Diverticular Disease Diet

Diverticular disease occurs when pouches, called diverticula, form in your colon. You may be asked to either increase or decrease the fiber in your diet to treat different phases of this condition.

Acute Phase (Diverticul-itis)

Diet: Low fiber (less than 20 grams per day)
If diverticula become inflamed (often called diverticula flare up), a low-fiber diet may be prescribed to all the inflamed area to heal. Once the area begins to heal, fiber should slowly be added back into the diet to allow the digestive tract to adjust to the additional fiber. Be sure to check with your physician at your follow-up appointment for guidelines on continuing this diet and when to transition to a high-fiber diet.

Food Groups Allowed Avoid
Milk & Milk Products Milk: whole, 2%, 1%, skim, chocolate and buttermilk
Cheese, cottage cheese
Half & half
Yogurt (no seeds)
Cheeses with nuts or seeds
Fruited yogurt with seeds, peel rind or nuts
Meat & Meat Substitutes Tender, ground or well-cooked meats: beef, lamb, ham, pork, poultry, veal, fish, seafood, organ meats
Fried foods, as tolerated
Tough, fibrous meats with gristle
Peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
Cheese with nuts or seeds
Lunch meat (in casings)
Dried peas and beans
(limit to 3 servings per day;
1 serving = 1/2 cup)
Most stained fruit juices
Canned and well-cooked fruits: applesauce, peeled apricots, Mandarin oranges, peeled peaches, peeled pears (no-skin on fruits)
Fresh: avocado, banana, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, peeled nectarine, peeled peach, seedless watermelon (Caution: melon can be gas-forming)
Prune juice
Dried fruits
Pineapple, grapefruit, or orange sections
Other fruits not listed on the “allowed” list
(limit 2 servings per day;
1 serving = 1/2 cup)
Strained vegetable juices
Canned and well-cooked vegetables:
Asparagus tips, beets, green beans, pumpkin and soft winter squash, sweet potatoes, plain tomato sauce or tomato puree, peeled white potatoes
ALL raw vegetables;
Canned or frozen vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kale, lettuce alfalfa sprouts, spinach, mixed greens, celery, corn, summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, eggplant, green peas, green peppers, mustard greens, onions, turnips, whole tomatoes, and other vegetables not listed on the “allowed” list
Breads, Cereals, Starches Products made from refined flour and grains, such as: white bread, bagels, crackers, crepes, white dinner rolls, breakfast rolls, French toast, Melba toast, pancakes, pasta, white rice, waffles
Refined cooked cereals, such as: Cream of Rice or Wheat, farina, Malt-O-Meal
Dry cereals, such as: Cornflakes, puffed rice, Rice Krispies, Special K
Beverages containing fiber or pulp, such as orange juice and grapefruit juice
Desserts Plain cakes, cookies, pudding and custard, gelatin (Jell-O), cream pie, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, fruit ice, popsicles, hard candy, and other desserts made from allowed ingredients Desserts made with nuts, seeds, whole-grain flours, jam, coconut, dried fruits or other foods not listed on the “allowed” list
Fats & Oils Butter and margarine, plain cream cheese, gravy, mayonnaise, smooth salad dressings, plain sour cream, vegetable oils, sauces made from allowed ingredients. Peanut butter, seeds, nuts and olives
Salad dressings that are highly spiced or flavored, or ones that contain pickles or raw vegetables.
Beverages Coffee (regular and decaf), carbonated beverages, fruit-flavored drinks, tea. Beverages containing fiber or pulp, such as orange or grapefruit juices.

Maintenance Phase (Diverticul-osis)

Diet: High fiber (20-35 grams of fiber per day)
To help prevent attacks of diverticulitis, a high-fiber diet is recommended. A diet that is rich in fiber may help prevent constipation and reduce pressure on the digestive tract by allowing waste to pass more quickly through the colon. A fiber supplement, such as Metamucil, Citrucel or Benefiber, may be used to provide added fiber.

Food Groups Foods to Emphasize Foods to Decrease
Meat & Meat Substitutes Vegetable meat and alternatives
All beans, peas, nuts* and seeds
(3 servings per day;
1 serving = 1/2 cup)
Raw vegetables: alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, green onions, green peppers, radishes, salad greens, tomatoes, zucchini

Cooked vegetables: beans, baked beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes with skin, rutabagas, turnips, zucchini, and other cooked legumes

(2 to 4 servings per day;
1 serving = 1/2 cup)
Fresh, frozen and dried fruits, especially apples, avocados, berries, dates, figs, fresh grapefruit and orange sections, grapes, guavas, kumquats, peaches, pears, pineapple, prunes and rhubarb None
Breads, Cereals, Starches & Desserts Whole-grain products, such as those containing bran, nuts*, seeds and dried fruits
Oatmeal, oat bran and bran cereals
Decreased use of refined cereals, refined flour products and concentrated sweets

* Seeds, nuts and popcorn may cause distress in some cases but have not been proven to cause diverticulitis.

Additional Consideration: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent and treat constipation.