Closeup of someone eating white pasta as part of a diet for blocked bowel


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Ovacome is a national charity providing support to anyone affected by ovarian cancer.  We give information about symptoms, diagnosis, treatments and research. Ovacome runs a telephone and email support line and works to raise awareness and give a voice to all those affected by ovarian cancer.

A blocked bowel (also known as bowel obstruction) is a possible complication of ovarian cancer. This can happen for several reasons.

As the tumour grows it can press on the bowel, causing a blockage. Sticky tissue called adhesions can form after surgery and can stop food passing down the gut.

If you have experienced or are at risk of a blocked bowel, you may be advised to eat less fibre. This is known as a fibre-restricted diet or a low residue diet.

This sort of diet may not be suitable for you. If you are not sure whether this applies to you, please check with your doctor or specialist cancer dietitian.


Why should I eat less fibre?

Fibre (also called roughage) is the part of food that you do not digest which passes down into the lower part of the gut where harmless bacteria ferment it and produce gas (wind).

Eating less fibre will reduce the amount of waste you produce and, as a result, ease symptoms such as bloating and stomach pains. It may also reduce the risk of your bowel becoming blocked.


Will this type of diet work?

It is difficult to study the possible benefits of a fibre-restricted diet for a blocked bowel. Most of the evidence to suggest this type of diet is helpful comes from the experience of doctors, nurses and dietitians working with people with ovarian cancer.


What is a fibre-restricted diet?

This type of diet includes low-fibre foods and a reduced amount of fruit, vegetables and wholemeal products. The lists at the end of this booklet give examples of foods you should avoid and foods which are allowed.


What about constipation?

A fibre-restricted diet still contains some fibre. If you are worried about being constipated, talk to your doctor as you may need laxatives. For our bowels to work properly, it is important to have enough to drink. We normally need about eight to 10 cups of fluid each day (two litres a day).


What about vitamins and minerals?

When some foods are limited in your diet, it can be difficult to make sure you get the right amount of vitamins and minerals. It may be necessary to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement.

There are lots of supplements available in chemists, health food shops and supermarkets. A dietitian can give you advice about whether you need to take supplements, and they can also recommend which type to buy.


What if the diet is too difficult to follow?

As part of a healthy diet, we are all being encouraged to eat more fibre. Like many people who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you may have been eating lots of fruit and vegetables, wholemeal bread and high-fibre breakfast cereals. So, a fibre-restricted diet can be completely different to your normal diet.

If you are finding it difficult to follow a fibre-restricted diet, ask for a referral to a dietitian who can give you further advice on suitable food choices.


What if I’m losing weight?

If your stomach is bloated and uncomfortable, it is often difficult to eat a normal-sized meal. This can eventually lead to you losing weight. It is usually better to have several small meals and snacks during the day. If you have a poor appetite and you lose weight, try to eat foods high in energy such as those containing fat and sugar. Your doctor or dietitian may also recommend nourishing drinks and oral nutritional supplements to help stabilise your weight. These are likely to be available on prescription.


Is a fibre-restricted diet suitable for people with ovarian cancer?

This type of diet is not suitable or necessary for all people with ovarian cancer. It is likely only to be a benefit if you have or are at risk of a blocked bowel.


A low-residue diet


Foods you are allowed

Foods you should avoid


Lean meat, chicken, fish, offal (liver, kidneys), eggs, cheese.

Tofu, Quorn.

Tough stringy meat.

Pulses, nuts and seeds

Smooth coconut milk, small portion smooth peanut butter, small portion hummus.

All varieties of pulses, nuts, seeds and beans.



Cheese, milk (all types including dairy alternatives), ice-cream, natural and fruit-flavoured yoghurts, custard, cream, butter, margarine.

Fruit yoghurt containing skins or pips.

Ice cream containing fruit or nuts.

Starchy food


White flour, bread rolls, crumpets, scones, croissants, brioche. Plain naan bread, chapatti, poppadums.

White crackers (such as cream crackers), white biscuits (such as

Rich Tea).

White pasta (such as macaroni, spaghetti), white rice, pitta bread made with white flour, rice noodles.

Low-fibre breakfast cereal without fruit or nuts (such as Rice Krispies,

Sugar Puffs, Coco Pops, Ricicles, Cornflakes).


Wholemeal flour, wholemeal brown bread, granary bread, soft-grain bread and rolls. 

Wholemeal crackers, such as Ryvita and Crackerwheat.

Whole wheat biscuits, such as digestives and Hob Nobs  .

Whole wheat pasta and brown rice.

Pearl barley, spelt, quinoa, bulgar wheat, gnocchi.

High-fibre breakfast cereals, such as Weetabix, Bran flakes, muesli,

All Bran, Shredded Wheat, porridge and Fruit and Fibre.


Ripe, peeled and cored apples, pears, peaches, apricots and melon.

Fruit juice (no bits).

Pureed, stewed, tinned or cooked fruit (without skins, pips or stones).

Smooth fruit sauces and coulis with pips removed.

Fruit with skins, pips or seeds, such as strawberries, citrus fruit,

gooseberries, rhubarb.

Fruit juice with bits.

Tomato and prune juice.

All dried fruit.


Peeled and well-cooked potato, carrots, turnips, swede, marrow, beetroot, cauliflower florets, broccoli florets.

Sieved tomato sauces or soup, including passata and tomato puree.

Ripe avocado.

Clear soups without vegetables.

Peas, pulses, celery, radishes, cucumber, spring onions, sweet corn,

cabbage, brussel sprouts, vegetable stalks, cauliflower and broccoli stalks, tomatoes, leeks.

All vegetable skins, pips, seeds, stalks and peel.

Soup containing vegetable chunks.



Jam, marmalade without peel or pips, lemon curd and honey.

Sweets, chocolate, cakes, biscuits without fruit or nuts and coconut.

Crisps, pretzels, cheese twists.


Rough-cut marmalade, jam with pips.

Sweets, chocolate, cakes, biscuits with dried fruit, nuts or coconut.



Condiments e.g. tomato ketchup, sweet chilli sauce, brown sauce, barbeque sauce, mayonnaise, smooth mustard.

Tea, coffee, malted drinks, hot chocolate, squash, Oxo, Bovril, salt and pepper.

Pickles and chutney.

Wholegrain mustard.



Tortilla crisps.



Support for you

Ovacome is the UK 's national ovarian cancer support charity. We've been providing emotional support and personalised, expert information since 1996. Contact our support line by phone, email or text if you have questions about a diagnosis, or if you just want to talk things through.

We support anyone affected by ovarian cancer, including family members, carers, those with an inherited risk, and health professionals working in the field.

We run support group and events, both in person and online, providing an opportunity to connect with others. Find out more about our groups and events here.

Support line


If you would like more information on the sources and references for this page, please call us on 0800 008 7054. If you would like to discuss anything about ovarian cancer, please phone our support line on 0800 008 7054 Monday to Friday between 10am and 5pm.

Booklet text reviewed by Rachel White, Specialist dietitian, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust.

V.2.3. Last updated May 2023, Due for review May 2026

Disclaimer: Ovacome provides information and support.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information at the time of printing.  The information we give is not a substitute for professional medical care.  If you suspect you have cancer you should consult your doctor as quickly as possible. Ovacome cannot accept liability for any inaccuracy in linked sources. Rights reserved.

Did you find this information helpful? We welcome your feedback. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email [email protected] or call 0207 299 6653.