Foods to Avoid With Diverticulitis for Relief and Prevention (2024)

Research shows the foods you eat may affect your chances of developing diverticulitis. Certain foods may worsen or improve symptoms, such as abdominal discomfort, constipation, diarrhea, or gas.

Specific diet recommendations depend on your symptoms or if you are trying to prevent a diverticulitis flare. A healthy diet high in fiber can help prevent or manage the condition. During an acute attack, you may need to give your bowel a break by going on a liquid diet.

This article discusses foods to eat and what to avoid with diverticulitis.

Foods to Avoid With Diverticulitis for Relief and Prevention (1)

The Connection Between Fiber and Diverticulitis

A diet low in fiber may increase your risk of developing diverticulitis. If you’ve had the condition in the past or you experience chronic symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend a high-fiber diet. Fiber can help soften stools, so constipation is less likely. It may also lessen pressure in the colon, which could ward off diverticulitis flare-ups.

Some foods that are high in fiber content include the following:

  • Whole grains (high-fiber cereals, crackers, or brown rice)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, collard greens, or green peas)
  • Fruits (raspberries, apples, or dried plums)
  • Legumes (such as beans, peas, and lentils)

How Much Fiber Should You Get?

Current dietary guidelines suggest consuming 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories. If you follow a 2,000-calorie diet, that would add up to 28 grams of fiber a day.

What Foods Trigger Diverticulitis?

There are no specific foods that are known to trigger diverticulitis. In the past, experts used to believe that eating popcorn, nuts, corn, and seeds could prompt an attack, but there’s no research to support this claim. A large study found that consuming these foods does not increase the risk of diverticulosis or diverticular complications.

Is Alcohol Safe With Diverticulosis or Diverticulitis?

Can Eating Too Much Fiber Cause Diverticular Disease?

Although some healthcare providers suggest avoiding high-fiber foods during a diverticulitis flare, a high-fiber diet is generally thought to help, not hurt, the disease. However, adding too much fiber to your diet too quickly may lead to unpleasant symptoms, such as bloating, gas, or stomach cramps.

Digestion Relief for Symptoms of Too Much Fiber

List of Foods to Avoid With Diverticulitis

While most healthcare providers don't recommend excluding foods to ward off diverticulitis, research suggests a typical Western diet high in fat and sugar and low in fiber may increase the risk of developing the condition.

Processed and Red Meat

Some research suggests a diet high in processed and red meat could be a risk factor for diverticulitis. One study found that men who consumed the most red meat had a significantly increased risk of developing diverticulitis compared to those who consumed the least red meat per week.

High FODMAP Foods

Some people find that avoiding high FODMAP foods (fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols), which are types of carbohydrates, may help with symptoms of diverticulitis. Research suggests that a low FODMAP diet could lessen pressure in the colon and help diverticulitis.

Some high FODMAP foods to avoid include:

  • Dairy
  • Foods high in trans fats
  • Onions or garlic
  • Soy
  • Cabbage or Brussels sprouts
  • Certain fruits

Some low-FODMAP foods to add to your diet include:

  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Almond milk
  • Grains (rice, quinoa, oats)
  • Certain cheese (Brie, Camembert, cheddar, feta)
  • Fruits (strawberries, blueberries, oranges, pineapple, grapes)
  • Vegetables (zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, potatoes)

Fermentable vs. Fermented Foods

Fermentable foods are those containing certain carbohydrates (like fructans, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, and monosaccharides) that can ferment in the digestive tract, causing gas, bloating, and other symptoms that aggravate diverticulitis.

Fermented foods are those that have fermented outside of the body (like pickles and yogurt) and contain bacteria and other microorganisms that are probiotic. Probiotics help maintain the normal balance of microorganisms in your digestive tract and are beneficial to people with diverticulitis.

Foods High in Fat and Sugar

Greasy, high-fat foods or those loaded with sugar may prompt inflammation in the digestive system, which could cause stomach pain or other symptoms.

Fried foods and potato chips are examples of unhealthy high-fat foods. High-sugar foods include cakes, muffins, candy, and cookies.

Other Nutrition and Lifestyle Risk Factors

In addition to following a healthy, high-fiber diet, it’s important to drink enough fluids to help soften stool. Try to consume at least eight 8-ounce servings of liquids each day. Daily exercise also promotes bowel movements and may prevent constipation.

Foods to Avoid on a Diverticulitis Diet

While research shows that avoiding certain foods probably won't protect you from diverticulitis, some instances may require you to alter your diet.

What to Avoid on a Clear Liquid Diet

Healthcare providers might recommend following a clear liquid diet to rest your bowels during a diverticulitis flare-up. On this diet, you should avoid solid foods or juices with pulp.

You may consume the following on a clear liquid diet:

  • Water
  • Broth
  • Clear juices (such as grape, apple, or cranberry juice)
  • Popsicles
  • Jell-O

Foods to Skip on a Low-Fiber Diet

When you’re off a liquid diet, your healthcare provider may suggest consuming low-fiber foods while healing. This means you’ll want to steer clear of high-fiber fruits, veggies, beans, and grains.

Some low-fiber foods to consider include:

  • Eggs
  • Low-fiber cereal
  • Canned or cooked fruits without the skin
  • Canned veggies without seeds and skin
  • Ground meat
  • Dairy products
  • White bread or white rice

Summary

In general, people with diverticulitis are encouraged to eat a diet high in fiber and low in unhealthy fats, sugars, and red or processed meats. If you’re having an acute attack, you may want to follow a liquid diet. You can slowly add fiber back in. While there are no foods that are strictly off limits, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider about whether changing your dietary habits could help symptoms of diverticulitis.

9 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. American College of Gastroenterology. Diverticulosis and diverticulitis.

  2. UCSF Health. Diverticular disease and diet.

  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Eating, diet, & nutrition for diverticular disease.

  4. Strate LL, Liu YL, Syngal S, Aldoori WH, Giovannucci EL. Nut, corn, and popcorn consumption and the incidence of diverticular disease.JAMA. 2008;300(8):907-914. doi:10.1001/jama.300.8.907

  5. Strate LL, Keeley BR, Cao Y, Wu K, Giovannucci EL, Chan AT. Western dietary pattern increases, and prudent dietary pattern decreases, risk of incident diverticulitis in a prospective cohort study.Gastroenterology. 2017;152(5):1023-1030.e2. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2016.12.038

  6. Cao Y, Strate LL, Keeley BR, et al. Meat intake and risk of diverticulitis among men.Gut. 2018;67(3):466-472.

  7. Johns Hopkins Medicine. FODMAP diet: What you need to know.

  8. Uno Y, van Velkinburgh JC. Logical hypothesis: Low FODMAP diet to prevent diverticulitis.World J Gastrointest Pharmacol Ther. 2016;7(4):503-512. doi:10.4292/wjgpt.v7.i4.503

  9. Lahner E, Bellisario C, Hassan C, et al. Probiotics in the treatment of diverticular disease. A systematic review. J Gastrointestin Liver Dis. 2016 Mar;25(1):79-86. doi:10.15403/jgld.2014.1121.251.srw

Foods to Avoid With Diverticulitis for Relief and Prevention (2)

By Julie Marks
Marks is a Florida-based freelance health writer with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism and creative writing.

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