Diverticulosis is a condition characterized by the presence of small pouches, or diverticula, in the colon. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, about 10 percent of people older than 40 have diverticulosis. Diverticulitis occurs when the pouches in the colon become inflamed. Ten to 25 percent of people with diverticulosis will develop diverticulitis. If you develop diverticulitis, your physician may recommend a soft food diet until the inflammation subsides. Treatment is necessary to not only reduce the symptoms associated with diverticulitis, but also to prevent complications, such as tears, blockages or bleeding in the colon.
A soft food diet is one that eliminates foods that are difficult to chew or swallow as well as foods that are difficult on the digestive system, such as spicy foods, fried foods and foods that tend to cause gas. Usually, a soft diet is prescribed for diverticulitis when you are experiencing a flare-up and your doctor determines that your digestive system needs a rest so that it can heal.
Although there are general diet recommendations of what you should eat and what you should avoid on a soft food diet, the specific tolerable foods may vary greatly from one person to another. Work with your doctor to develop a detailed nutrition plan that is right for you.
What to Eat
Soft-cooked vegetables, canned vegetables and raw salad greens are permitted on a soft food diet. Soft, raw fruits without the skin, canned fruits and cooked fruits are also allowed. Plain cereal without any nuts or seeds, refined breads and crackers, pasta and plain, white rice are also permitted on a soft food diet. Other allowed foods include milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, smooth peanut butter, soft meats, ice cream, pudding, sugar, jelly, honey and all beverages.
What to Avoid
Avoid hard, raw vegetables and cooked vegetables that have seeds or tough skin. Eliminate dried fruits and fruits with the skin or that contain seeds. Other foods that are not permitted on a soft food diet include whole-grain breads and crackers, wild rice, deli meats, shellfish, nuts, seeds, popcorn and fried foods. Also avoid spicy condiments or foods.
A soft food diet is considered nutritionally adequate, which means that you can stay on it for an indefinite period of time because it supplies all of the essential nutrients you need. The University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers notes that it may be easier on your body if you have six small meals throughout the course of the day, rather than three larger meals. If you experience constipation while following a soft food diet, try adding bran cereal, oatmeal or prune juice to your diet.
Lindsay Boyers has a Bachelor of Science in nutrition from Framingham State College and a certificate in holistic nutrition from the American College of Healthcare Sciences. She is also a licensed aesthetician with advanced training in skincare and makeup. She plans to continue on with her education, complete a master's degree program in nutrition and, ultimately, become a registered dietitian.