Gastrointestinal Soft Diet Overview
What is a gastrointestinal soft diet?
This diet is soft in texture, low in fiber, and easy to digest. The goal is to decrease nausea, diarrhea, and gas in the bowel that may cause abdominal pain and discomfort. This diet is often used after abdominal surgery or as a transitional diet after gastroenteritis, diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel flares.
Meats & Meat Subsitutes
- Foods Allowed: Chicken, turkey, fish, tender cuts of beef and pork, ground meats, eggs, creamy nut butters, tofu, skinless hot dogs, sausage patties without whole spices
- Foods to Avoid for 4-6 Weeks: Tough, fibrous meats with gristle, meat with casings (hot dogs, sausage, kielbasa), lunch meats with whole spices, shellfish, beans, chunky peanut butter, nuts
Fruits and Juices
- Foods Allowed: Fruit juices without pulp, banana, avocado, applesauce, canned peaches and pears, cooked fruit without the skin/seeds
- Foods to Avoid for 4-6 Weeks: Juices with pulp, fresh fruit (except banana and avocado), dried fruits, canned fruit cocktail and pineapple, coconut, frozen/thawed berries
- Foods Allowed: Well-cooked or canned vegetables, potatoes without skin, tomato sauces, vegetable juice
- Foods to Avoid for 4-6 Weeks: Raw vegetables, all corn, all mushrooms, stewed tomatoes, potato skins, stir-fry vegetables, sauerkraut, pickles, olives, all dried beans, peas, and legumes
Cereals and Grains
- Foods Allowed: Low- fiber dry or cooked cereals (less than 2 grams fiber per serving), white rice, pasta, macaroni, or noodles
- Foods to Avoid for 4-6 Weeks: Cereals with nuts, berries, dried fruits, whole grain cereals, bran cereals, granola, brown or wild rice, whole grain pasta
Breads and Crackers
- Foods Allowed: White/refined breads and rolls, plain bagel, toast, plain crackers, graham crackers
- Foods to Avoid for 4-6 Weeks: Whole grain breads- including white whole grain; bread/ rolls with raisins, nuts or seeds, multi-grain crackers
- Foods Allowed: Milk, cheese, yogurt, milkshakes, pudding, ice cream, cottage cheese, sherbet ; lactose free or low lactose versions if lactose intolerant
- Foods to Avoid for 4-6 Weeks: Dairy product mixed with fresh fruit (except banana), berries, nuts or seeds
- Foods Allowed: Plain cake, pudding, custard, ice cream, sherbet, gelatin, fruit whips
- Foods to Avoid for 4-6 Weeks: Any dessert that contains nuts, dried fruits, coconut, or fruits with seeds
Herbs and Spices
- Foods Allowed: All ground spices or herbs, salt
- Foods to Avoid for 4-6 Weeks: Whole spices such as peppercorns, whole cloves, anise seeds, celery seeds, rosemary, caraway seeds, and fresh herbs
- Foods Allowed: Sugar, honey, jelly, mayonnaise, mustard, soy sauce, oil, butter, margarine, marshmallows, cookies without dried fruits or nuts, snack chips and pretzels using refined flours
- Foods to Avoid for 4-6 Weeks: Carbonated beverages, jams or jellies with seeds, popcorn
After several weeks, slowly start to reintroduce the “Foods to Avoid” back into your diet unless your doctor has told you otherwise. Try a small portion of one of these foods each day. If it does not bother you within 24 hours, it can be added to your diet. Continue to add new foods in this way.
Some people may continue to have food sensitivities and may need to continue to avoid certain foods. If you cannot tolerate a food, avoid that food for a few weeks before you try it again.
Guidelines when eating
- Avoid any food that you cannot tolerate or that causes gas, bloating, or stomach pain.
- Make time for your meals. Do not eat while you are in a hurry. Cut your food into small pieces. Chew each bite to a mashed potato consistency. Do not eat when you cannot concentrate on chewing well.
- Drink at least 6-8 cups of fluid per day. Fluids include: water, coffee, tea, juice, milk, popsicles, soups, gelatin, pudding, ice cream, sherbet, and yogurt. In addition, choose caffeine-free beverages more often, especially if you are having diarrhea or heartburn.
- A daily multivitamin may be recommended if diet is limited in amounts or variety of foods. Do not take any herbal supplements without first checking with your doctor.