Diverticulitis Diet: What You Can Eat & What To Avoid

Diverticulitis flare-ups happen when the diverticula, which are small pouches on the wall of the intestines, get inflamed or infected, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or constipation.

The first step to relieve discomfort is to adapt your diet, giving preference to clear liquids that are easy to digest such as chicken stocks, strained fruit juices, coconut water or gelatine. This helps the intestine to rest and decreases the formation of stools, relieving inflammation.

As the flare-up improves, diet can again be adapted, going from a liquid diet to a puree type diet, until it is possible to eat solid food. After that you should increase the consumption of fiber-rich food and also drink plenty of water, to avoid another flare-up.

Learn more about diverticulitis, it's symptoms and treatment options.

Diverticulitis Diet: What You Can Eat & What To Avoid

What to eat during a diverticulitis flare-up

A good diet during a diverticulitis flare-up should have few fibers and contain only foods that are easy to digest. It is then recommended that you only drink clear liquids such as fruit juices that have been strained. You can also have chicken broth, water and some calming teas, such as chamomile or linden tea. This type of diet must be kept for the first 24 hours.

As symptoms get better, you can evolve to a puree diet in which you can have strained fruit juices, strained vegetable soups (pumpkin, celery, and yam), boiled vegetables (courgette or aubergine), and chicken. In addition, you can also eat rice porridge, natural yogurt and sugar free gelatin. In general, this diet must be maintained for another 24 hours.

Once the pain stops and the bowels start working better, the diet can once more progress. At this stage you can start having some boiled rice, potato puree, pasta, white bread, and plain biscuits. Eggs, fish, and dairy can also be gradually added.

What you should avoid

During a diverticulitis flare-up you should avoid eating unpeeled fruits, raw vegetables, red meats or foods that stimulate gas formation such as milk, eggs, beans, industrialized products or frozen meals.

In addition, your diet should be low in fat, and you should avoid consuming fried foods, canned foods, sauces, and yellow cheeses. 

What your diet should be like after the flare-up 

After a diverticulitis flare-up it's important to progressively include fiber-rich foods into your day-to-day diet. Start by having one fruit or raw vegetable a day, and then progress by adding more fruits and vegetables, or even some wholegrain cereals into your day. In addition, you will also need to increase your daily water intake for at least 2 liters a day.

Including fibers and drinking plenty of water is very important to avoid constipation and make feces softer. When feces are not soft and get compacted inside the bowels it can cause the diverticula to get inflamed or infected, leading to other flare-up.

Diet plan for a diverticulitis flare-up

The following table shows a four-day diet plan you can do during a diverticulitis flare-up:

 Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4
BreakfastStrained apple juiceRice porridge + 1 cup of apple juiceRice porridge + 1 cup of peach juice1 cup of skimmed milk + white bread with ricotta cheese + 1 cup of orange juice
Morning snackStrained pear juice + 1 cup of linden tea1 cup of sugar free gelatin1 cooked pear with one teaspoon of cinnamon Plain cracker
Lunch/ dinnerShredded chicken soupStrained vegetable soup90 g (3.4 oz) of shredded chicken + 4 table spoons of pumpkin puree  + boiled spinach + 1 cooked apple90 g (3.4 oz) of grilled fish  + 4 tablespoons of rice + broccoli and carrot salad  + 1 tablespoon of olive oil + 1 banana
Afternoon snack1 cup of sugar free gelatin  + 1 cup of chamomile tea1 cup of chamomile tea + 1 cup of peach juice1 natural yogurt1 apple

*Quantities included in this diet plan may vary according to age, gender, physical activity or if there's any associated disease. Therefore it is recommended that you have individual guidance by a nutritionist, in order to assess all you nutritional needs.

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References

  • MAHAN, L. Kathleen et al. Krause: Alimentos, Nutrição e Dietoterapia. 13.ed. São Paulo: Elsevier Editora, 2013. 635-636.
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