Liquid Diet for Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis can be very uncomfortable. During a diverticulitis flare-up, your healthcare provider may recommend a liquid diet to ease symptoms.

A liquid diet is a temporary strategy to rest the digestive system and lower inflammation in the intestine. A clear liquid diet includes water, broth, fruit juice, gelatin, ice chips, tea, and coffee. 

This article discusses a liquid diet for diverticulitis, including when to use it and for how long.

An illustration with information about a liquid diet for diverticulitis

Illustration by Mira Norian for Verywell Health


Common symptoms of diverticulitis (when bulging pouches in your digestive tract become inflamed) include bloating, cramping, abdominal pain, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and blood with stool. Treatment of flare-ups usually includes pain medications, antibiotics, and changes in diet. 

Clear Liquid Diet Examples for Diverticulitis

A clear liquid diet provides hydration and energy while resting the digestive system. When you follow a clear liquid diet, do not eat any food by mouth. 

A clear liquid diet can be helpful for diverticulitis flares because stool in the colon is aggravating when the intestinal pouches are inflamed. Following a clear liquid diet helps to clear out the colon and allow it to rest and heal. 

Clear liquids include:

  • Water: Drink plenty of water to ensure you stay hydrated. 
  • Broth: Warm broth can be soothing. Avoid soups that contain solid foods (i.e., noodles or meat).
  • Juice: Choose apple, cranberry, and grape juices. Avoid orange juice and juices with pulp. 
  • Popsicles: Opt for popsicles with no added fruit, other solid foods, or pulp.
  • Gelatin: Choose any flavor of gelatin you like, as long as it does not contain added fruit.
  • Tea and coffee: Black tea and coffee are allowed but may irritate your digestive tract.  

Avoid any liquids that are not completely clear, for example, dairy milk, nut milk, vegetable juice, and fruit juice with pulp. It’s also important to avoid liquids that can irritate the intestines, such as alcohol and soda. 

How Long to Do a Liquid Diet for Diverticulitis 

Following a clear liquid diet for a limited time can benefit diverticulitis. However, a clear liquid diet is not sustainable for more than a few days. Our bodies need more nutrition than a clear liquid can provide.

Work with your healthcare provider to determine how long to follow a clear liquid diet. Most people experiencing a diverticulitis flare stick to a clear liquid diet for about one to three days. 

The exact cause of diverticulitis is unknown, but there are lifestyle factors that raise your risk. 

Risk factors of diverticulosis (when small pouches develop in your digestive tract) and diverticulitis (when those pouches become inflamed) include:

  • A diet rich in red meat
  • A high-fat diet
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical activity 

Eating high-fiber, vegetarian foods may lower the risk of diverticulosis and diverticulitis.

Possible Risks 

A clear liquid diet should not be followed for more than a few days because there are risks. A clear liquid diet does not contain the nutrients and calories you need to function. Consuming only clear liquids can lead to weakness. Talk with your healthcare provider about how long to limit your intake of clear fluids and follow the instructions closely. 

If you are following a clear diet for diverticulitis and not noticing an improvement in your symptoms, talk with your healthcare provider if you experience:

Introducing “Real” Food After a Liquid Diet for Diverticulitis 

Once you finish your clear liquid diet, the next step is to move on to a low-fiber diet. This will allow your intestines to continue to heal and rest. 

Foods included in a low-fiber diet include:

  • Cooked or canned fruits
  • Applesauce
  • Cooked or canned vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Dairy products 
  • Poultry
  • Refined white bread
  • White rice
  • Low-fiber cereal

Low to High Fiber 

Once your diverticulitis has resolved, talk with your healthcare provider about moving to a high-fiber diet. Research shows that following a high-fiber diet can reduce the risk of experiencing future diverticulitis flares. Moving to a high-fiber diet should be done slowly to avoid abdominal discomfort or increased symptoms. 

High-fiber foods to include in your diet include:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Whole wheat bread and pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain cereal
  • Oatmeal 
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables 
  • Water 

The goal of a high-fiber diet is to consume about 25 to 30 grams daily. When you increase your fiber intake, it’s important also to increase your water intake. Otherwise, you may experience uncomfortable cramping and bloating. Increasing physical activity can also help to prevent constipation


A clear liquid diet may be used to rest the digestive system and decrease inflammation during a diverticulitis flare. Liquids in a clear liquid diet include water, broth, fruit juice (without pulp), popsicles, gelatin, and tea. Work with your healthcare provider to determine how long to follow a clear liquid diet; do not follow one for more than a few days.

8 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.
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  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatment for diverticular disease.

  3. MedlinePlus. Diverticulitis.

  4. UC San Diego Health. Managing diverticulitis through good nutrition.

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

  6. 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

  7. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatment for diverticular disease.

  8. UCSF Health. Diverticular disease and diet.

By Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH
Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH, is a health writer with over a decade of experience working as a registered nurse. She has practiced in a variety of settings including pediatrics, oncology, chronic pain, and public health.