Diverticulitis flare-ups happen when the diverticula, which are small pouches on the wall of the intestines, become inflamed or infected. This can lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or constipation.
The first step to relieve discomfort is to adjust your die. You should opt for fluids that are easy to digest such as chicken stocks, freshly-squeezed fruit juices, coconut water or Jello. With this type of food, less stools will be formed and less bowel movements will occur, allowing the intestine to rest and relieve inflammation.
You can gradually adjust your diet as the flare-up improves by moving from a liquid-base diet to a puree diet, slowly building in more solids. Once the flare-up has resolved, you should increase the consumption of fiber-rich food and also drink plenty of water.
What to eat during a diverticulitis flare-up
When experiencing a diverticulitis flare-up, your diet should consist of low fiber food that is easy to digest. Some examples include freshly-squeezed fruit juice, chicken broth, water and soothing teas, such as chamomile or linden tea. You should keep a liquid-based diet should be followed for the first 24 hours.
As symptoms improve, you can incorporate some pureed fruits, like vegetable soups (pumpkin, celery, and yam), boiled vegetables (courgette or aubergine), and shredded chicken. In addition, you can also eat rice porridge, natural yogurt and sugar-free Jello. In general, this diet should be maintained for another 24 hours.
Once the pain resolves and the bowel functioning starts returning to normal, you can progress your diet to incorporate more solids. Solids should remain plain, however. Some examples include boiled rice, mashed potatoes, pasta, white bread, and plain biscuits. Eggs, fish, and dairy can also be slowly added.
What you should avoid
During a diverticulitis flare-up you should avoid eating unpeeled fruits, raw vegetables, red meats or food that stimulates 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 eating 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 gradually 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 to 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 demonstrates an example of a four-day diet plan that is suitable for a diverticulitis flare-up:
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4|
|Breakfast||Freshly squeezed apple juice||Rice porridge + 1 cup of apple juice||Rice porridge + 1 cup of peach juice||1 cup of skim milk + white bread with ricotta cheese + 1 cup of orange juice|
|Morning snack||Freshly squeezed pear juice + 1 cup of linden tea||1 cup of sugar free Jello||1 cooked pear with one teaspoon of cinnamon||Plain crackers|
|Lunch/ dinner||Chicken broth with shredded chicken||Pureed vegetable soup||90 g (3.4 oz) of shredded chicken + 4 table spoons of pumpkin puree + boiled spinach + 1 cooked apple||90 g (3.4 oz) of grilled fish + 4 tablespoons of rice + broccoli and carrot salad + 1 tablespoon of olive oil + 1 banana|
|Afternoon snack||1 cup of sugar free Jello + 1 cup of chamomile tea||1 cup of chamomile tea + 1 cup of peach juice||1 natural yogurt||1 apple|
*Quantities included in this diet plan may vary according to age, gender, physical activity or current health status. Therefore you are advised to be assessed by a doctor or registered dietitian for a more customized plan that addresses all you nutritional needs.