Diverticulitis Diet: A Low Fiber / Low Residue Diet
As we age, little bulging pockets may develop in large intestine’s lining. This condition is called diverticulosis. When these pockets, medically known as diverticula, become inflamed and infected, the condition is called diverticulitis. Fortunately, sufferers can find relief by eating the right foods.
Why Low Fiber Foods For Diverticulitis?
A low-residue diet, or low-fiber diet, is usually recommended during the flare-up periods of diverticulitis to decrease bowel volume so that the infection can heal.
An intake of less than 10 grams of fiber per day is generally considered a low-residue diverticulitis diet.
Low Fiber Foods in a Diverticulitis Diet
You may be asked to start with a clear fluid diet at the onset of diverticulitis. After a few days, incorporate the following low fiber foods (less than 2 g per serving) that are mild enough to be eaten during a diverticulitis flare-up.
1. Grain Products:
- Low fiber enriched refined white bread, buns, bagels, English muffins
- Low fiber cereals e.g. Cheerios, Cornflakes, Cream of Wheat, Rice Krispies, Special K
- Low fiber snacks such as arrowroot cookies, tea biscuits, soda crackers, plain melba toast
- Refined grains such as white rice, refined pasta, and rice noodles
- Whole grains, such as oatmeal, oat bran, brown rice, quinoa etc
- Any food products with a “high fiber” claim
- Corn and popcorn
- Fruit juices, except prune juice
- Low fiber, ripe fruit, such as peeled apricots, peeled pear, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, peaches, watermelon
- Prepared fruit products such as applesauce and canned fruit cocktail
- Prune juice
- Raw fruits, including pineapple and berries
- Any fruits with seeds and membranes, such as oranges, kiwi, grapefruit
- Dried fruits, including prunes, raisins, dried cranberries and more
- Vegetable juices, such as tomato juice
- Potatoes (no skin)
- Low fiber vegetables, such as alfalfa sprouts, beets, cooked carrots, cucumber, lettuce, mushrooms, green/red peppers, squash, zucchini
- Cruciferous vegetable family, including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, Swiss chard, and more
- Allium family, including onion, shallots, garlic, etc
4. Protein Choices:
- Tender meat such as lean ground meat
- Fish and shellfish
- Soft or firm tofu
- Creamy nut butter (not with chunks)
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
5. Dairy and Non-Dairy:
- Plant-based milk, such as almond milk, rice milk
- Lactose-free milk and yogurt
- Most juices, except prune juice
- Decaf coffee and tea
- Prune juice
Diverticulitis: After a Flare-Up
If you have been on a low-fiber diet for an extended period of time, your doctor may recommend a daily multivitamin supplement.
When symptoms of diverticulitis improve, you may ease off of the low-residue diet and gradually add more fiber back into your diet. A high-fiber diet is very important in preventing future diverticulitis attacks. As you increase your fiber intake, don’t forget to increase your fluid intake as well. If you have challenges eating a diet with higher fiber content, your doctor may suggest a fiber supplement like Metamucil. In addition, you may also heard from others that nuts should be permanently avoided. In the past, the medical community indeed recommended patients to avoid hard foods like nuts and seeds, fearing that these foods get stuck in between the pockets and become inflamed. However, modern studies really didn’t find such recommendation to be clinically valid.
Alumni: University of British Columbia – Gloria Tsang is the author of 6 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.