Diverticulitis Diet: What to Eat for Better Management

Bowl of brown rice with carrots, eggs, broccoli, avocado, and almonds

Verywell / Zorica Lakonic

The goal of a diverticulitis diet is to avoid foods that could further irritate the pouches (diverticula) in your large intestine. If you develop diverticulitis, changing what and how you eat can help control symptoms and may help prevent complications from the condition, such as bleeding and bowel obstructions.

If you are just getting started with dietary changes to help your symptoms, following some simple guidelines are a good place to begin. However, it's also important to start paying attention to how what you eat makes you feel. You may notice connections between your bowel symptoms and certain foods—information you and your healthcare provider or nutritionist can use to individually tailor your eating plan.

This article outlines information about the benefits of a diverticulitis diet and how it works. It suggests some foods you should eat and foods you should avoid.

What Is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is a common digestive disease in which small, abnormal pouches in the digestive tract become inflamed or infected. The presence of these pouches is termed diverticulosis. If they subsequently become inflamed, it's referred to as having diverticulitis. The term diverticular disease is also used when talking about these conditions.

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Diverticulitis Diet Benefits

When it comes to diverticular disease, lifestyle habits (including what you eat) are among the only factors you can control.

Each person's body is different, and more research is needed to understand the relationship between diet and diverticular disease. What we do know, though, is that two major factors that impact diverticulitis are inflammation and maintaining healthy bowel movements. Because diet impacts both of these, healthcare providers often recommend diet changes to help manage diverticulitis or to reduce the risk of developing diverticula in the first place.

Following this diet doesn't guarantee that you'll avoid attacks altogether—especially if you make other lifestyle choices that spur inflammation. It does, however, have the potential to help improve symptoms, which means it is a change worth making.

The tricky part is consistently eating in a way that helps manage your condition while still maintaining adequate daily nutrition and calorie intake.

diverticulitis symptoms
© Verywell, 2018 

Promoting Bowel Health

Healthcare providers aren't exactly sure why some people develop pouches in the walls of their intestines. One popular theory is that a low-fiber diet makes it harder to pass stool, which in turn puts pressure on the bowel. Diverticula may form if the walls of the intestine are weakened.

Research has shown that people who don’t eat much fiber (such as those who follow a Western diet) are more likely to have the condition than people who eat a high-fiber diet. Fiber helps prevent constipation, which may be a risk factor for developing diverticular disease, or making existing symptoms worse. Regular bowel movements may prevent symptoms and help your gut heal from acute diverticulitis episodes.

Insoluble fiber, in particular, has been shown to be especially beneficial for people with diverticular disease.

The average adult eating a 2,000-calorie diet needs at least 28 grams of fiber each day. 

Reducing Inflammation

A primary goal of the diverticulitis diet is to prevent inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract and treat symptoms of inflammation if they do occur. Eliminating or limiting certain inflammatory foods may relieve some of your symptoms.

How It Works

There are no hard-and-fast rules for this diet—just guidelines as to what is likely to help improve your symptoms and what may worsen them. You will need to listen to your body and work with your healthcare team to identify what the diverticulitis diet looks like for you.

You might find you feel better if you only eat a limited amount of a particular food or avoid certain types of food altogether.


When you first set out to eat more fiber or begin taking a fiber supplement, your healthcare provider will probably suggest you start slow. Adding a little fiber to your diet at a time and gradually working up to a higher daily intake will help prevent gas and bloating.

Once you feel you have settled into your new high-fiber diet, how long you maintain it will depend on your symptoms, whether your diverticular disease progresses, what other health conditions you have, and additional treatments you decide to try.

You may find that the effectiveness of diet-related changes over time. Age-related changes, for example, can affect your digestive health. As such, you may need to revisit a diverticulitis diet or modify it over time.

What to Eat

Since what affects someone's diverticulitis is individualized, there is no scripted plan that is sure to help you. There are basics that can guide recommendations, but some of this may prove to be trial and error.

Compliant Foods
  • High-fiber foods

  • Apples, bananas, pears

  • Broccoli, carrots, other root vegetables

  • Brown rice

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Oats, rye, barley, whole grains

  • Psyllium husks or fiber supplements

  • Anti-inflammatory foods such as avocado and olive oil

  • Water

Non-Compliant Foods
  • Beans, legumes

  • Bran

  • Brussels sprouts, cabbage

  • Fermented foods

  • Fried foods

  • Full-fat dairy

  • Garlic, onions

  • Red meat

  • Soy

  • Trans fats

Nuts, seeds, and popcorn: In the past, people with diverticulosis were advised to avoid these foods because it was thought they would get caught in the diverticula and lead to diverticulitis. However, research now indicates these foods don’t specifically cause inflammation of the pouches. That's good, as they are very good sources of fiber.

Spices: Ginger, turmeric, and garlic have anti-inflammatory properties, and ginger is a popular remedy for soothing stomach upsets. However, some spices can be irritating to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. You may want to avoid them after an acute episode of diverticulitis. Then start with small amounts and increase according to your comfort level.

Fruit: Fresh fruits, like apples, have the most fiber when eaten with the skin. However, if you’re having symptoms of diverticulitis, look for lower-fiber options, like applesauce. Bananas are another good source of fruit fiber. They also have a lot of potassium and can be especially helpful if you’re recovering from a stomach upset. 

Dairy: If you tolerate dairy, add low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt to your diet. (Even if you aren’t lactose intolerant, full-fat dairy may be harder to digest.) When you're experiencing a flare, especially if you have diarrhea, you may prefer to avoid dairy until you’re feeling better. Lower-lactose dairy products, like cottage cheese, may be tolerable.

Grains: Whole grains are one of the best sources of dietary fiber. Choosing whole-grain breads, crackers, pastas, and brown rice can be a nutritious, tasty, and versatile way to add fiber to your diet. However, when you aren't feeling well, stick to low-fiber foods such as refined white bread, white rice, and crackers until your symptoms improve.

Protein: Lean ground meat and eggs are a great protein source whether you're having symptoms or you're feeling well. You can also experiment with higher-fat sources of protein like nuts and nut butters. However, they might not be the best choice during a symptom flare.

Red meat: You may want to avoid unprocessed red meat, as a study has found it is the main dietary risk factor for developing diverticulitis.

Vegetables: When you're symptom-free and eating a high-fiber diet, raw vegetables (especially root and cruciferous veggies) are nutritional powerhouses. However, when symptomatic, you may want to avoid them. For example, if you're experiencing a flare, a baked sweet potato with the skin may be too hard to digest. Instead, a peeled, mashed white potato may be easier on your system. 

Beverages: Proper hydration helps prevent constipation and helps process the extra fiber you’re eating. Drink plenty of water and pay attention to whether or not other beverages—such as coffee, tea, soda, or wine—cause or worsen your symptoms. Some people avoid certain drinks when recovering from a flare, while others find they need to always avoid them to keep symptoms at bay.

Evolving Your Diverticulitis Diet

If a food is negatively affecting you, let your healthcare provider know. They can help you figure out the best way to reduce or cut it out while still getting adequate nutrition. Talk to your healthcare provider about periodically trying to add new foods (or some you used to enjoy) into your diet. Having a compliant and nutritious meal plan is important for managing your diverticulitis, but so is having a plan you can stick with. With time, there may be an opportunity to add greater variety without impacting your symptoms.

Recommended Timing

When planning meals, you’ll need to think about how you feel as well as the reality of your day-to-day schedule. Some people who have digestive disorders feel better if they eat smaller portions more frequently rather than sitting down to three square meals a day.

You may want to experiment with eating different amounts or types of food at different times of the day. You may also find certain combinations of food work well for you, while others do not.

As you're planning meals and snacks, don’t forget to factor in fluids. You may want to keep a water bottle handy so you routinely sip throughout the day.

Cooking Tips

Many foods are easier to digest if you cook them and, in the case of produce, remove their skins. For example, when peeled and cooked, carrots, potatoes, and apples work well. Eggs can be poached instead of fried, and lean, ground meat that’s cooked until it’s tender can be another protein option.


While making changes to your diet may help manage diverticulitis, these changes can also affect other aspects of your health. If you have other medical conditions, such as diabetes, you may need to modify your diverticulitis diet. 

For example, refined white bread is a staple of a low-fiber diet and can work well if you’re having a flare of inflammatory symptoms. However, if you have diabetes, you’ll need to be aware of the effect foods made with refined flour have on your blood sugar levels.

Certain changes in your life may also require you to re-evaluate your diet. If you are pregnant or nursing, for example, your nutritional needs will change. If you increase your level of physical activity or are recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, you may also have different dietary requirements. 

Before you increase your intake of dietary fiber or start taking a fiber supplement, talk to your healthcare provider. If you have other health conditions or gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), eating more fiber can make your symptoms worse.

If you are managing another chronic health condition through diet, work with your healthcare team to make sure that your food choices help both conditions.

Even if you are otherwise healthy, you might experience gas, bloating, cramps, and other digestive symptoms when you make changes to your diet. The discomfort will usually get better as your body adjusts.

During and After a Flare-Up

If you’re having or recovering from a diverticulitis flare, you may need to give your bowel time to rest. Many of the nutritious, high-fiber foods you enjoy when you’re feeling well—and that are typically beneficial for your condition—may be difficult to digest while you’re healing.

Your healthcare provider might suggest you follow a low-fiber or low-residue diet, or even a liquid diet until you feel better. The same can be said if you are experiencing complications from diverticulitis, such as narrowing of the bowel (stricture) or pockets of infection (abscess).

Foods included in this temporary healing diet include:

  • Applesauce
  • Broth
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Fruit juice (no pulp)
  • Gelatin 
  • Ice pops
  • Lean ground meat 
  • Potatoes (no skin)
  • Well-cooked vegetables
  • White bread
  • White rice

Gradually, you'll be able to add foods back until you've returned to your regular way of eating for diverticulitis management.

Try an Elimination Diet

Your healthcare provider may suggest that you undertake an elimination diet if you have symptoms when you are first diagnosed with diverticular disease. With this, you gradually reduce a certain food or group of foods until you are no longer eating it at all.

Then, you give your body time to adjust to the change and keep track of how you feel (usually over the course of a few weeks). Eventually, you reintroduce the food and, likewise, take note of how or whether it's affecting your symptoms.

Managing the Diet Long-Term

You will need to work with your healthcare provider to determine the best way for you to manage diverticulitis. Other members of your healthcare team, like a nutritionist, may also be helpful.

You will want to take lifestyle, economic, and cultural factors into account as you evaluate your options. If you have other health conditions, you and your healthcare provider will find a way to make sure you are balancing all your health needs.

General Nutrition

A high-fiber diet is nutritious and tends to be filling. When you’re sticking to low-fiber foods or limiting your diet to help manage symptoms, you may have a harder time feeling satisfied .

You'll also want to remember that white bread and crackers made with refined carbohydrates can be high in added sugar. Liquid-diet staples like gelatin and ice pops can also have a lot of sugar. Other than helping you stay hydrated, these products don't offer much nutrition.


Alternating between a high- and low-fiber diet to manage diverticular disease is generally considered to be safe. The amount of fiber most people eat from day to day will vary, even if they don’t have gastrointestinal disease.

To avoid symptoms associated with adjusting your fiber intake, try not to make changes too abruptly. Gradually make changes to give your digestive system time to adjust.

Support and Community

You may find it helpful to talk with other people who have diverticulitis. Online or in-person support groups can provide a space to talk freely about your frustrations and challenges, as well as learn more about how other people help manage the condition through diet.

Talk to your healthcare provider about local resources and ask about researching online groups or message boards. 


Nutritious high-fiber produce is generally affordable, especially when you buy fruit and veggies that are currently in season. Many items included in a diverticulitis diet, such as rice and pasta, can be purchased in bulk—often at lower, wholesale prices.

If changing your diet isn't enough and your healthcare provider recommends nutritional supplements and probiotics, know that these can be expensive. Ask if they can be formally prescribed, as health insurance plans may be more likely to cover them.

Side Effects

If you’re eating a restricted diet while recovering from an episode of acute symptoms, you may not have as much energy as you usually do. You may also notice a change in your bowel habits as you make changes to your diet.

When you start eating more fiber, you may have mild stomach discomfort, such as gas and bloating. If you suddenly cut back on fiber, you may get constipated. 

General Health

During the times you're eating a limited diet to manage symptoms, you will need to make sure you are getting enough nutritious calories each day. If your symptoms make it difficult to eat, liquid nutritional supplements may be helpful.

Your healthcare provider may also suggest you take a vitamin supplement if you are deficient or having a hard time absorbing nutrition from the foods you eat. 

Diverticulosis Diet vs. Other Diets

The diet for diverticulitis is similar to several diets prescribed for bowel rest after surgery. These diets can also be used by people who have chronic inflammatory bowel disease, have an acute gastrointestinal illness, or are recovering from a medical emergency such as a bowel obstruction.


If you’ve ever had food poisoning or your child has come home with a viral stomach bug, you’re probably familiar with the BRAT diet. When your digestive system needs a rest, eating a diet of soft but nutritious food can mitigate symptoms like nausea and diarrhea while giving your body time to heal.

The BRAT diet generally consists of bananas, plain white rice, applesauce, and toast made with refined white bread.

People who have diverticulosis may find the BRAT diet useful if they are experiencing a flare of diverticulitis or are resting after surgery, but the diet isn’t adequate for long-term management of the condition. Eating a very restricted diet makes it difficult to get enough energy and balanced nutrition to support your overall health.


"FODMAPs" are the fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols present in varying amounts in the food you eat. Foods high in FODMAPs cause some people to experience cramps, gas, and bloating. Paying attention to how high-FODMAP foods affect your diverticulitis symptoms may be helpful.

A Word From Verywell

Living with diverticulitis can be challenging, but taking steps to modify your diet is a good first step to taking control. Diet changes can be helpful in managing your symptoms and reducing symptom flares. If you have other health conditions or are not absorbing nutrients properly, your healthcare provider might recommend adding supplements or medications such as antibiotics to your treatment plan.

Remember that everyone’s body is different. The diet that works for you may not work for someone else with diverticulitis. Over time, you may have to modify your diet or make other changes to your lifestyle to ensure you can continue to manage your condition as well as your overall health and well-being. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long do diverticulitis flare ups usually last?

    If diverticulitis is treated quickly, symptoms usually improve in a few days. Sometimes they can clear up within hours.

  • How common is diverticulitis?

    Diverticulitis is very common, occurring in about 10% of people over age 40 and 50% of people over 60.

  • What are the risk factors for developing diverticulitis?

    Common risk factors for diverticulitis include age, being male, being overweight, eating a low-fiber or high-fat diet, smoking, and leading a sedentary lifestyle. Altering some lifestyle choices, such as maintaining a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise and quitting smoking, can help prevent someone from developing diverticulitis.

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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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Additional Reading

By Barbara Bolen, PhD
Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.