8 Foods to Avoid & 8 Foods to Eat When You Have Diverticulitis

by Ella

Diverticulitis is a common digestive disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when small pouches, known as diverticula, develop in the walls of the colon and become inflamed or infected. While the exact cause of diverticulitis is still debated among experts, diet plays a crucial role in both preventing and managing this condition. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best dietary practices for individuals with diverticulitis, providing a detailed list of foods to eat and avoid to maintain a healthy colon and reduce the risk of flare-ups.

What Are Diverticula?

Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that can form in the lining of the digestive tract, most commonly in the colon. These pouches develop when weak spots in the colon’s muscular walls give way under pressure. Over time, they can become inflamed, infected, or bleed, leading to diverticulitis.


Symptoms of Diverticulitis


The symptoms of diverticulitis can vary in severity and may include:

  • Abdominal pain: Typically on the left side, this pain can be severe and persistent.
  • Fever and chills: Often accompanying abdominal pain, fever indicates infection.
  • Changes in bowel habits: This can include constipation, diarrhea, or alternating between the two.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Some people with diverticulitis experience these symptoms.

The Role of Diet in Diverticulitis Management

Dietary choices can have a profound impact on diverticulitis. By making informed decisions about what you eat, you can alleviate symptoms, prevent flare-ups, and promote overall colon health. The key dietary principles to keep in mind when dealing with diverticulitis include:


1. High-Fiber Diet: A diet rich in fiber is crucial for diverticulitis management. Fiber helps soften stools, making them easier to pass, and reduces the pressure in the colon. This can help prevent diverticula from forming and minimize the risk of inflammation. High-fiber foods also promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which play a role in digestive health.

2. Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is essential for anyone with diverticulitis. Adequate fluid intake helps prevent constipation, which can exacerbate diverticulitis symptoms. Water, herbal teas, and clear broths are excellent options for maintaining hydration.

3. Foods to Avoid: Certain foods can trigger diverticulitis flare-ups or worsen symptoms. These typically include low-fiber, processed, and high-fat items, as well as specific trigger foods that may vary from person to person.

4. Meal Frequency: Eating regular, balanced meals throughout the day can help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent overeating. Avoiding large, heavy meals can also reduce pressure on the digestive system.

5. Supplements: In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend dietary supplements like psyllium husk or probiotics to support your digestive health. Always consult with a healthcare professional before adding supplements to your regimen.

Now, let’s delve into the specifics of what to eat with diverticulitis to help you manage your condition effectively.

What to Eat: A Diverticulitis-Friendly Diet

A diverticulitis-friendly diet focuses on foods that are easy on the digestive system and help prevent inflammation and infection. Here’s what to include in your diet:

1. High-Fiber Foods

Whole Grains: Choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, and oatmeal. These provide essential fiber and nutrients while promoting regular bowel movements.

Legumes: Beans, lentils, and peas are rich sources of fiber and protein. They can be added to soups, salads, or served as a side dish.

Fruits and Vegetables: Aim to include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet. These provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Berries, apples, pears, broccoli, spinach, and carrots are excellent choices.

See Also: Top 10 High-Fiber Foods

2. Lean Protein

Poultry: Skinless chicken and turkey are lean sources of protein. Avoid fried or heavily processed versions.

Fish: Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Grilled or baked fish is a healthier option than fried.

Lean Meats: If you prefer red meat, opt for lean cuts like sirloin or tenderloin and trim excess fat.

3. Dairy

Low-Fat Dairy: If you tolerate dairy well, opt for low-fat or fat-free options. Yogurt with live probiotics can be especially beneficial for gut health.

4. Fluids

Water: Staying well-hydrated is crucial for digestive health. Aim for at least eight glasses of water a day.

Herbal Tea: Non-caffeinated herbal teas like chamomile or ginger tea can soothe the digestive system.

5. Probiotics

Yogurt: As mentioned earlier, yogurt with live probiotics can help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

Probiotic Supplements: Consult your healthcare provider before taking probiotic supplements to ensure they are appropriate for your condition.

6. Nuts and Seeds

Unsalted Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, and other unsalted nuts can be a healthy snack option in moderation.

Chia Seeds and Flaxseeds: These seeds are excellent sources of fiber and can be added to yogurt, smoothies, or oatmeal.

See Also: Nuts & Seeds: Types, Health Benefits & Warnings

7. Nutritional Supplements

In some cases, dietary supplements may be recommended to ensure you are getting adequate nutrients. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.

8. Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, have anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit individuals with diverticulitis.

What to Avoid: Trigger Foods for Diverticulitis

Avoiding certain foods can help prevent diverticulitis flare-ups and alleviate symptoms. Here’s what to steer clear of:

1. Processed Foods

Processed foods are often high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and additives, which can worsen inflammation. Limit or eliminate items like:

Fast food

Pre-packaged snacks

Processed meats (e.g., hot dogs, sausages)

Sugary beverages

2. Red Meat

Red meat, especially fatty cuts, can be challenging to digest and may contribute to inflammation. Limit your consumption and opt for lean cuts when you do indulge.

3. Dairy (if Lactose Intolerant)

If you are lactose intolerant, dairy products can trigger digestive discomfort. Choose lactose-free alternatives or avoid dairy altogether.

4. High-Fat Foods

Foods high in unhealthy fats, such as fried foods, butter, and full-fat dairy, can exacerbate inflammation and discomfort. Opt for healthier fats like those found in avocados, nuts, and olive oil.

5. Seeds and Popcorn

In the past, it was believed that small seeds and popcorn could exacerbate diverticulitis by getting lodged in diverticula. However, recent research suggests that these foods may not be as problematic as once thought. Still, if you have concerns, consult your healthcare provider.

6. Spicy Foods

Spicy foods can irritate the digestive tract and trigger symptoms in some individuals. If you notice a correlation between spicy foods and flare-ups, it may be best to avoid them.

7. Alcohol

Both alcohol can be dehydrating and may worsen diverticulitis symptoms. Limit your consumption or avoid it if you find they exacerbate your condition.

8. Caffeine

Caffeine can be dehydrating, so consume it in moderation and ensure you compensate with extra water.

Dietary Guidelines for Diverticulitis

In addition to knowing what to eat and what to avoid, consider these dietary guidelines to manage diverticulitis effectively:

1. Gradual Fiber Increase: If you’re not used to a high-fiber diet, introduce fiber-rich foods gradually to minimize digestive discomfort. Sudden, significant increases in fiber intake can lead to bloating and gas.

2. Stay Hydrated: Adequate hydration is essential for digestive health. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help prevent constipation.

3. Portion Control: Overeating can put undue stress on the digestive system. Pay attention to portion sizes and eat until you’re satisfied, not overly full.

4. Keep a Food Diary: If you’re unsure which foods trigger your symptoms, consider keeping a food diary. Record what you eat and note any symptoms or discomfort. This can help you identify problem foods.

5. Balanced Diet: Aim for a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from all food groups to ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients.

Meal Planning for Diverticulitis

Meal planning is a key component of successfully managing diverticulitis. Here’s a sample meal plan to help you get started:


Oatmeal: Top with fresh berries and a sprinkle of flaxseeds.

Yogurt: Choose low-fat yogurt with live probiotics.

Herbal Tea: Chamomile tea is a soothing option.


Handful of Almonds: A nutritious and satisfying snack.

Sliced Apple: High in fiber and vitamins.


Grilled Chicken Salad: Load up on leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and bell peppers. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice.

Quinoa: A side of quinoa for added fiber and protein.


Carrot Sticks with Hummus: A crunchy, fiber-rich snack.


Baked Salmon: A source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Steamed Broccoli and Carrots: Cooked vegetables are easier to digest.

Brown Rice: A fiber-rich grain.

Dessert (optional)

Greek Yogurt with Honey: A sweet treat with probiotics.


In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend dietary supplements to support your digestive health when managing diverticulitis. Two common types of supplements often recommended include:

1. Psyllium Husk: Psyllium is a soluble fiber supplement that can help regulate bowel movements and reduce the risk of constipation. It’s available in various forms, such as powder or capsules. Be sure to follow your healthcare provider’s guidance on dosage.

2. Probiotics: Probiotic supplements contain beneficial bacteria that can promote a healthy gut microbiome. They may help reduce inflammation and improve overall digestive function. Consult with your healthcare provider to choose the right probiotic for your needs.


Managing diverticulitis through diet is an effective way to alleviate symptoms, reduce the risk of flare-ups, and promote long-term digestive health. By focusing on a high-fiber diet, staying hydrated, avoiding trigger foods, and maintaining regular meal frequency, you can take control of your diverticulitis management.

It’s crucial to remember that dietary recommendations can vary from person to person, so consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian to create a personalized plan that meets your specific needs. With the right dietary choices and guidance, you can enjoy a healthier, more comfortable life while living with diverticulitis.



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