Nutrition Guide for Small Bowel Syndrome (SBS)

Patients who have had a large part of their intestines removed will usually have special dietary needs. They may no longer be able to absorb enough nutrients and fluids from the food they eat. The condition is referred to as short bowel syndrome (SBS).

We have prepared a set of menu guidelines that can help SBS patients meet their nutritional needs.

Complex Carbohydrates

Good Choices for Breads and Grains

  • Sliced breads
  • Pita bread
  • Naan bread
  • Rolls
  • Bagels
  • English muffins
  • Plain waffles or pancakes
  • Corn bread
  • Plain muffins
  • Plain banana, carrot, or zucchini bread
  • Toasted tortillas: white, whole wheat, or corn
  • Pasta, macaroni, or noodles
  • Rice: white, brown, or wild
  • Biscuits (no gravy)
  • Bread sticks
  • Bread stuffing

Not-so-good choices

  • Donuts
  • Sweet rolls
  • Pop-Tarts
  • Pastries (see dessert section)
  • Pancakes or waffles with syrup or jelly

Good Choices for Cereals

  • Unsweetened cereals with a small amount of milk or dry, such as:
    • Cheerios
    • Cornflakes
    • Rice Krispies
    • Rice Chex
    • Spoonfuls
    • Special K
    • Kix
    • Puffed rice or wheat
  • Hot cereals, such as:
    • Cream of rice
    • Cream of wheat
    • Grits
    • Oatmeal

Not-so-good choices

  • Sugary cereals, such as:
    • Honey Nut Cheerios
    • Frosted Flakes
    • Coco Puffs
    • Fruit Loops
  • Flavored hot cereals, such as:
    • Maple or apple cinnamon oatmeal

Good Choices for Starchy Vegetables

  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes, yams
  • Plantain
  • Baked French fries
  • Butternut squash
  • Pumpkin squash

Not-so-good choices

  • Creamed vegetables
  • If you do not have a colon, limit legumes, such as: 
    • Lima beans
    • Kidney beans
    • Black beans
    • Pinto beans
    • Refried beans

Good Choices for Fruits

  • Unsweetened canned fruit (limit 1 cup per day), such as:
    • Applesauce
    • Pears
    • Peaches
    • Mandarin oranges
    • Apricots
    • Cherries
    • Plums
  • Bananas
  • 1/4 cup of fresh fruit 2 times a day

Not-so-good choices

  • Dried fruits
  • Fruit canned in juice or syrup
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit drinks with high fructose corn syrup, such as Capri-Sun

Good Choices for Snacks, Crackers, and Chips

  • Saltine crackers
  • Club crackers
  • Soda crackers
  • Oyster crackers
  • Matzoh crackers
  • Goldfish
  • Pretzels
  • Rice cakes
  • Bagel snack crackers
  • Corn or potato chips
  • Reduced fat potato chips

Not-so-good choices

  • Granola bars
  • Flavor-coated popcorn, such as Cracker Jacks
  • If you do not have a colon, limit high fiber snacks, such as 
    • Popcorn 
    • Kettle corn

Good Choices for Desserts

  • Animal crackers (no frosting)
  • Graham crackers
  • Gingersnaps
  • Vanilla wafers
  • Angel food cake
  • Shortbread
  • Plain pound cake
  • Cake donuts (no frosting, sugar, or sprinkles)
  • Marshmallows

Not-so-good choices

  • Cake with frosting
  • Cookies with frosting
  • Snack cakes, such as Little Debbies
  • Pie
  • Ice cream and sherbet
  • Popsicles
  • Pudding
  • Brownies
  • Candy
  • Frosted marshmallows
  • Donuts
  • Sweetened gelatin fruit snacks

Vegetables

Good Choices for Vegetables

  • Cooked carrots, squash, zucchini, eggplant, turnips, or beets
  • Small amounts (unless not tolerated) of:
    • Leafy greens (romaine, spinach, red lettuce, collard greens, kale)
    • Cucumber
    • Radishes
    • Green, red, and yellow peppers
    • Tomatoes

Not-so-good choices

  • Creamed vegetables
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Onions
  • Leeks

Fat

Good Choices for Fat

(You may need to limit fats. Talk with your provider or dietitian.)

  • Oils and salad dressings (full fat)
  • Miracle Whip
  • Butter or margarine
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Sesame paste (tahini)
  • Bacon
  • Coconut (shredded)

Not-so-good choices

  • Sweetened cream cheeses, such as strawberry and honey nut
  • Honey butter
  • Flavored nut butters
  • Cream
  • Half and half

Protein

Good Choices for Meat

  • Poultry (chicken or turkey)
  • Beef (flank steak, tenderloin, ground beef, meatloaf)
  • Lamb
  • Pork (ham, Canadian bacon, pork chop)
  • Fish (fresh or canned)
  • Shellfish (clams, crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp)
  • Game (duck, pheasant, venison, buffalo, bison)

Not-so-good choices

  • Fried:
    • Meat
    • Fish
    • Poultry

Good Choices for Dairy

(If not lactose intolerant)

  • Regular cheeses (American, cheddar, Swiss, Monterey jack, mozzarella, feta, parmesan)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Ricotta
  • Plain yogurt or yogurt sweetened with artificial sweeteners
  • Plain milk
  • Buttermilk
  • Plain soy
  • Tofu

Not-so-good choices

  • Sweetened yogurts
  • Kefir
  • Eggnog
  • Chocolate or other flavored milks
  • Flavored soy or rice milks
  • Cream
  • Half and half

Good Choices for Eggs

  • Poached
  • Hard or soft cooked
  • Omelet
  • Scrambled

Not-so-good choices

  • Eggs with ingredients that are not allowed

Good Choices for Nuts

  • If permitted: peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts
  • Peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower seed, or soy butters

Not-so-good choices

  • Nutella
  • Flavored nut butters
  • Nut butters with jelly mixed in

Seasonings

Good Choices for Seasonings

  • Salt, pepper, herbs, spices, garlic
  • Dill pickles
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Tabasco or hot pepper sauce
  • Sugar substitutes, such as:
    • Splenda
    • Equal
    • Sweet ’N Low
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder

Not-so-good choices

  • White or brown sugar
  • Maple or other syrups, such as Karo and high fructose corn syrup
  • Jams and jellies
  • Chocolate or other flavored syrups
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Nutella
  • Sugar alcohols (sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol) in sugar-free gum and candy

Drinks

Good Choices for Drinks

  • Oral rehydration solutions, such as:
    • Ceralyte
    • DripDrop
    • WHO formula
    • Pedialite (or store brand)
  • Soups and broth
  • 6 ounces of lactaid milk if allowed
  • Limit water

Not-so-good choices

  • More than 4 ounces of coffee, tea, or ice tea each day
  • Flavored or sweetened coffees or teas
  • Hot cocoa
  • Ovaltine and Nesquick
  • Fruit juices and fruit drinks
  • Drinks with high fructose corn syrup
  • Kool-Aid and Tang
  • Sodas (all kinds)
  • Sugar free drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Liquid nutritional supplements, such as:
    • Boost
    • Ensure
    • Other store brands
Last reviewed: 
June 2019

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