Overview of the Diverticulitis Diet

What to Eat for Better Management

The diverticulitis diet includes foods to eat during a flare-up and during recovery. With a flare-up, experts recommend a clear liquid diet for a few days. During recovery, you will slowly reintroduce low-fiber solid food, like white bread and low fiber cereal, back into your diet over the next few days.

Once you are feeling better, the standard recommendation is to eat foods high in fiber with little or no red meat. However, you will want to add fiber to your diet slowly. You may want to keep a food journal to record what you eat and how you feel.

This article provides an overview of the diverticulitis diet. It explains what you should eat during a diverticulitis flare-up and foods to avoid if you have diverticulitis. It also details how to slowly add fiber to your diet to avoid a painful recurrence of symptoms.

An illustration with what to eat during a diverticulitis flare-up

Illustration by Mira Norian for Verywell Health

Diverticulosis is a condition where small, abnormal pouches develop in the digestive tract. When these pouches become inflamed or infected, it's referred to as diverticulitis. Together, diverticulosis and diverticulitis are called diverticular disease.

What to Eat During a Diverticulitis Flare-Up

During a diverticulitis flare, you may need to give your bowel time to rest. This typically means eating only clear liquids for a few days.

Foods to eat in the initial phase of a diverticulitis flare-up include:

  • Broth
  • Fruit juices without pulp, such as apple juice
  • Gelatin
  • Ice chips
  • Ice pops without bits of fruit or fruit pulp
  • Tea or coffee without cream
  • Water

A liquid diet should only be followed for a few days before transitioning to the next phase.

Low-Fiber Diet During Recovery

A low-fiber or low-residue diet is recommended during recovery from a diverticulitis attack. Also known as a soft diet, foods included in this temporary healing diet include:

  • Applesauce
  • Broth
  • Canned or cooked fruit
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Fruit juice (no pulp)
  • Gelatin 
  • Ice pops
  • Lean poultry 
  • Milk
  • Potatoes (no skin)
  • Well-cooked vegetables
  • White bread
  • White rice
  • Yogurt

Foods to Avoid

While you're recovering from a flare-up, avoid foods that are high in fiber. This includes:

  • Beans
  • Bran and other high-fiber cereals
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Potato skin
  • Raw or dried fruit
  • Uncooked vegetables
  • Whole-grain bread and pasta

When Can I Return to a Normal Diet?

Once your diverticulitis symptoms resolve, you can gradually add foods back into your diet. However, it may take a week or longer until you've returned to your regular way of eating. Your healthcare provider will let you know when and how to resume eating a normal diet.

Long-Term Diverticulitis Diet

After you have recovered from a diverticulitis attack, your healthcare provider will recommend adding more fiber to your diet. Eating more fiber—or taking fiber supplements—can help prevent future attacks.

This is because fiber softens stool and helps to prevent constipation. Avoiding constipation helps to decrease pressure in the colon, which may prevent future diverticulitis flare-ups.

However, when you first set out to eat more fiber, you should do so slowly. Start by eating 5 to 15 grams of fiber a day. Add a little fiber to your diet at a time and gradually work up to a higher daily intake. If you have bloating or gas, reduce the amount of fiber you eat for a few days.

As you add more fiber, you should also be mindful of your fluid intake. Fiber requires water to work properly. If you don't drink enough water, stools can become too firm and hard to pass.

How Much Fiber Do I Need?

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

High-fiber foods recommended to prevent diverticulitis include:

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

Meal Timing

Some people with digestive disorders feel better eating smaller portions more frequently rather than sitting down to three square meals a day.

However, this is highly individualized, and there is no standard recommendation for meal timing with diverticular disease. It may take some experimenting with different meal timing and quantity of food that works best for you.

Customizing Your Diverticulitis Diet

Keeping a food journal and symptoms log is often recommended when first starting a diverticulitis diet. This will help you and your healthcare team see if any specific foods cause symptoms to return.

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.

After giving your body time to adjust to the change, 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.

If a specific food is negatively affecting you, your healthcare provider can help you figure out alternatives to ensure you are still getting adequate nutrition.

Diverticulitis Diet Benefits

Two major factors that impact diverticulitis are inflammation and maintaining healthy bowel movements. Diet impacts both of these, and changing what you eat can help manage diverticulitis or to reduce the risk of developing diverticula in the first place.

The diverticulitis diet helps in the following ways:

  • Reduces inflammation: Eliminating or limiting certain inflammatory foods as outlined in the diverticulitis diet may relieve some of your symptoms.
  • Promotes bowel health: 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.

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.

How Certain Foods Affect Diverticulitis

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.


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 drinks cause or worsen your symptoms.

Beverages that bother some people with diverticular disease include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Soda
  • Wine and other alcoholic drinks

Some people only need to avoid certain drinks when recovering from a flare, while others find they need to always avoid them to keep symptoms at bay.

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.


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. 

If you're prone to constipation, avoid unripe bananas. Research shows bananas that are still a bit green, unblemished, and firm are more likely to be binding due to higher levels of tannins and resistant starch. Instead, reach for bananas that are softer and spotted, which are easier to digest.


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.


Whole grains are one of the best sources of dietary fiber. Choosing whole-grain bread, crackers, pasta, 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.


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


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. 

Red Meat

After you've recovered from a diverticulitis attack, you may want to avoid red meat, including beef, pork, lamb, and venison. Red meat is linked to an increased risk for diverticulitis, though the exact reason is unclear.

Studies show red meat alters the balance of microorganisms in the cecum—a pouch in the digestive tract where the small and large intestines meet. Researchers suspect this may trigger inflammation associated with diverticulitis.


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.

Diverticulitis 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.

  • BRAT diet: This diet generally consists of bananas, plain white rice, applesauce, and toast made with refined white bread. When your digestive system needs rest, eating a diet of soft but nutritious food can mitigate symptoms like nausea and diarrhea while giving your body time to heal.
  • Low-FODMAP Diet: "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.

Diverticulitis Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Doctor Discussion Guide Woman

Living with diverticular disease can be challenging, but modifying your diet is an excellent first step to taking control. Diet changes can help manage your symptoms and reduce diverticulitis 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 and 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.