Diverticulitis diet

Your doctor may recommend different diets according to whether you are currently experiencing an attack of diverticulitis, or whether you have suffered an attack in the past and are trying to prevent another one.

Suggested Diverticulitis Diet

Diverticulitis occurs when pockets in the wall of the intestine, called diverticula, become inflamed or infected. Fortunately, sufferers can find relief by following a diverticulitis diet.

A low-residue diet is recommended during the flare-up periods of diverticulitis to decrease bowel volume so that the infection can heal. An intake of less than 10 grams of fiber per day is generally considered a low residue diverticulitis diet. If you have been on a low-residue diet for an extended period of time, your doctor may recommend a daily multi-vitamin/mineral supplement.  Here's a brief menu for diverticulitis:

Grain Products:

  • enriched refined white bread, buns, bagels, english muffins
  • plain cereals e.g. Cheerios, Cornflakes, Cream of Wheat, Rice Krispies, Special K
  • arrowroot cookies, tea biscuits, soda crackers, plain melba toast
  • white rice, refined pasta and noodles
  • avoid whole grains

Fruits:

  • fruit juices except prune juice
  • applesauce, apricots, banana (1/2), cantaloupe, canned fruit cocktail, grapes, honeydew melon, peaches, watermelon
  • avoid raw and dried fruits, raisins and berries.

Vegetables:

  • vegetable juices
  • potatoes (no skin)
  • alfalfa sprouts, beets, green/yellow beans, carrots, celery, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, mushrooms, green/red peppers, potatoes (peeled), squash, zucchini
  • avoid vegetables from the cruciferous family such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, Swiss chard etc

Meat and Protein Choice:

  • well-cooked, tender meat, fish and eggs
  • avoid beans and lentils
  • Avoid all nuts and seeds, as well as foods that may contain seeds (such as yogurt)

Dairy:

  • as directed by your healthcare providers

When symptoms of diverticulitis improve, you may ease off of the diverticulitis diet and gradually add more fiber back into your diet. A high-fiber diet is very important in preventing future diverticulitis attacks. As you increase your fiber intake, increase your fluid intake as well.

During a diverticulitis attack

During a mild diverticulitis attack you may be advised to go on a a liquid diet or one that is low in fiber. This kind of diet will let your colon rest and heal while the infection subsides.

Preventing a diverticulitis attack

Once the infection and inflammation has gone, a high-fiber diet is normally recommended, to ensure that constipation is avoided and food moves normally through the colon.  You should also consider taking a daily fiber supplement. FiberGI is a GI-formulated soluble fiber supplement that helps support your digestive system.

  • Eat a diet rich in fiber. The Institute of Medicine recommends 25 to 38 grams of fiber a day for people younger than age 50, and 21 to 30 grams a day for people older than age 50.
     
  • Fiber increases the weight and size of your stool in addition to softening it. Bulkier stool is easier pass. This reduces pressure inside your digestive tract, which is believed to contribute to diverticulitis.
     
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Fiber works by absorbing water and giving stool its bulk.

Should I avoid nuts and seeds?

There is a very common belief that diverticulitis sufferers need to avoid eating foods such as nuts, seeds and small grains because these foods might become stuck in the pouches or diverticula and cause further problems.

Some doctors may still advise you to avoid eating these types of foods. However, there is another more recent strain of thought which says that nuts and seeds do not cause any particular problems.

This is quote from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website:

"Until recently, many doctors suggested avoiding foods with small seeds such as tomatoes or strawberries because they believed that particles could lodge in the diverticula and cause inflammation.

However, it is now generally accepted that only foods that may irritate or get caught in the diverticula cause problems. Foods such as nuts, popcorn hulls, and sunflower, pumpkin, caraway, and sesame seeds should be avoided. The seeds in tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, strawberries, and raspberries, as well as poppy seeds, are generally considered harmless."

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