hope you have found some of these ideas helpful. We have only just scratched the surface! If you or a loved one is looking for menu ideas, inspiration, and support while navigating a low residue diet, please don't hesitate to get in touch to arrange a consultation. I am here to help you make the most of your diet and feel confident and inspired along the way.


Telephone: 020 8064 2865

Appointments: book here


DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this blog is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your healthcare team or a qualified healthcare professional for personalised advice and guidance regarding your specific medical condition or dietary needs.


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