A diverticulitis diet is something your doctor might recommend as part of a short-term treatment plan for acute diverticulitis.
Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that can form in the lining of the digestive system. They're found most often in the lower part of the large intestine (colon). This condition is called diverticulosis.
In some cases, one or more of the pouches become inflamed or infected. This is known as diverticulitis.
Mild cases of diverticulitis are usually treated with antibiotics and a low-fiber diet, or treatment may start with a period of rest where you eat nothing by mouth, then start with clear liquids and then move to a low-fiber diet until your condition improves. More-severe cases typically require hospitalization.
Nutrition therapy for diverticulitis is a temporary measure to give your digestive system a chance to rest. Eat small amounts until bleeding and diarrhea subside.
Your diet starts with only clear liquids for a few days. Examples of items allowed on a clear liquid diet include:
- Fruit juices without pulp, such as apple juice
- Ice chips
- Ice pops without bits of fruit or fruit pulp
- Tea or coffee without cream
As you start feeling better, your doctor will recommend that you slowly add low-fiber foods. Examples of low-fiber foods include:
- Canned or cooked fruits without skin or seeds
- Canned or cooked vegetables such as green beans, carrots and potatoes (without the skin)
- Eggs, fish and poultry
- Refined white bread
- Fruit and vegetable juice with no pulp
- Low-fiber cereals
- Milk, yogurt and cheese
- White rice, pasta and noodles
You should feel better within two or three days of starting the diet and antibiotics. If you haven't started feeling better by then, call your doctor. Also contact your doctor if:
- You develop a fever
- Your abdominal pain is worsening
- You're unable to keep clear liquids down
These may indicate a complication that requires hospitalization.
Nutrition therapy for diverticulitis has few risks. However, continuing a clear liquid diet for more than a few days can lead to weakness and other complications, since it doesn't provide enough of the nutrients your body needs. For this reason, your doctor will want you to transition back to a normal diet that includes foods with fiber as soon as you can tolerate it.
Dec. 01, 2021
- Diverticular disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/diverticulosis-diverticulitis/all-content. Accessed Sept. 15, 2019.
- Pemberton JH. Acute colonic diverticulitis: Medical management. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 15, 2019.
- Strate LL, et al. Epidemiology, pathophysiology, and treatment of diverticulitis. Gastroenterology. 2019; doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2018.12.033.
- AskMayoExpert. Diverticulitis. Mayo Clinic; 2019.
- Dahl C, et al. Evidence for dietary fibre modification in the recovery and prevention of reoccurrence of acute, uncomplicated diverticulitis: A systematic literature review. Nutrients. 2018; doi:10.3390/nu10020137.
- Diverticular conditions. Nutrition Care Manual. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.nutritioncaremanual.org. Accessed Aug. 20, 2019.
- Nutrition intervention. Nutrition Care Manual. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.nutritioncaremanual.org. Accessed July 5, 2019.
- Fiber restricted diet. Nutrition Care Manual. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.nutritioncaremanual.org. Accessed July 5, 2019.
- Clear liquid diet. Nutrition Care Manual. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.nutritioncaremanual.org. Accessed July 5, 2019.