University of California San Francisco | About UCSF | UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco
Search Site | Find a Doctor

Diverticular Disease and Diet

Diverticulosis is a condition in which small, bulging pouches (diverticuli) form inside the lower part of the intestine, usually in the colon. Constipation and straining during bowel movements can worsen the condition. A diet rich in fiber can help keep stools soft and prevent inflammation.

Diverticulitis occurs when the pouches in the colon become infected or inflamed. Dietary changes can help the colon heal.

Fiber is an important part of the diet for patients with diverticulosis. A high-fiber diet softens and gives bulk to the stool, allowing it to pass quickly and easily.

Diet for Diverticulosis

Eat a high-fiber diet when you have diverticulosis. Fiber softens the stool and helps prevent constipation. It also can help decrease pressure in the colon and help prevent flare-ups of diverticulitis.

High-fiber foods include:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Bran, whole wheat bread and whole grain cereals such as oatmeal
  • Brown and wild rice
  • Fruits such as apples, bananas and pears
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, corn and squash
  • Whole wheat pasta

If you currently don't have a diet high in fiber, you should add fiber gradually. This helps avoid bloating and abdominal discomfort. The target is to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily. Drink at least 8 cups of fluid daily. Fluid will help soften your stool. Exercise also promotes bowel movement and helps prevent constipation.

When the colon is not inflamed, eat popcorn, nuts and seeds as tolerated.

Diet for Diverticulitis

During flare ups of diverticulitis, follow a clear liquid diet. Your doctor will let you know when to progress from clear liquids to low fiber solids and then back to your normal diet.

A clear liquid diet means no solid foods. Juices should have no pulp. During the clear liquid diet, you may consume:

  • Broth
  • Clear juices such as apple, cranberry and grape. (Avoid orange juice)
  • Jell-O
  • Popsicles

When you're able to eat solid food, choose low fiber foods while healing. Low fiber foods include:

  • Canned or cooked fruit without seeds or skin, such as applesauce and melon
  • Canned or well cooked vegetables without seeds and skin
  • Dairy products such as cheese, milk and yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Low-fiber cereal
  • Meat that is ground or tender and well cooked
  • Pasta
  • White bread and white rice

After symptoms improve, usually within two to four days, you may add 5 to 15 grams of fiber a day back into your diet. Resume your high fiber diet when you no longer have symptoms.

For more information or to request an appointment with a registered dietitian, please contact the UCSF Nutrition Counseling Center at (415) 353-2291.

 

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Gastroenterology

Liver Disease and Liver Transplant
350 Parnassus Ave., Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 353-2318
Fax: (415) 353-2407

Gastroenterology at Mount Zion
2330 Post St., Suite 610
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: (415) 502-4444
Fax: (415) 502-2249

Nutrition Counseling Clinic at Mount Zion
1701 Divisadero St., Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143-0310
Appointments: (415) 353-4174
Office: (415) 353-2291
Fax: (415) 353-2648

Condition Information