Knowing what to eat when you have diverticulitis can save you a lot of pain. When infection and inflammation attack your colon, you need foods that are easy to digest. A liquid diet is just what the doctor ordered for diverticulitis.
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Diverticular Disease and Your Colon
Little pouches that form on weak spots of your colon are called diverticula. This condition is known as diverticulosis, and you might not even know you have it. When these pouches become infected and inflamed, however, you may experience abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and blood in your stool. These symptoms usually signify diverticulitis, which may be caused by bacteria or stool becoming trapped in the diverticula, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.
Start With Clear Liquids
Treatment for diverticulitis includes taking antibiotics and giving your colon a rest with a liquid diet. Your doctor will likely start you on clear liquids, which are easy to digest. Consume only fluids and foods you can see through, such as broth, tea and flavored gelatin throughout the day. You may also have ice pops that are water- or juice-based rather than fruit-based, juices without pulp such as apple or cranberry juice, sports drinks, clear soda such as ginger ale, and coffee without creamer. Follow a clear liquid diet for up to four days, recommends MedlinePlus, as it provides few nutrients.
Progress to Full Liquids
After a few days, your doctor may advise you to follow a full liquid diet, which is easier to digest than solid foods. Continue to drink clear liquids. Now you may put milk or cream in your coffee and drink juice with pulp, such as orange juice. Eat strained cream soups, ice cream, milkshakes, smoothies, pudding, custard, yogurt without pieces of fruit, and other foods that are semiliquid at room temperature and contain no solids. A full liquid diet provides more nutrients than clear liquids, so you can follow it for longer than a few days.
Ramp Up Your Fiber Intake
Once you get the go-ahead from your doctor, gradually add solid foods to your diet and slowly increase your fiber intake. A high-fiber diet may prevent diverticulitis, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Over a few weeks, work your way up to 25 grams of fiber daily for women and 38 grams a day for men, the amount recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and cereals, beans, and legumes are good sources of fiber. One-half cup of kidney beans, for example, provides 8 grams of fiber. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily as you slowly increase your fiber intake. Inadequate fluid intake may lead to uncomfortable nausea and constipation.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Diverticular Disease
- MedlinePlus: Diet-Clear Liquid
- MedlinePlus: Diet-Full Liquid
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Total Water and Macronutrients
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Ways to Boost Fiber