What Should I Eat After Food Poisoning


What Should I Eat after food poisoning? Food poisoning is a big problem; According to the CDC, 178,847 cases were reported in 2007. Foodborne illness can be serious because it can cause death like E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes. The best thing you can do is to prevent foodborne illness. Here are some tips to help you decide what to eat after food poisoning.

Food poisoning


Food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, is illness caused by eating contaminated food. Infectious organisms — including bacteria, viruses and parasites — or their toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning.

Infectious organisms or their toxins can contaminate food at any point of processing or production. Contamination can also occur at home if food is incorrectly handled or cooked.

Food poisoning symptoms, which can start within hours of eating contaminated food, often include nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Most often, food poisoning is mild and resolves without treatment. But some people need to go to the hospital.


Food poisoning symptoms vary with the source of contamination. Most types of food poisoning cause one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Fever

Signs and symptoms may start within hours after eating the contaminated food, or they may begin days or even weeks later. Sickness caused by food poisoning generally lasts from a few hours to several days.


To prevent food poisoning at home:

  • Wash your hands, utensils and food surfaces often. Wash your hands well with warm, soapy water before and after handling or preparing food. Use hot, soapy water to wash utensils, cutting boards and other surfaces you use.
  • Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods. When shopping, preparing food or storing food, keep raw meat, poultry, fish and shellfish away from other foods. This prevents cross-contamination.
  • Cook foods to a safe temperature. The best way to tell if foods are cooked to a safe temperature is to use a food thermometer. You can kill harmful organisms in most foods by cooking them to the right temperature.Cook ground beef to 160 F (71.1 C); steaks, roasts and chops, such as lamb, pork and veal, to at least 145 F (62.8 C). Cook chicken and turkey to 165 F (73.9 C). Make sure fish and shellfish are cooked thoroughly.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods promptly — within two hours of purchasing or preparing them. If the room temperature is above 90 F (32.2 C), refrigerate perishable foods within one hour.
  • Defrost food safely. Don’t thaw food at room temperature. The safest way to thaw food is to defrost it in the refrigerator. If you microwave frozen food using the “defrost” or “50% power” setting, be sure to cook it immediately.
  • Throw it out when in doubt. If you aren’t sure if a food has been prepared, served or stored safely, discard it. Food left at room temperature too long may contain bacteria or toxins that can’t be destroyed by cooking. Don’t taste food that you’re unsure about — just throw it out. Even if it looks and smells fine, it may not be safe to eat.

Food poisoning is especially serious and potentially life-threatening for young children, pregnant women and their fetuses, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. These individuals should take extra precautions by avoiding the following foods:

  • Raw or rare meat and poultry
  • Raw or undercooked fish or shellfish, including oysters, clams, mussels and scallops
  • Raw or undercooked eggs or foods that may contain them, such as cookie dough and homemade ice cream
  • Raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, bean, clover and radish sprouts
  • Unpasteurized juices and ciders
  • Unpasteurized milk and milk products
  • Soft cheeses, such as feta, Brie and Camembert; blue-veined cheese; and unpasteurized cheese
  • Refrigerated pates and meat spreads
  • Uncooked hot dogs, luncheon meats and deli meats

What to Eat (and Not Eat) After You Get Food Poisoning

A nasty case of food poisoning is usually followed by two things: swearing off everything you ate in the past 24 hours, and then worrying about putting anything else in your mouth (for fear it’ll quickly come back out again). 

The road to recovery isn’t paved with starvation, though, so we asked Margarita Rohr, MD, an internist at NYU Langone Medical Center, about what you should be consuming — and what might be a gamble.

Disclaimer: Obviously, if you’ve got food poisoning, your first step shouldn’t be to ask “what can I eat?” — seek medical help, then worry about whether you can still consume mac & cheese.

The BRAT diet

After food poisoning, you need nutrients, so the key is to find foods that will nourish you, while keeping your stomach from freaking out. According to Dr. Rohr, that means eating the BRAT diet. “BRAT” is a mnemonic device to help you remember what foods you can stomach. Spoiler: the regimen is also known as the “bland diet.”

The disclaimer here is that not all doctors agree, says Dr. Rohr: “There isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to back up this method (some doctors suggest resuming a normal diet immediately afterwards), but it is still often recommended.” It’s one strategy you can try to see how it goes for you, and the whole point of following this advice is to get you back on your A-game, eating the delicious foods you actually like without fear.

B is for Bananas

“The most important thing to do during and after food poisoning is to maintain hydration and replace electrolytes,” says Dr. Rohr. Electrolytes are the magic ingredients in the Gatorade you’re chugging in hopes of curing a hangover. Potassium and sodium are the main ones your body needs, and they work together to help your body retain water for optimal hydration. Dr. Rohr specifically recommends bananas, saltines, and some broth — potassium, sodium, and water, all in one sub-par (but therapeutic) meal.

R is for Rice

You know how we always tell you to choose whole grains, and how you keep feeling a tinge of guilt when you get normal, delicious white rice with your Thai curry while your friend across the table asks for brown? (The brown rice costs a dollar more, so that’s an excuse, right?!) Food poisoning is your free pass to forget about the brown rice! It’s pretty high in fiber, which is usually super healthy, but harder for your stomach to digest, so it’s white rice all the way. Dr. Rohr says that you can also substitute pasta here, provided it’s sauceless. Sorry.

A is for Applesauce

If you can’t do an apple a day, maybe a cup of applesauce can keep the doctor from having to come back? Same story with the fiber here — applesauce contains less fiber than whole apples, which usually makes apples a better choice, but not when you’re dealing with an upset stomach. Basically, feed yourself like a baby. With applesauce, you’re getting something that’s good for you in the easiest-to-digest way possible. Plus, applesauce contains pectin, and that can help with diarrhea (which you’re no doubt intimately familiar with at this point).

T is for Toast

White toast, as well as saltines, as Dr. Rohr suggests, are among the simplest foods for your stomach to handle. If you’ve come down with food poisoning because you were being adventurous with the food experiences while traveling, what you can eat “all depends on location, how remote your destination is, and what kind of food is available,” says Dr. Rohr. “In most countries, you will have access to carbs.”

Diet Chart

Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)Carrot Soup (1 cup)
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)Grapes (1/2 cup)
Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)Mashed Khichdi (1/2 cup)
Evening (4:00-4:30PM)Custard (1/2 cup)
Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)Boiled Vegetable Puree (1/2 cup)
Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)Beetroot n Peas Soup (1 cup)
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)Papaya (1/2 cup)
Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)Mashed Khichdi (1/2 cup)
Evening (4:00-4:30PM)Custard (1/2 cup)
Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)Boiled Vegetable Puree (1/2 cup)
Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)Masoor Daal Soup (1 cup)
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)Yoghurt (1/2 cup)
Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)Mashed Khichdi (1/2 cup)
Evening (4:00-4:30PM)Custard (1/2 cup)
Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)Boiled Vegetable Puree (1/2 cup)
Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)Carrot Soup (1 cup)
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)Tender Coconut Water (1 glass)
Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)Mashed Khichdi (1/2 cup)
Evening (4:00-4:30PM)Custard (1/2 cup)
Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)Boiled Vegetable Puree (1/2 cup)
Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)Beetroot n Peas Soup (1 cup)
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)Grapes (1/2 cup)
Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)Mashed Khichdi (1/2 cup)
Evening (4:00-4:30PM)Custard (1/2 cup)
Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)Boiled Vegetable Puree (1/2 cup)
Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)Masoor Daal Soup (1 cup)
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)Papaya (1/2 cup)
Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)Mashed Khichdi (1/2 cup)
Evening (4:00-4:30PM)Custard (1/2 cup)
Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)Boiled Vegetable Puree (1/2 cup)
Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)Veg Soup (1 cup)
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30AM)Yoghurt (1/2 cup)
Lunch (2:00-2:30PM)Mashed Khichdi (1/2 cup)
Evening (4:00-4:30PM)Custard (1/2 cup)
Dinner (8:00-8:30PM)Boiled Vegetable Puree (1/2 cup)

Foods to avoid

Food poisoning often irritates and inflames the stomach and intestines. Consequently, after food poisoning, people may choose to eat foods that do not overstimulate the stomach and are not likely to a cause stomach upset.

Examples of foods to avoid are:

Dairy foods

Dairy foods such as cheese, ice cream, and yogurt can upset the stomach after food poisoning. So, people may want to avoid them in favor of hydrating beverages and less-irritating foods.

High-fat foods

Fried foods such as fried chicken, french fries, and other high-fat items can all cause rapid emptying of the stomach and worsening diarrhea-related symptoms.

Spicy foods

Spicy foods that people prepare with hot peppers can irritate the stomach and result in a stomach upset.

Foods that cause bloating

A person may also wish to avoid foods rich in fermentable carbohydrates. Nutritionists call these FODMAPs, and they can cause bloating in those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). While few researchers have studied reducing FODMAPs to help with food poisoning, doing so may reduce gas, bloating, or cramping.

Examples of foods rich in FODMAPs include:

  • apples
  • beans
  • cabbage
  • onions
  • garlic

Drinks to avoid

Many people may consider electrolyte-containing beverages a good alternative to oral rehydration solutions. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) caution against using electrolyte beverages, such as Gatorade or Powerade, because they are not designed to replace diarrhea-related losses.

These drinks can also contain high amounts of sugar, which can be stimulating to the bowels and could worsen symptoms.

If these drink types are all that a person has available, they should dilute them with water.

Other drinks to avoid include:

  • coffee
  • dark sodas
  • milk
  • caffeinated tea

These drinks can affect a person’s hydration status and be more dehydrating than hydrating. In the case of milk, some people develop a temporary lactose intolerance after a gastrointestinal infection and may experience symptoms when drinking it.

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