If you suffer from diverticulosis and have struggled with recurrent bouts of diverticulitis, but you don’t want to have risky surgery, you do have an option. With the proper changes to your diet, you can become pain free. And you might even lose some weight and become healthier in the process.
Things You'll Need
If you are currently suffering from the symptoms of diverticulitis (the sharp stabbing pain from swollen diverticuli, you must first finish your course of antibiotics (if you have been prescribed them) and a no/low fiber or liquid diet until the infection is taken care of and the swelling and pain are gone or minimized. Only then can you begin the next steps to make sure your diverticulosis never becomes diverticulitis again.
Increase the amount of water you drink. There is no one set amount of water you should be drinking because there are too many factors involved (environment, exercise, diet, medical conditions, etc). What you should look for is that your urine is ALWAYS close to colorless. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Always have water close at hand. Drink at each meal and between meals.
Decrease drastically or eliminate completely any sources of caffeine or other diuretics (things that make you urinate) in your diet: coffee, energy drinks, caffeinated tea, alcohol, even chocolate. You must be well hydrated to go on to the next steps. And not only does caffeine dehydrate you, it also activates your colon. Anything that activates your colon will cause you pain. This includes smoking. So if you’re smoking, you have yet another reason to quit.
Now, gradually increase your fiber intake. To see where you currently are, keep track of your normal amount of fiber for a day or two. Most Americans only consume about 15 grams a day. Doctors usually recommend 25-30 grams. For diverticulosis sufferers, I would recommend around 60 grams. It sounds like a lot, but as you’ll see in the following steps, it is relatively easy to achieve. But your body can’t take an immediate drastic change in the amount of fiber you eat. I would recommend increasing your intake by 5 grams per day until you get to 60.
The easiest way to get fiber in your diet immediately is to start eating a high fiber cereal for breakfast. I prefer the several varieties made by FiberOne. You can get 9-14 grams in one cup of cereal, and they taste good too. Optimum Power is also tasty. Secondly, try Fiber-sure powder (or another brand like it) in anything liquid and warm you eat or drink. I like to add it to soup, pasta sauce, and especially hot herbal tea. Each serving gives you an extra 5 grams of fiber, and you cannot taste any difference in your food or drink. With those two suggestions, you should be able to up your fiber intake by 20-30 grams a day.
To get your fiber intake the other 30-40 grams, you need to eat raw or lightly cooked vegetables and fruits and whole grain breads. There are delicious whole grain wheat breads out there that have 5 grams of fiber per slice. 1 or 2 slices of toast in the morning, 2 slices for a sandwich at lunch, and a slice with your dinner, and you have 15-25 grams right there. Add a piece or two of any raw fruit (2-5 grams each) and a snack of nuts, carrot sticks, or some hummus and you’re almost there. Put some frozen berries on your dessert or have a steamed vegetable with your dinner and you’re up to or past 60 grams.
If you have had several bouts of diverticulitis like I have, you probably have residual scarring in your colon. Even with all the above suggestions, you still may have pain from this. The final thing you should do is increase the amount of meals you have in a day and decrease the portion sizes of each meal. Ideally you should have three small meals with two snacks (raw vegetables, FiberOne bar) in between meals for a total of 5 eating sessions. 300 to 400 calories in each meal (average) and you have a weight sustaining or reducing caloric intake.
If you increase your fiber in this manner, you will see your diverticulosis symptoms significantly decrease, if not disappear altogether.
If you have 60 grams of fiber per day and are adequately hydrated, you will never become constipated. Your bowel movements will be so nice, you may barely need toilet paper.
Contrary to popular belief, you CAN eat anything with nuts and seeds and popcorn. There is NO scientific study that has ever shown nuts, seeds, or popcorn contributes to or causes diverticulitis.
References and ResourcesLook up the fiber content of almost any food.
Web MD overview of diverticulosis
FiberOne Website for fiber rich cereals and snacks
Optimum Power cereal information at Naturespath.com
Article debunking seed, popcorn, and nuts link to diverticulitis