What to Eat for Diverticulitis

Diet for During and After a Diverticulitis Attack

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Are you experiencing the challenging symptoms of a diverticulitis attack? Knowing what to eat when you are having an attack to allow your colon to heal is important. Then, you'll want to know the kind of diet to follow that might reduce the risk of having further attacks.

Diverticulitis is a condition in which the diverticula, tiny pockets found in the lining of the large intestine, become inflamed and possibly infected.

You may have received a diagnosis first of diverticulosis when these pockets were found during an imaging procedure such as a colonoscopy. About 15 to 20 percent of people with diverticulosis progress to having diverticulitis attacks.

Hopefully, you have already contacted your doctor. If you haven't, this is an essential step to ensure an accurate diagnosis and assessment of the seriousness of your condition.

Eating While Symptomatic With a Diverticulitis Attack

While your diverticulitis is active, you may have abdominal pain and tenderness and fever. Your doctor will most likely recommend that you follow a liquid diet with no solid foods whatsoever in order to help your colon rest and heal. Stick to the following:

  • Black coffee
  • Broth
  • Fruit juices (apple, pear, grape, cranberry, not orange) clear, without pulp
  • Popsicles
  • Jello
  • Tea
  • Water

After the Attack

Your doctor will be the one to give you the green light as to when to start to re-introduce solid foods back into your diet.

At first, they are likely to recommend that you only eat low-fiber foods. Here are some examples:

  • Protein: Poultry, eggs, fish, meat
  • Dairy products:: Milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Low fiber grains: White bread, white pasta, plain noodles, white rice, low-fiber cereal
  • Fruits: Canned or cooked only, without any seeds or skin
  • Vegetables: Canned and cooked only, without any seeds or skin

During Recovery

As you continue to recover, your doctor will recommend that you slowly start to add fiber back into your diet. Work your way up to a high-fiber diet so as to try to prevent further diverticulitis episodes.

If you feel an attack may be coming on, contact your doctor discuss whether you should switch to a liquid only diet until the symptoms pass.

Diverticulitis Diet After Recovery

Enjoying a high-fiber diet with whole grains, vegetables, and fruits is not only a healthy way to eat for everyone, it also keeps stool moving easily through your colon so you may have fewer diverticulitis attacks.

Aim for 20 to 35 grams of fiber in your diet each day. The best sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains:

  • Beans and lentils
  • Brown and wild rice
  • Fruits of all kinds (don't worry about those with seeds, they are now considered safe)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Vegetables of all kinds
  • Whole grain breads, cereals, and pasta

Be sure to drink enough water and other liquids each day. Avoiding dehydration will also ease the passage of stool through your intestinal system.

Seeds and Nuts Are Again Part of a Diverticulitis Diet

Past recommendations to avoid seeds, nuts, and popcorn have been discontinued.

You may enjoy these foods once you are able to begin increasing the fiber in your diet. You no longer need to avoid the seeds in berries, cucumbers, and other fruits and vegetables, either.

Sources:

Diverticulitis Diet. Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/diverticulitis-diet/art-20048499.

"Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Diverticular Disease."National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/diverticulosis-diverticulitis/eating-diet-nutrition

Humes, D. & Spiller, R. "Review article: the pathogenesis and management of acute colonic diverticulitis" Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics 2014 39:359–370.

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