Adjusting your diet or healthy dietary tweaks is the first step to relieving any health discomfort. The same goes for diverticulitis. Over time, your intestine suffers wear and tear from eating, absorbing, and processing food. In addition, years of repeated and sometimes uneven pressure weaken the lining or elasticity of the colon, forming a sac or pouch which leads to a condition known as diverticulitis. gIn layman’s terms, diverticulitis refers to small pockets in your colon.
You may want to limit a few foods in your diet while experiencing diverticulitis flare-ups or avoid one in the future. As for foods to eat more, focus on high-quality, nutrient-dense food that is easy to digest. In some situations of diverticulitis attack, a high-fibre diet is your best friend, but in others, maybe not. This article breaks down the latest dietary advice for diverticulitis and how else you can manage the flare-up.
Understanding a Diverticulitis Diet
The best diet for diverticulitis depends on whether you’re having symptoms, recovering, or trying to prevent an attack. For example, a clear liquid diet may be best during an acute episode of uncomplicated diverticulitis attack. In the case of complete recovery from a diverticulitis attack, you should eat a regular, healthy, high-fibre diet. A low-fibre diet is a practical option for the typical outpatient starting to eat solid foods again. Therefore, the outline of a diverticulitis diet concerns how the patient feels.
The ICN Note
What you eat when you have an acute diverticulitis attack differs from what you eat when you’re better. If you do not have a flare-up episode, it’s okay to eat any foods you know for sure are not a trigger for you. But, again, the food list for the diverticulitis diet is subjective. Once the symptoms are under control, you can return to regular eating habits.
What to Eat in a Diverticulitis Diet
If you have diverticulitis symptoms, you should think about consuming low-fibre meals like:
- Low-fibre starches: You can also choose potatoes without the skin. You can bake, roast, or mash them. Also recommended are low-fibre bowls of cereal, like cornflakes.
- Proteins: Pick tofu, meat or seafood, whole eggs, and egg whites for your protein sources. It should be delicate, so baked fish and shredded chicken work well.
- Fruits: Be careful as they contain a lot of fibre. Some options include ripe bananas, peaches or pears in cans, ripe, soft cantaloupe, and honeydew. If you’re not eating the skin, there’s not a lot of fibre.
- If you’re recovering from a flare-up, Greek yoghurt and cottage cheese are huge winners. They lack fibre but are rich in calcium, protein, and other minerals. Additionally, they’re softer, moister, and simpler to swallow if you’re not feeling well. You can also have low-fat cheese and plant-based milk.
Clear Liquid Diet
A more restricted method of treating diverticulitis symptoms is a clear liquid diet. However, you must not follow it for an extended period.
A clear liquid diet typically includes:
- Ice chips
- Soup, broth, or stock
- Gelatin (like Jell-O)
- Clear electrolyte drinks without any creams, flavours, or sweeteners
- Soothing teas, such as chamomile or linden tea
You should boost your intake of fibre-rich foods and drink lots of water after the flare-up has subsided. Several foods high in fibre include:
One of the best sources of dietary fibre is whole grains. A delightful, wholesome, and adaptable method to increase fibre in your diet is by consuming whole-grain products like multigrain bread, crackers, quinoa, and brown rice.
Fresh fruits like apples offer the highest fibre when eaten with the skin. They are also high in potassium and might be particularly beneficial to healing from an upset stomach.
Beans and legumes
You can include kidney beans, navy beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
When symptom-free and consuming a high-fibre diet, raw vegetables—particularly root and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and other root vegetables—are nutritious powerhouses.
Foods to Avoid During Diverticulitis
Processed and Red Meat
A study found that consuming a lot of processed and red meat may raise your risk of diverticulitis.
Fatty and Sugary Foods
The typical Western diet tends to be low in fibre and rich in sugar and fat. As a result, it might make you more likely to get diverticulitis.
Avoiding the following foods helps prevent diverticulitis or lessen its signs and symptoms:
- Refined carbohydrates
- Fried items
- Full-fat dairy
- Sugary products
FODMAPs, which stand for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, are a class of carbohydrates. According to one study, diverticulitis may be avoided or treated by adopting a low-FODMAP diet since it lowers colonic pressure.
Some foods you have to avoid or limit are:
- Dairy products, such as milk, flavoured yoghurt, and ice cream
- Foods that have undergone fermentation, like sauerkraut or kimchi
- Legumes and beans
- Foods that contain trans fat
Since each person will have unique dietary needs and sensitivities, and since several of these foods also include healthy fibre, a person should consult a health professional before making any significant adjustments to their diet. You can obtain the right advice on balanced and portion-controlled meals by speaking with the health experts at ICN.
The ICN Note
Consuming enough fibre appears to be essential. A high-fibre diet may lower the risk of diverticulitis and enhance overall digestive health. But those who are flaring up would be better off staying away from high-fibre foods. Red and processed meat restrictions may also lessen risk and symptoms. Depending on how severe the acute diverticulitis flare-up is, an initial diet low in fibre or a clear liquid diet may help to alleviate symptoms.
- Freshly squeezed apple or pear juice: 1 glass
- Rice porridge: ½ cup
- Plain crackers
- Cooked pear with one teaspoon of cinnamon: ½
- Pureed vegetable soup: 1 cup/200 ml
- Shredded chicken: 80-90 g/½ cup
- Grilled fish: ½ cup
- Rice: 4 tbsp
- Banana: 1
Simple Ways to Manage Diverticulitis With Diet
A few golden rules regarding following a diverticulitis diet can keep your stomach happy.
Take it Slow
After a diverticulitis attack, you must gradually ease into your usual diet. There is no need to rush and immediately indulge in a high-fibre diet. Instead, take your time by initially eating a low-fibre diet during and immediately after a bout of diverticulitis flare-ups.
Find the Triggers
Know what triggers your diverticulitis flare-ups. If something triggers your symptoms, say nuts and popcorn, avoid eating it even after recovering from the diverticulitis attack. Your triggers can be different from what another person has. Sometimes, you might be able to eat foods that other people can’t.
Following are some behaviours to adopt to manage diverticulitis:
- Regular exercise
- Stop smoking (smokers are at a higher risk of developing complications from diverticulitis)
- Avoid using NSAIDs
- Drink a lot of water
- Keep your body at a healthy weight
- Attend to your gastrointestinal needs
- Moderate red meat consumption
Figuring out what causes diverticulitis for you can help personalise your diet accordingly. During an acute episode of flare-ups, experts recommend starting with clear liquids before moving on to low-fibre foods. Once you feel like adding solids to your diet again, switch to a healthy, high-fibre diet. Patients often worry about consuming high-fibre foods, but continuous low fibre intake can cause serious health concerns.
Diverticulitis patients should always maintain an active lifestyle, eat a healthy diet, limit alcohol use, and give up smoking to support overall health, reduce illness risk, and enhance general health and well-being.