Diverticula are small bulges that form on the lining of the digestive tract. When these bulges become infected, diverticulitis has set in.
While a more serious case can require hospitalization and surgery, even a less severe case will require some major dietary alterations. Here’s a look at how to go about creating a diverticulitis diet.
In the beginning phases of treatment, a liquid diet may be called for. It’s easier for the digestive system to pass liquids, which allows it to rest for a little bit and get some healing time in.
However, since it’s difficult to get every necessary nutrient, liquid diets are generally only a short-term treatment. Additionally, “liquid diet” doesn’t mean any and every type of liquid. Traditionally, you should stick to getting plenty of water or ice chips, supplemented with broths, no-pulp fruit juices, popsicles, and gelatin.
When your healthcare provider gives the okay, you can begin to slowly reintroduce foods that are low in fiber.
What to Eat
To get your diverticulitis under control, there are foods you can include in your diet to keep a healthier digestive tract. However, it may take some time to get onto your new diet, particularly if you’ve been on liquids for a few days.
While some sources report a diet lacking in fiber is the reason diverticula first form, other experts suspect too much fiber is the problem, as it encourages the bowels to move more frequently. So, while you want to include fiber in your diet, don’t overdo it—the recommended amount of daily fiber is 20 to 35 grams .
Whole grain breads and cereals, beans, legumes, vegetables, and fruits are excellent, healthy sources of fiber. Additionally, continue to get plenty of water and stay hydrated, even once the liquid diet has run its course. Water will also help process fiber properly.
What Not to Eat
Foods that break into tiny, hard pieces like peanuts or sunflower seeds were considered off-limits for a diverticulitis diet for a long time, as it was suspected they could get stuck in the diverticula, causing infection. While some research shows this is not necessarily the case, some doctors still advise patients to stay away from popcorn, nuts, and seeds. Other foods that may make diverticulitis worse or cause it to reoccur include red meats that are hard to digest and other very fatty foods that can make digestion take longer.