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We may suggest a low-fat diet if your body has trouble digesting and absorbing fat, or if you have gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, or a stomach or intestinal illness. If you follow the serving guidelines number for each food group, you will get the nutrition you need. Always choose the low-fat foods within each group (“choose these foods” section).

Milk Group

2 or more cups per day.

Choose These Foods

  • Fat free or 1% milk

  • Low-fat soymilk, nonfat lactose-free milk (Lactaid®, Dairy Ease®), rice milk

  • Fat free or 1% buttermilk

  • Nonfat yogurt

Avoid These Foods

  • Whole and 2% milks

  • Ice milk, if made with whole milk

  • Cream soups (unless made with skim milk)

  • Ice cream, whole milk yogurt

Meat and Meat Substitutes

5-7 ounces lean meat, poultry or fish per day.

Choose These Foods

  • Lean or extra-lean beef cuts (round, sirloin), skinless poultry, fish

  • Veal: any trimmed cuts except ground

  • Lean pork cuts: tenderloin, leg (fresh)

  • Lean lamb cuts: leg, arm, loin

  • Venison and other wild game

  • Egg whites or egg substitute

  • Cold cuts made with lean meat or soy protein

These foods count for 1 oz of lean meat:

  • Low fat cheese, like mozzarella or farmer’s cheese (1 ounce)

  • Fat-free, 1% or 2% cottage cheese(1/4 cup)

  • Egg (one)

  • Dried beans, peas and lentils (1/2cup cooked)

Avoid These Foods

  • Limit to no more than 7 oz per day of meats, poultry or fish

  • Bacon

  • Bratwurst

  • Nuts and seeds

  • No more than 1 egg per day

  • Regular cheeses

  • Duck or goose (domestic)

  • Fish canned in oil

  • Hot dogs (beef)

  • Luncheon meats if less than 96% fat free, salami, bologna

  • Liverwurst, salt pork, sausage

  • Poultry skin

  • Spare ribs

  • Prime-grade meats, heavily marbled meats

  • Corned beef

  • Organ meats


5 or more servings per day.

Choose These Foods

  • Breads, bagels, pita, breadsticks (no butter)

  • Hot or cold breakfast cereal

  • Pasta, rice, and couscous

  • Tortilla (soft shell)

  • Fat free or low-fat crackers (check label)

  • Pretzels

  • Air-popped popcorn

  • Cereal and grain products are low in fat and can be used in any amount if no fat has been added

Avoid These Foods

  • Biscuits

  • Baked items (donuts, cookies, cake, pastries, muffins, sweet rolls croissants, quick breads)

  • Waffles and pancakes

  • Tortilla (hard shell), corn or potato chips

  • Chow mein noodles

  • Granola

  • Mixes for baked products (unless labeled fat free)

Fruits and Vegetables

4 or more servings per day.

Choose These Foods

Most fruits and vegetables are low in fat. Use in any amount.

Avoid These Foods

  • Any deep-fried vegetables, like French fries, onion rings or mushrooms

  • Coconut, avocados

  • Vegetables made with butter, cheese or cream sauce


Limit to 1-3 servings per day (serving sizes listed).

Choose These Foods

  • Mayo (1 tsp)

  • Butter, margarine, shortening or oil (1 tsp)

  • Cream cheese (1 Tbsp)

  • Sour cream (2 Tbsp)

  • Half and half, cream or non-dairy creamer (2 Tbsp)

  • Salad dressing, regular (1 Tbsp)

  • Salad dressing, diet (2 Tbsp)

  • Olives (5 small)

  • Nuts (6 small)

Avoid These Foods

  • Chocolate

  • High fat sauces: cheeses, hollandaise, mornay, alfredo, barbecue, béarnaise, cream, and butter

  • Chitterlings


Limit to 1 per day.

Choose These Foods

  • Angel food cake

  • Pudding with skim milk

  • Fat-free frozen yogurt

  • Popsicles or water ices

  • Gelatin

Avoid These Foods

  • Chocolate candies, caramel, candies with nuts

  • Pies, cakes, cookies made with added fat

  • Ice cream

Other Foods

These foods contain very small amounts of fat and can be eaten as desired.

Choose These Foods

  • Condiments (horseradish, ketchup, mustard, pickles, spices and herbs, syrup, molasses, honey, vinegar, sweet and sour sauce)

  • Candy (jelly beans, gum drops, hard candy, plain mints)

  • Broth, bouillon cubes

Avoid These Foods

  • Canned and frozen meals with more than 15 grams fat per serving

  • Snack chips or crackers

Cooking Tips

  • Choose grades of meat with little visible fat.

  • Trim any visible fat from meat before cooking; remove poultry skin.

  • Meats may be grilled, roasted, boiled or broiled. Use a non-stick pan and cooking spray to reduce fat when cooking.

  • Remove fat from pan as meat cooks.

  • Add water, juices, or wine to prevent meat from becoming tough or dry.

  • To remove fat from broth, soup or gravy, put liquid in the fridge and skim fat from the surface once it hardens.

Who to Call

If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions, please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at

Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.

Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770.