The diet for diverticulitis should be started with clear, easily digestible liquids such as chicken broth, strained and blended fruit juices, coconut water and gelatin. At the beginning, this type of food should be used because it is necessary to calm the intestine, keep it at rest and prevent or reduce the formation of stool.
Diverticulitis crises arise when the diverticula of the colon, which are abnormal pouches that form in the wall of the intestine, become inflamed or infected and cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and constipation. For this reason the foods to be consumed should be easy to digest and low in fiber.
Once the diverticulitis crisis improves, the diet also adapts from a liquid diet to a pureed diet, until solid foods are consumed again. From then on, it is important to increase the consumption of foods rich in fiber and water, thus avoiding the possibility of another crisis.
What to eat during a diverticulitis crisis
At the onset of a diverticulitis crisis the diet should be low in fiber and with easily digestible foods. To observe tolerance to the oral route, a clear liquid diet should be started, which should include liquefied and strained fruit juices, including apple, pear and peach; defatted chicken broth and chamomile or linden teas. Usually this feeding is maintained for 24 hours.
Once the crisis subsides, the patient switches to a blenderized diet, which includes blenderized and strained fruit juice; blenderized and strained soups with vegetables (pumpkin, celery, yam, okra), cooked vegetables (zucchini, chayota or eggplant) and chicken or turkey; atoles such as cornstarch or cream of rice without milk; natural yogurt; gelatin without liquid sugar and; chamomile or linden teas. Usually this feeding is maintained for 24 hours.
As the pain subsides and the bowel returns to function, the diet should progress to include soft foods such as mashed potatoes, compotes, white bread, low-fat meats such as shredded or ground chicken and turkey, pastina, among others. See in more detail how to make the soft diet. And once the crisis is resolved, you can return to a complete diet that includes fiber and liquid intake.
What to avoid
During the crisis, foods capable of causing further inflammation of the diverticula should not be eaten, so do not eat:
Also, during the crisis, the diet should be low in fat, avoiding the consumption of fried foods, sausages, sauces and yellow cheeses.
How should the diet be after the crisis
Once the diverticulitis crisis is over, it is important to progressively include foods rich in fiber in the diet, so as not to cause gas or abdominal pain, starting with a portion of fruit and raw vegetables per day, and then you could increase the portions and incorporate wholemeal flours and cereals. In addition to this, water consumption should be increased, drinking at least 2 L per day.
Including fiber and drinking enough water is important for those who suffer from diverticulitis because they prevent constipation, improving intestinal transit and making stools softer. When stool becomes compacted in the intestine and takes a long time to pass, it can cause the diverticula to become inflamed or infected and another crisis can arise. See a diet rich in fiber.
Sample menu during a diverticulitis crisis
The table below shows a 3-day sample menu of foods to soothe the bowel during a diverticulitis crisis.
The amounts included in the menu vary according to age, gender, physical activity and whether you have any other associated disease or not, so the ideal is to see a nutritionist for a complete evaluation and develop a nutritional plan appropriate to your needs.
It is also important to remember that, in some cases, the diverticulitis crisis may cause the individual to be hospitalized, in these cases the diet will be prescribed by the nutritionist. In some more severe cases, the nutritionist may indicate parenteral nutrition, i.e. intravenously, to keep the intestine at absolute rest, making recovery faster.