Diverticular disease includes two phases: a chronic phase known as diverticulosis and an acute component called diverticulitis. Health care professionals recommend a specific two-phase diet during flare-ups of diverticulitis. The BRAT diet refers to a specific meal plan used to treat general gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea and upset stomach, caused by a variety of illnesses and disorders.
Diverticular disease causes small pouches, or diverticula, to bulge outward at weak spots along the inside of your small intestine. When these diverticula become inflamed during a bout of diverticulitis, your doctor may recommend a two-phase diverticulitis diet. The first phase is a clear liquid diet that allows your intestines to rest and reduces inflammation in the diverticula. Clear liquids include most beverages and liquid foods you can see through, including clear soups, and foods that melt to form clear liquids at room temperature, such as gelatin. As your symptoms improve, you can move into the second phase by gradually re-introducing low-fiber foods into your meals and snacks.
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BRAT is an acronym for the basic foods allowed in a BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. These foods are chosen because they help bind your stools together and reduce diarrhea. Bananas are also rich in potassium, which helps restore the amount of this mineral lost through vomiting and diarrhea. According to FamilyDoctor.org, you can also add other easily digested foods, such as clear soups, boiled potatoes and saltine crackers, to your BRAT diet.
Clear soups without any solid bits of meat or vegetables, including bouillons, broths and consommés, are allowed on the BRAT diet and in both phases of a diverticulitis diet. Once your symptoms resolve and you start on the second phase of your diverticulitis diet, you can also incorporate other BRAT foods, including bananas, plain rice, applesauce and toast made from low-fiber bread.
The first phase of your diverticulitis diet includes only clear liquids, so it excludes bananas, rice, applesauce or toast. A clear liquid meal plan also eliminates added foods, such as boiled potatoes and saltine crackers, that are allowed on the BRAT diet.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.