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A Healthy Diet for Diverticulitis

It’s not easy to give up your favorite foods after discovering they threaten your health and well-being. Saying goodbye to our guilty pleasures like greasy cheeseburgers, silky chocolate, and even toasty bread can be practically heartbreaking. But at the end of the day, most of us will choose our future and health over our beloved food.

While it’s difficult to constantly monitor foods that might trigger unpleasant symptoms, it’s also crucial—especially for those with chronic conditions such as diverticulitis, which occurs when small pouches in the colon become inflamed or infected due to small pieces of undigested food or stool that gets stuck inside.

However, there are recommended foods to avoid, as well as ones you should eat when your diverticulitis is acting up and when it’s dormant.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of diverticulitis, such as pain on your lower left side, fever, boating, and diarrhea, you should stick to a liquid diet until the symptoms subside, or for as long as your doctor recommends.

Liquid Diet:

  • Water
  • Fruit Juice
  • Broth or creamed soup that has been strained
  • Milkshakes
  • Ice cream or ice pops- no fruit or chocolate chips!
  • Tea
  • Pudding
  • Protein supplements

Once you start feeling better, don’t jump into the car and drive over to the closest burger joint. Instead, you’ll want to gradually enter solid foods into your diet, starting with food that is low in fiber.

Low-Fiber Diet:

  • Enriched white bread- without seeds!
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Dairy Products
  • White rice
  • Plain white pasta

When times are good, be sure to eat foods that are high in fiber. This will help with digestion since it softens the stool and makes it easier to pass through the colon, ultimately reducing your chances of experiencing diverticular symptoms. High-fiber food can also help you reduce your blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and control your blood sugar levels. However, be cautious when searching for high fiber foods. Some foods that are full of fiber may also be items you should avoid, such as nuts.  

High-fiber and Safe to Eat Diet:

  • Beans  (cooked)
  • Bran cereal
  • Peas or lentils (cooked)
  • Fruit (apples, bananas, blueberries, pineapple, grapefruit, etc.)
  • Vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, carrots, green peppers, sweet potatoes, etc.)
  • Whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals (all seedless, of course!)
  • Brown rice
  • Peanut Butter or Almond Butter (creamy)
  • Fiber-based supplements, like Metamucil

Quick tip: You can check the fiber contents of a particular food item on its nutrition label.  Recommended daily fiber intake is: 25 grams for women ages 19-50; 21 grams for women 51 and older; 38 grams for men ages 19-50; 30 grams for men 51 and older.