The term diverticula refers to small, bulging pouches that form on the surface of the intestine. One is diagnosed with diverticulitis, when these pouches become inflamed, thereby giving rise to symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, bloating, vomiting, and fever. One of the important self-care measures that needs to be followed is to follow a soft diet that includes pureed food items that are easy to digest. The main objective is to prevent the digestive system from being overburdened by excluding foods that are difficult to digest. In some cases, doctors recommend a liquid diet initially. The patient is asked to first include low-fiber foods, before the high-fiber food items are introduced in the diet gradually. Consumption of fiber-rich food ensures the smooth passage of digested food through the digestive tract. It also strengthens the muscles of the digestive tract, thereby lowering the risk of the development of weak spots in the intestinal walls. However, it's essential to add fiber gradually, as shifting from a low-fiber to a high-fiber diet could cause abdominal pain and flatulence.
Diet for People Affected by Diverticulitis
It is believed that the formation of diverticula occurs when the fecal matter puts pressure on the weak spots present in the walls of the large intestine. Consumption of a low-fiber diet causes hardening of the stool, which in turn leads to constipation. Straining during bowel movements can cause weak spots in the walls, which in turn, might lead to formation of these pouches. Bacterial overgrowth can occur when the fecal matter gets trapped inside these sacs, which might lead to the inflammation of these pouches. Therefore, it is essential to alleviate the symptoms of constipation by following a soft diet.
In some cases, the patients are asked to follow a clear liquid diet or consume mashed, blended, or pureed food items that are easy to digest. Broths, soups, clear fruit juices, popsicles, etc., can be safely included. With time, this diet needs to be replaced by a healthy, high-fiber diet.
One also needs to ensure that the diet fulfill the body's requirements of the essential nutrients. For that, one needs to balance out nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. For instance, one can have overcooked white rice, noodles, various types of pastas, soft casseroles, soufflés, cereals, skinless and seedless fruits, cooked vegetables, potatoes, etc., for carbohydrates. When it comes to protein, one can have eggs, milk, and fish. It would be a good idea to cook the foods in healthy fats like olive oil, safflower oil, or canola oil. Avoid fried foods, spicy foods, processed foods, food items that the patient might be allergic to, etc.
Here is a comprehensive food list for diverticulitis patients. It would be a good idea to consult your healthcare provider and a dietitian.
|Food Group||Foods to Avoid||Foods to Include|
|Beverages||-||Herbal tea, cereal beverages|
|Desserts||Desserts that are made of whole grains, nuts, and disallowed foods||Custard, ice cream, pudding, sherbet, jelly|
|Fats||Olives, nuts, high fat seasonings, high fat salad dressings||Butter, cream, margarine|
|Fruits||Dry fruits, fruits that are not mentioned in the allowed foods section||Applesauce, apricots, bananas, cherries, peaches, pears, pineapples, citrus fruits (without membranes), all fruit juices, cooked fruits, canned fruits|
|Soups||All other soups that are not mentioned in the allowed foods section||Broths, stocks, bouillons, cream soups, canned soups and all the soups that are made of allowed foods|
|Starch||Foods made using coarse foods, whole grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, fried foods||Any foods made using refined floor, white floor, light rye, graham flours, all refined cereals, rice, rice noodles, pastas, potatoes in all forms|
|Vegetables||All vegetables in unpeeled and raw forms and those are not listed in the allowed foods section||Asparagus, beets, carrots, green beans, wax beans, peas, spinach, pumpkin, squash, tomato juice, cooked vegetables|
|Miscellaneous||Strong spices, heavy foods, popcorn, mustard, horseradish, pickles||Mild spices, pepper, salt, vinegar, mild herbs|
You should gradually include high-fiber food items. Make sure that the patient stays well-hydrated, and also gets adequate amount of sleep.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a dietitian.