An in-law has diverticulitis. My wife was interested in finding recipes and learning how to cook meals.

An in-law has diverticulitis. My wife was interested in finding recipes and learning how to prepare meals. Do you have any recommendations or know of how to best prepare meals? Since I’m only the middle man, what foods/spices should be excluded from the diet?

Diverticulitis is grouped with inflammatory bowel diseases. Pockets develop in the large intestines and become inflamed. During acute symptoms, your in-law should see their doctor. Depending on the severity of symptoms, one of the following diets may be recommended: not eat anything by mouth (NPO); just liquids (clear or full); low fiber nutrition therapy (only cooked, refined foods, no seeds or skins). Any of these diets would prevent further irritation and allows the intestines to heal. Your in-law should also see a registered dietitian who can read her medical chart and prescribe the appropriate nutritional therapy.

Diverticulosis, on the other hand, describes the chronic disease where inflammation is not present. A high fiber (20 – 35 gm fiber per day or 1 gram fiber per 100 calories), low particulate nutrition therapy is recommended. Whole grains (bread, cereal, pasta, brown rice), legumes (soybeans, lentils, dried beans, and peas) fresh fruits and vegetables are recommended. Your in-law should also drink enough water (8 cups per day minimum) as fiber absorbs water in the gut and swells, thereby increasing stool bulk. However, foods with small seeds (particulate) like berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries cranberries, etc.) are not recommended as they can become lodged in the intestinal pockets. This can lead to an inflammation and diverticulitis. Any spices as long as they are not seeds (dill, celery, etc.) are allowed.

The real key to health in diverticulosis is maintaining increased fiber that helps clean out the pockets that have already formed in the intestines. Any recipe that includes whole grains, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetables would be desirable. For instance, if tomato sauce with noodles were on the menu, switch to whole-wheat pasta. A healthy eating plan would also include reducing fats and fried foods.