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 www.uwhealth.org/nutrition.

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.