Diverticulitis is a serious health condition in which inflamed pouches (diverticula) develop in your digestive tract, according to Mayo Clinic. These pouches can cause severe abdominal pain and sometimes result in a trip to the ER. As far as treatment goes, changing your diet is one of the best ways to reduce diverticulitis symptoms.
Curious about which foods to eat and which ones to avoid if you have diverticulitis? Read on to learn more.
Eat More: Whole Grains
According to Cleveland Clinic, high-fiber foods, such as foods with whole grains, help fight constipation by softening stool. Such fiber-rich foods also create less pressure against diverticulitis polyps. Keep in mind, though, high-fiber diets are only recommended for some diverticulitis patients.
Most grain foods come in whole-grain options, including whole-grain pasta, whole-grain rice, whole-grain bread and whole-grain cereal. So, it’s easy to find whole-grain alternatives when you grocery shop!
Eat More: Beans
Beans are high in fiber, which makes them a great option for people with diverticulitis. Eating foods, such as beans, that are high in fiber allow for a healthier digestive system. And, beans are fairly easy to add to your diet. You can add them to salads and soups or eat them as a side dish.
Eat More: Lentils
Lentils are another great source of fiber and provide the same benefits that other fiber-rich foods do. Diverticulitis patients can expect a diet that includes lentils to assist in keeping their digestive systems healthy. You can incorporate lentils into your diet by adding them to pasta, soup, curry sauce or even with roasted vegetables.
Eat More: Nuts
Looking for a high-fiber snack? Nuts are a wonderful source of fiber, as well as many vitamins. Plus, you can add them to your salad or baked goods for an extra crunch. Cleveland Clinic states that nuts do not pose a risk to people with diverticulitis, contrary to popular belief.
Nuts and seeds high in fiber include:
- Chia seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Flax seeds
Eat More: Peanut Butter
Who doesn’t love peanut butter? As a protein-rich food, peanut butter makes a great food to eat with diverticulitis. Add it to a whole grain piece of toast or top your oatmeal with it, and you’re good to go!
Eat More: Eggs
For less-severe diverticulitis cases, doctors might recommend diets rich in protein. Eggs are a great source of protein and can be incorporated into all kinds of meals, from breakfast, to lunch, to dinner. Egg whites are also an option.
Eat More: Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt can make a wonderful breakfast parfait or turn a boring salad dressing into something much more enjoyable. And, it turns out, this yogurt is safe to eat for people with diverticulitis.
According to Cleveland Clinic, Greek yogurt can help people with diverticulitis recover from a flare-up. Plus, Greek yogurt is high in protein, another important dietary factor to think about if you have diverticulitis.
Eat More: Pears
Pears are another healthy food option for diverticulitis patients who are not prescribed a high-fiber diet. Pears are low in fat and cholesterol and high in Potassium and Vitamin C. They can make a tasty addition to a breakfast fruit salad.
Eat More: Applesauce
Not only is applesauce easy to digest, but it is also a great food option for people who frequently experience nausea and/or vomiting. Applesauce is safe to eat if you have diverticulitis, and it is a tasty addition to other foods, including oatmeal.
Eat More: Bananas
Another fruit that diverticulitis patients should enjoy frequently is bananas. That’s because bananas provide a great source of potassium and can help alleviate cramps. Flare-ups are no joke, and bananas can reduce some of the pain that comes with them.
Eat More: Broccoli
Broccoli is another high-fiber food that can help some people with diverticulitis maintain a healthy diet. Steamed broccoli is the best way to enjoy this vegetable, particularly because it softens the vegetable and makes it easier to digest. MedlinePlus states to cut back on fiber intake if you experience bloating and/or gas.
Eat More: Poultry
Poultry options, like chicken and turkey, are healthy food options for people who need to maintain a low-fiber diet. Turkey sandwiches, chicken noodle soup and grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables are easy meal ideas that provide a plethora of nutrients.
Eat More: Broth Soups
Clear-broth soups can also provide patients with diverticulitis a low-fiber meal option. They are delicious, and they can be soothing, especially when flare-ups and abdominal cramping occur.
Drink More: Water
Hydration is extremely important, particularly if you are taking in lots of fiber.
Water helps lubricate the digestive tract, which helps to break down foods in the stomach and intestine. In many cases, it can prevent constipation. In both of these situations, hydration essentially means reduced risk of irritating diverticula.
Drink More: Pulp-Free Juices
Cleveland Clinic states that juices without pulp, such as apple juice and cranberry juice, are great options for diverticulitis patients who are on a clear liquid diet. These juices can help you stay hydrated and ultimately reduce the severity and frequency of flare-ups.
As far as what to avoid, read on to learn about the seven foods to avoid with diverticulitis…
Avoid: Certain Fruits
As far as what not to eat with diverticulitis, certain fruits should be added to the list. Any fruits that are high in fermentable oligosaccharides, monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polyols can aggravate symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diverticulitis.
Fruits high in these nutrients include:
- Custard apples
- White peaches
Avoid: Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is another food to avoid if you have diverticulitis, as it can be difficult to chew and digest. Upsetting your digestive track is the last thing you want to do if you have diverticulitis.
Avoid: Raw Vegetables
Like dried fruit, raw vegetables can be difficult for some people to digest. Opt for steamed vegetables instead.
Avoid: High-Sugar Foods
Sugary foods are among the most common foods that trigger diverticulitis, which is why most doctors and dieticians do not recommend diets high in sugar to patients with diverticulitis. Ice cream is one sugary sweet that you might want to eat less during diverticulitis recovery.
Avoid: Red Meat
According to Harvard Health, eating red meat is associated with an increased risk of developing diverticulitis. It can also increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer. So, if you’re looking for meat to eat, you might want to try a poultry dish instead.
Avoid: Processed Foods
Processed foods are not healthy for anyone, but they are especially unhealthy for people with diverticulitis. Processed foods, such as potato chips, packaged foods and sugary cookies, only add sugar and empty calories to the diet. They’re best avoided as much as possible
Avoid: High-Fat Foods
Foods high in fat, like processed foods and fast food, can cause serious digestive problems. Plus, they are typically low in necessary nutrients but high in calories.
To avoid high-fat foods, try substituting your favorite fruits and vegetables and eat them with healthy dips, like yogurt and hummus.
Avoid: Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Those with diverticulitis should avoid excessive alcohol consumption to prevent the exacerbation of flare-ups. People with diverticulitis who consume too much alcohol may also develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). To determine what is a safe amount of alcohol for you to consume, talk with your doctor.
Smoking can have serious negative effects on people with diverticulitis, so if you smoke, you might want to consider quitting.
Smoking can progress diverticulosis to diverticulitis, which is the more severe form of the condition. Furthermore, diverticulitis patients who smoke (and undergo bowel resectioning at an earlier age than non-smokers) often have a much higher number of perforations (holes and tears) of the bowel than did their non-smoking counterparts.