scroll to top of page

GI Diets

Celiac/Gluten Free

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder affecting the small intestine. This can result in decreased absorption of nutrients from food. The problem is celiac patients develop a reaction when they eat food with gluten. Gluten is a protein in breads. Wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats have gluten.

The avoidance of gluten is critical. Even a small amount of gluten can continue the damage to the small intestine.

 Please review the following websites for guidance on a gluten free diet:

Clear Liquid  

A clear liquid is food that is clear (you can see through) and liquide at room temperature. Clear liquids are easily digested. Examples include:

 Beverages (drinks):

  • Clear juices (such as apple, cranberry, or grape)
  • Mild tea, without cream or milk
  • Mineral or plain water
  • Clear soft drinks like ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, or club soda
  • Clear sports drinks


  • Clear broth


  • Plain popsicles. Avoid popsicles with pureed fruit or fiber
  • Hard candy
  • Flavored gelatin, such as Jell-O® without fruit

Any liquid that you can see through can be considered a clear liquid.

Colon Polyp Prevention 

What you eat does impact your health. In general, the following guidelines can be recommended to potentially reduce colon polyps or colon cancer:

  • Limit food with high content of saturated fats. Red meat and processed foods should be limited. Avoid fried foods. Eat more fish, salmon, and nuts instead.
  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. At least 6 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables should be eaten each day.
  • Fiber is important. High fiber foods such as whole grain breads, high fiber cereal, and oatmeal are healthy foods to potentially reduce the formation of colon polyps.
  • Getting calcium into you diet is important as well. Milk and other dairy products are good sources of calcium.  


Dietary modifications for diverticulosis should be focused on improving or avoiding constipation. In general, eating a higher fiber diet will be beneficial.

  • Replace your white bread, rice and pasta with whole wheat ones.
  • Substitute beans, including soy beans, peas and lentils for meat.
  • Consume cereal with more than five grams of fiber per serving.
  • Eat several servings of fruit each day.
  • Have vegetables with your meals and snacks.
  • Increase your fiber intake slowly.
  • Drink fluid along with the high fiber foods.

Note: Newer scientific evidence is questioning whether seeds or nuts should really be avoided for patients with diverticulosis. For now, general advice is that seeds and nuts are OK to eat in moderation. It is still advised to avoid popcorn if you have diverticulosis. 

Full Liquid

A full liquid diet is a step up from clear liquids on the way to a regular diet. Full liquids can be any food which is liquid at room temperature. The liquid can be creamy. Full liquids are easier to digest than solid food and offer more nutrition than a clear liquid diet.


  • Water
  • Fruit juices, including nectars and juices
  • Cream, custard, and pudding
  • Ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sherbet
  • Fruit ices and popsicles
  • Sugar, honey, and syrups
  • Soups (creamy soup is ok if no solids)
  • Sodas, such as ginger ale and Sprite
  • Gelatin (Jell-O)
  • Boost, Ensure, Resource, Sustacal. and other liquid supplements
  • Tea or coffee with cream or milk and sugar or honey

For more information, see this full liquid diet

Gas Reduction  

Gas in the digestive tract—the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine—comes from two sources:

  • swallowed air
  • normal breakdown of certain undigested foods by normal bacteria

To minimize the amount of intestinal gas, you can reduce the intake of gas forming foods like beans, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, onions, milk and milk products.

Here is more information on intestinal gas. 


Gastroparesis is a medical condition where the stomach is slow to empty. A number of conditions, such as diabetes, can cause gastroparesis. Symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, and a sensation of being full. Typical diet recommendations include eating more frequent but smaller meals, avoiding high fat foods, minimizing fiber, and drinking more liquids.

See this gastroparesis diet from the University of Virginia for excellent dietary advice. 

High Fiber

A high-fiber diet can be useful for a number of digestive issues including constipation. Fiber is normally found in beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits. The typical American diet is low in fiber content.

Most dietary fiber is not digested. It stays within the intestine where it affects the consistency of stool. There are two types of fiber, each of which is thought to have its own benefits:

  • Soluble fiber is made of carbohydrates and dissolves in water. Examples include fruits, oats, barley, peas, and beans).
  • Insoluble fiber do not dissolve in water. Examples include wheat, rye, and grains. The traditional fiber – wheat bran – is a type of insoluble fiber.

It is recommended to have 6 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables, and choosing 5 to 10 servings of whole grain breads, cereals, rice and pasta each day. When you increase fiber, do it slowly and drink more water to avoid any constipation.

Here are examples of high fiber recipes.

Eating high fiber foods or adding a fiber supplement to your diet can improve your digestive function. Conditions like constipation, irregular bowel movements, and hemorrhoids may be improved with fiber. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Eating certain types of processed sugars can lead to digestive problems for some people. These FODMAP sugars (fermentable – oligo – di -mono saccharides) can be irritating to irritable bowel syndrome patients.

Lactose Free

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in mild and dairy products. Lactase in the enzyme that breaks down lactose. Without enough lactase, patients can get abdominal bloating and cramps, gas, or diarrhea after eating.

Avoiding foods with lactose or taking a lactase supplement with food is helpful to reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Foods with high lactose content include milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. Some milk or ice creams are “Lactose Free.” Please read the labels carefully on food.

An alternative to avoidance is eating small amounts or taking a Lactase supplement with food. Over the counter enzyme supplements containing lactase are helpful. They usually are labeled a dairy easing supplement.  

Low Fat

The amount of fat in the diet can be important to your digestion. Even modest reduction in dietary fat can have a significant improvement in your digestive and overall health.

Watch all fats, not just cholesterol.

Cholesterol is not the only important thing to consider. The total fat content is important, particularly saturated fats, in addition to cholesterol.

  • Saturated fats are found in high quantities in foods of animal origin. These are converted to cholesterol by the liver. Limiting saturated fat is wise.
  • “Polyunsaturated” fats are generally from non-meat sources, and are better for you. However, these fats can lower the level of your “good cholesterol.”
  • “Monounsaturated” fats can lower the bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol.

Foods with saturated fats are often high in cholesterol. Foods that are low in cholesterol can be high in saturated fats, and therefore the label of “No Cholesterol” does not mean the food is healthy. Try to avoid food high in cholesterol and high in saturated fats.

Here is more information regarding a low fat diet.