Diverticulitis is a condition which occurs when the diverticula – small, bulging pouches in the digestive tract – become infected and inflamed, causing severe abdominal pain, fever, and nausea.
A diverticulitis diet does not actually treat or prevent diverticulitis. Rather, it may help alleviate your symptoms while you are being treated for diverticulitis with other forms or treatments, such as antibiotics.
How a diverticulitis diet works
A diverticulitis diet works by giving your digestive a break while your condition is being treated. The diet involves limiting your food intake to clear liquids and (gradually adding) low-fiber foods, thus your digestive tract has time to heal.
Diverticulitis diet during an attack
Apart from treatments, your doctor may also recommend sticking to a clear liquid diet for 2-3 days during a diverticulitis attack. Some foods and beverages that you are allowed to take include:
- Clear soda
- Fruit juices without pulp
- Ice chips
- Ice pops without bits of fruit or fruit pulp
- Plain gelatin
- Plain water
- Tea or coffee without cream
Once your symptoms subside and you start feeling better, your doctor will recommend to gradually add low-fiber foods into your diet. Some of these foods include:
- Canned fruits
- Desserts without seeds or nuts
- Enriched white bread
- Fruit juice with little or no pulp
- Low-fiber cereals
- Yogurt or cheese without seeds or nuts
- Smooth peanut butter
- Tender meat, poultry and fish
- White rice or plain pasta, noodles or macaroni
- Well-cooked vegetables without seeds or skins
Diverticulitis diet after an attack
If you no longer experience any diverticulitis symptoms, your doctor may prescribe a high-fiber diet. As your body adjusts to your new diet, you can slowly increase the amount of fiber in your diet. The Mayo Clinic recommends consuming at least 25 grams of fiber each day if you’re a woman and 38 grams of fiber each day if you’re a man.
Some high-fiber foods that you can eat include:
- Brown rice
- Legumes, such as lentils and dried beans
- Whole-grain breads, such as whole wheat, rye and bran
- Whole-grain cereals that include wheat, bran or oats
- Wild rice
When to contact your doctor
Diverticulitis signs and symptoms normally subside after 2-3 days after starting your medical treatment. However, you should contact your doctor if:
- You don’t feel better after two or three days
- You start having fever
- Your abdominal pain is worsening
- You’re unable to keep clear liquids down
These could signal a complication that needs hospitalization.