Once you have been diagnosed with diverticulitis, treatments focus on relieving discomfort and preventing the situation from becoming worse – since there is no cure other than a colon re-section, a surgery most want to avoid. Many health experts agree that the best treatment comes with dietary modifications.
A diagnosis of diverticulitis does not mean that you have to suffer from digestive pain and discomfort for the rest of your life. With a few dietary modifications, you can live a very normal and comfortable lifestyle.
“I’ve suffered with Diverticulitis for several years. It’s painful and hard to live with. Then I tried Puristat’s Cleanse and dietary recommendations. After just a few weeks my discomfort subsided. ” – Jane in CA
Eating after a Diverticulitis Attack
If you suffer from diverticulitis, you know that an attack can come unexpectedly. Attacks can be very painful and even life threatening. A trip to the doctor or emergency room may be required.
Attacks occur when the diverticula pockets rupture. This can cause infection that starts in your bowels, and if not treated, can spread to other organs in your body.
The most common symptom of an attack is pain or tenderness in the lower left area of your abdomen, where the descending colon is located. An attack may include moderate to severe abdominal cramping, severe diarrhea or vomiting, bloody stools, fever and even constipation. If you feel pain or discomfort, call your doctor.
A likely recommendation from your doctor during and immediately after an acute attack is to let your digestive system “rest.” This means eating and drinking foods that are soothing to your digestive system and cause very little effort on your colon’s part. Resting your colon provides an environment conducive to quicker healing.
Some “soothing foods” include:
- Low-fiber breads
- Cooked vegetables
- Cooked fruits
Foods that should be avoided are:
These foods can worsen your condition, especially if you are experiencing diarrhea. Dairy is the hardest food to digest because it contains multiple proteins and amino acids. It is very difficult for your body to break it down, even under normal circumstances.
Return to eating a high-fiber diet when your symptoms have resolved or your doctor gives you the go ahead. As recommended below, you’ll need plenty of fiber to keep your stools soft and constipation at bay.
Basic Tips for Day to Day Living
There are no quick-fixes to diverticulitis, but following certain guidelines will make your condition manageable. Here’s what you need to know:
- Avoid popcorn hulls, nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and caraway seeds. The shells of these seeds are very hard to digest and can aggravate your colon.
- Read labels in bread and cereal products and look for whole wheat as the first ingredient. Whole wheat has higher fiber content.
- Cooked cereals generally have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, a good start to your day.
- Eat your fruits and vegetables dried or raw. Cooking decreases the amount of fiber in them.
- Add kidney beans, pinto beans, bran, black-eyed peas or oatmeal to meat dishes to increase fiber content.
- Don’t peel, puree, chop or process food; it reduces fiber content.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to casseroles and baked goods to increase fiber content.
- Dairy has very little fiber and is hard to digest. Consider adding fruit or bran cereals to yogurt or cottage cheese to increase fiber.
- Substitute wheat flour or oat bran for one-third of the flour in baked goods.
- Eat a variety of high-fiber foods. Fiber Chart
- Use a fiber supplement as an addition to your dietary fiber intake; do not use it as your sole source.
- Increase fiber very slowly; rapid increases can cause painful gas and bloating.
- Increase your clear fluid intake; high-fiber diets require more fluids.
- Listen to your body and do what works best for you. The same meal plan, pill or exercise plan will not work for everyone.
Eating a High-Fiber Diet
The number one cause of diverticulitis is an increase of pressure in your colon. The increased pressure is a direct result of low-fiber diets and constipation. Therefore a high-fiber diet is beneficial in preventing diverticular flare-ups, and it is the number one treatment recommended by doctors.
High-fiber diets help stools become softer and bulkier and make them easier to pass. This results in decreased pressure in your colon. The American Dietary Association recommends 25-35 grams of fiber daily. Unfortunately, the average adult in the US only consumes 10-15 grams of fiber daily.
There are two ways to increase your dietary fiber intake, and both should be implemented if you suffer from diverticulitis.
The first method is through greater consumption of high-fiber foods.
The second method to increase your daily fiber intake is with a fiber supplement. This should not be your sole source of fiber, but is good to have on your daily supplement list. With hectic schedules, we don’t always consume what we should with the foods we eat. A supplement will help balance out your low consumption days.
Some over-the-counter fiber supplements include Metamucil, Citrucel, and Puristat’s Preserve, which is available at discounted prices on this site.
When increasing the fiber in your diet, do it very gradually. A sudden and large increase in fiber can cause painful gas and bloating. Also increase your intake of water or clear fluids when increasing your daily fiber intake. Shoot for ½ your body weight in ounces on a daily basis.