12 Foods to Avoid with Diverticulitis

Foods to Avoid with Diverticulitis

When your digestive tract is functioning optimally, you probably don’t have to worry about your digestive health. However, certain conditions like diverticulitis can affect your digestive health, so you should know how to deal with them. 

As you may know, diverticulitis is a type of diverticular disease. The small pouches in your colon, known as diverticula, become infected when you have this condition. 

If you visit a health practitioner and they diagnose you with diverticulitis, you should know that avoiding specific foods can help you manage symptoms. However, there is a lot of misinformation out there, so you should be careful.

The information in this article is general and may not apply to everyone with diverticulitis; dietary needs can vary greatly, so it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Foods to Avoid

Foods to Avoid with Diverticulitis

List of Foods to Avoid with Diverticulitis

To ease symptoms, physicians typically recommend a low to moderate fiber diet during acute diverticulitis flare-ups. Once symptoms improve, a high-fiber diet, including veggies and whole grains, is recommended for long-term management of diverticulosis. In the past, health practitioners often suggested that persons with diverticulitis should avoid nuts and seeds because they could access or block the diverticula. Still, there is not enough evidence to support this claim. (1) 

Below is a list of foods that may aggravate diverticulitis symptoms. You may be able to consume these foods; if you do, proceed cautiously. 

1. Coffee

While coffee is a stimulant, there is no substantial evidence to suggest that those with diverticulitis must avoid it unless it exacerbates explicitly their symptoms. Individual tolerance varies, so it’s advisable to monitor your own response to coffee. However, if you have recovered and received a green light from your doctor, you can take coffee, albeit not too strong.

2. Corn

While thorough chewing is generally beneficial for digestion, no specific evidence links corn consumption to diverticulitis flare-ups. If corn or popcorn does not exacerbate symptoms for an individual, it may not need to be avoided. As a result, the fiber and sugar content in corn and corn-like foods such as popcorn can cause discomfort in the gut, possibly due to inflammation. 

3. Cruciferous Veggies

While some people with diverticulitis may experience discomfort from high-fiber foods like cruciferous vegetables during flare-ups, these foods are part of a healthy diet for long-term diverticulosis. Lettuce, however, is not typically categorized as a cruciferous vegetable.

4. Dairy

If you’ve been diagnosed with diverticulitis, your digestive tract might not handle lactose too well. Even if you’re typically not lactose intolerant, you might experience bloating as a result of consuming dairy and dairy products like butter, cheese, heavy cream, yogurt, etc. 

5. Excessive Alcohol

While moderate alcohol consumption has not been definitively linked to diverticulitis flare-ups, excessive alcohol intake can contribute to overall poor gut health and should be consumed with caution, especially in individuals with digestive health concerns.

6. Fatty Foods

You might also want to cut fatty foods from your diet if you’ve been diagnosed with diverticulitis. Why? Because they can worsen gut issues like nausea and vomiting. Some people might even experience diarrhea symptoms. 

Instead of frying your food, try baking, boiling or steaming it. You should also opt for lean proteins like poultry until your diverticulitis symptoms disappear. 

7. High FODMAP Foods

According to a logical hypothesis, avoiding high FODMAP foods might benefit some individuals with diverticulitis.(2) FODMAPs are short for fermented oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are carbs that may trigger symptoms like bloating and diarrhea. 

Some of the foods rich in FODMAPs include:

Beans: kidney beans, lentils, yellow beans, etc. 

Fruits like apples, berries, cherries, peaches, pears, etc. 

Wheat-based foods like bread, crackers, etc. 

Remember that some of these high FODMAP foods have fiber that a person with diverticulitis needs. So, discussing them with a dietitian before eliminating them would be best. We respond differently to various foods, and doctors are best placed to offer advice. 

8. Meats

Studies have linked high intakes of red meat (beef, mutton and pork) and processed meats (bacon, brawn, sausages, etc.) with worsening diverticulitis symptoms. 

A 2017 study by the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) discovered that if people abide by some recommendations, it could be possible to prevent up to 50% of diverticulitis-related attacks. 

Recommendations of this study included that people shouldn’t consume more than 50g of red meat daily and should consume about 25g of dietary fiber per day. 

Another NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) study focused on males in the United States found that higher intakes of red meat were linked to an increased risk of diverticulitis. The study recommended fish and poultry as alternatives. 

9. Raw Veggies

Raw vegetables contain insoluble fiber, which may be difficult for some individuals with diverticulitis to digest during flare-ups. However, they can be reintroduced gradually as symptoms improve and are an important part of a healthy diet for diverticulosis.

10. Spicy Foods

Spicy foods do not universally cause diverticulitis flare-ups, and their effect can vary by individual. If spicy foods do not worsen your symptoms, they may not need to be avoided. It’s important to observe your own dietary triggers.

11. Sugary Foods

High-sugar and low-fiber foods typically found in Western diets can trigger or worsen diverticulitis symptoms. Some of these foods include:

Candy like fondants, jellies, licorice, nougats, etc. 

Granola and granola bars

Pastries like cakes, cookies, doughnuts, pies, etc.

Processed sugary drinks like energy drinks, juices, soda, etc. 

Sauces: barbeque, honey mustard, ketchup, etc. 

How Else Can You Battle Diverticulitis?

Exercising

Frequent exercise can prevent diverticulitis flare-ups. A 2009 NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) found that vigorous exercise lowered the risk of diverticulitis and GI (gastrointestinal) bleeding. 

Medication

If you have severe flare-ups, your physician can prescribe an antibiotic to help combat the infection, reducing inflammation. Sometimes, physicians will prescribe meds immediately after diagnosing you with diverticulitis to prevent worsening symptoms. 

In conclusion, avoid the foods listed above if you have been diagnosed with diverticulitis. Indeed, some of them might not affect you, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Either way, ensure you consult a dietitian on what to avoid eating. 

See Also

What Soups Can I Eat With Diverticulitis

Liquid Diet for Diverticulitis

High Fiber Diet for Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis Diet Plan

Low Purine Diet Plan

Dr Sebi Food List

Fatty Fish List

Ulcer Diet Food List

Keto Smoothies for Constipation

Current Version
March 1, 2024
Updated By
Guido Forti
October 8, 2022
Written By
Damla Sengul
January 18, 2024
Updated By
Guido Forti