Snacks for Partial Bowel Obstructions

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Q: My wife's advanced ovarian cancer (with partial bowel obstruction) has created the need for high-protein, no-fiber snacks. Suggestions?

JJH, Shoreview, Minnesota 

A: A partial bowel obstruction is fairly common in those with ovarian cancer and means that part of the intestines are blocked, thus reducing the amount of digested food and gas that can pass through the system. When this happens, it is best to eat small frequent meals and to avoid foods that result in gas and bulk in the intestines. This means that avoiding fiber-rich foods such as whole grains and raw fruits and vegetables is essential for a patient's comfort and proper bowel function. The amount of fiber restriction depends on the severity of the obstruction. It is important to try to continue to eat fruits and vegetables. However, they must be low fiber/low residue, which typically means they should be cooked, canned, and/or free of skins and seeds. Pair the choices below for a well-balanced snack.

Some examples of high-protein, low-fiber snacks appropriate for most partial bowel obstructions:

  • Yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt
  • Cheese with white bread or crackers
  • Smooth nut butter with white bread or crackers
  • Smoothies made with pulp-free fruit juice, yogurt, and whey protein powder
  • Drinkable yogurt
  • A hard-boiled egg
  • Smooth oatmeal or cream of wheat made with milk instead of water
  • Canned tuna on white bread or crackers

For more protein-rich snack ideas, visit the Recipe Archive.

To maintain intake of phytonutrient rich fruits and vegetables, add these low fiber/low residue options to the snack ideas above:

  • Cooked vegetables such as carrots, winter squash, sweet potato (without skin), or pureed cauliflower
  • Canned fruits in natural juice
  • Peeled apple or applesauce
  • Ripe bananas
  • Mashed avocado
  • Honeydew, cantaloupe, or watermelon, with all seeds removed
  • 100% fruit/vegetable juice without the pulp

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