I was recently admitted to the hospital and was diagnosed with diverticulitis. My doctor said that diet could have helped prevent this. What should I be eating? Diverticulitis is a condition where small pouches (diverticula) in your intestine become inflamed and infected. Symptoms include constipation or diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramping and pain. When you are in an acute attack of diverticulitis, the doctors will likely allow your bowel to rest and you will likely not be allowed to eat (or they may allow clear liquids only like broth, jello, and juice). Once the infection is cleared up, eating a proper diet can certainly help reduce recurrence of this condition. A high fiber diet is recommended to reduce incidence of diverticulitis. The American Dietetic Association recommends that people get approximately 25-35 grams of dietary fiber per day. I would recommend slowly increasing the amount of fiber in your diet. So, for example, if you are not taking in much fiber daily I would avoid shooting for the 35 gram goal initially, as you will likely experience abdominal discomfort, bloating, and diarrhea.

Eating a high fiber diet can be easily accomplished with a little planning and preparation. First, it may be helpful to do a food recall. Jot down all that you ate and drank during the day and look for room for improvement. If you started your day with white toast, make sure you are switching to whole wheat (and make sure each slice has 5 grams of fiber or more). If you choose sugary cereals, choose a brand without added sugar and that is high in fiber (Raisin Bran, Kashi, Shredded Wheat). Lunch could consist of a whole grain based salad (like quinoa) with added cooked vegetables or a nice big salad consisting of spinach, mushrooms, peppers, cucumbers, carrots etc. Try to switch to whole wheat pasta instead of refined pasta at dinner and add portabella mushrooms and zucchini to the sauce for extra fiber! When given a choice, choose brown or wild rice instead of white rice and make sure you are adding fruit as a snack throughout the day. Finally, focus on increasing your fluid intake. Drink at least 8 glasses of water or low sugar juice (like Healthy Balance) and milk to help prevent constipation!

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