What should i eat after having diarrhea? Diarrhea is the passing of abnormally loose or watery stools. There are several reasons why this might occur. Diarrhea disrupts the normal balance of fluids and minerals that help your body digest food, absorb nutrients, and control waste products. If you have just been diagnosed with diarrhea and are confused about what to eat or drink after that, then this article is for you.
What should you eat after having diarrhea?
The most important thing to do when suffering from diarrhea is drink lots of fluids or clear liquids. Your body has lost hydration and electrolytes are lost from the body, which can make you feel weak, fatigued, dizzy and cause leg cramps. Severe dehydration can lead to low blood pressure and even turn life-threatening if it leads to hypovolemic shock.
To replenish your body:
- Keep sipping an over-the-counter oral rehydration solution or electrolyte sports drink throughout the day.
- Aim to drink a cup of water after every loose bowel movement.
- Stick to clear liquids, like clear broths, vegetable soup and decaffeinated tea.
The BRAT diet
Following the BRAT diet during this period may help, since it consists of bland foods that are low in fiber and gentle on the stomach, and can also help bind the loose stools. The BRAT diet includes:
- Rice (white rice)
- Apple sauce
Bananas contain pectin (a type of starch) that is beneficial for the digestive tract. Being a rich source of potassium, it also replenishes the body with potassium that is lost in diarrhea. One review article that analyzed several studies found that green banana pulp may reduce both diarrhea and constipation in children. Another study from 2016 found that consuming rice soups along with a rehydration solution was effective in reducing diarrhea in children.
Although many doctors no longer recommend the BRAT diet nowadays due to its low nutrition profile and risk of dehydration, studies have shown that people felt that following the BRAT diet was effective when done short-term.
One thing you can add to the BRAT diet is low-fat yogurt. Yogurt is the only dairy product that can be consumed on an upset stomach or diarrhea. As a rich source of probiotics or the “healthy bacteria,” it can help you to recover faster.
To reap the maximum benefits of the BRAT diet, remember to maintain hydration by drinking lots of water and other fluids.
When and how to resume a regular diet
You can stop the BRAT diet after 24-48 hours have passed and gradually resume a normal or regular diet.
What to eat
Start by reintroducing these foods:
- Rice porridge
- Farina or cream of wheat
- Pretzels or saltine crackers
- Boiled eggs
- Unflavored rice cakes
- Plain pasta or noodles
- Potatoes (no added butter, cream or cheese)
- Sweet potatoes
- Steamed, baked or grilled skinless chicken (devoid of fat)
- Canned tuna packed in water
The Best Foods to Eat after Having Diarrhea
1. Fluids (Plenty of Them)
When you have diarrhea, fluid replacement should be a priority. For diarrhea that is mild and short-lived, a variety of fluids will work, including broth, water and diluted fruit juices. If diarrhea lasts more than 1 to 2 days, an oral rehydration solution (ORS) should be added to prevent or treat dehydration and related complications, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AFP).
ORS products usually contain glucose, sodium, potassium and other electrolytes, and are available over-the-counter in powders for mixing with water, commercial beverages such as Pedialyte or Ceralyte. You can also make your own by following a standard recipe.
If you are dehydrated or have diarrhea that lasts more than 1 to 2 days, seek your doctor’s advice on the use of ORS.
2. BRAT Diet Foods
After a bout of diarrhea, it’s important to resume eating solid foods as soon as possible, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Historically, health professionals have recommended the BRAT diet — bananas, rice, applesauce and toast — for diarrhea management. However, this diet does not have research data to support its effectiveness or necessity, and is considered too restrictive to support adequate nutrition, per the Oregon Clinic.
While BRAT foods shouldn’t be your only source of nutrition, they can be helpful to include in your diet plan when dealing with diarrhea. They are soft, easy to tolerate and are not known to worsen diarrhea.
BRAT foods are also lower in fiber, so they may help to make your stools firmer. They can be a good starting point in your transition back to a normal diet.
Applesauce is often recommended because apples are packed with nutritional benefits, especially after an attack of diarrhea. They are excellent for cleansing your digestive system and detoxifying your body. They’re fiber-rich and contain the antioxidant power to fight infection and promote optimal health.
While apples may be harsh on the stomach, eating applesauce is a great way to ease the stomach and reap all the benefits of apples. Sprinkle some cinnamon in a small cup with applesauce. Avoid drinking apple juice, as it may worsen your diarrhea.
In addition to BRAT diet foods, try incorporating other easy-to-tolerate foods, including soups, plain pasta, potatoes, crackers, cooked cereal, soft fresh or canned fruits, soft cooked vegetables and tender, cooked meats or poultry.
While most dairy products are on the “do not eat” list for GI discomfort, yogurt is a notable exception.
Both yogurt and kefir, a fermented milk drink, contain probiotics that can restore the beneficial bacteria that your body flushes out with diarrhea.
An August 2017 American Family Physician study found that probiotics are highly effective for diarrhea caused by infection, antibiotic-associated diarrhea and even diarrhea from some gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome.
Just be sure to read labels to make sure the yogurt or kefir are low in sugar, as higher levels of sugar can potentially worsen symptoms or diarrheal losses (that’s water and electrolytes) in some patients.
If you’re eating yogurt mainly for the probiotic benefits, make sure to look for The National Yogurt Association’s Live & Active Cultures seal on packaging: It means that when manufactured, the yogurt contained at least 100 million active starter cultures per gram.
Most yogurt brands in the United States contain probiotics, but the organisms must be added after heat processing, so check the label to be sure. If it states “live and active cultures,” then the yogurt has probiotics.
Oats are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps reduce cholesterol, while insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool. Eating oatmeal soothes your stomach, adds fiber to your diet and helps stop diarrhea, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Oatmeal can be calming after an attack of diarrhea; try topping with sliced banana for a nutritious meal that’ll help combat your gastro troubles.
In addition to the rice and toast prescribed by the BRAT diet, simple crackers crackers (like saltines) will provide your body with the energy it needs to recover.
Bland foods like crackers can help soak up some of the irritation-causing acid that sits in an empty stomach and prevent acid being released in the stomach, while heavier foods tend to cause more acid production, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Crackers are also beneficial because they contain salt — important for when you need to replace lost electrolytes.
- Are less likely to trigger nausea because they are odorless.
- Contain salt to help replace lost electrolytes.
6. Broth and Soup
While water is important after diarrhea to prevent dehydration, it does not contain electrolytes. Broths and soups that contain sodium are good picks that can help maintain your electrolyte levels
The best soup for diarrhea? Chicken broth is light, nutritious and gentle on your digestive system. You can buy chicken broth, use bouillon cubes or make your own homemade soup. Any of these will be warm and comforting.
Veggie broth can have similar effects. You’ll want to stay away from creamy soups, which may add more to your troubles.
The Low FODMAP Diet
If your diarrhea is related to IBS, a low-FODMAP diet may help. This diet restricts certain carbohydrate-containing foods.
The acronym comes from the names of simple sugars that are hard for your body to absorb:
- FO: Fermentable oligosaccharides, found in foods like wheat, onions, and garlic
- D: Disaccharides, lactose-containing foods like milk, yogurt, and ice-cream
- M: Monosaccharides, found in honey and some fruits
- A: And
- P: Polyols, found in some fruits and sweeteners
Unlike the BRAT diet, you can stay on the FODMAP diet longer. It’s intended to help identify the foods that trigger your symptoms, so you can avoid them and add back the others on the list above. It’s important to work with a dietitian to make sure you’re getting the right nutrition.
If your diarrhea is related to IBS, talk to a dietitian about the low-FODMAP diet. This diet limits certain kinds of sugars that are hard for your body to absorb.
Diarrhea causes the rapid depletion of water from your system. It also depletes electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals your body needs for many functions.
To compensate for this, you will need to keep replacing fluids. This is true even if you are having a hard time keeping them down.
If you have a loose bowel movement, drink at least one cup of fluid right afterwards. Water is best, but you can also drink a sugar-free sports drink. This will help replace lost electrolytes.
As your stomach gets stronger, you’ll need to increase your water intake. Aim for between eight and 10 glasses of clear fluid per day. Water is the best choice.
Non-caffeinated, herbal teas are great for soothing stomachs. Avoid caffeinated drinks, though. This includes coffee, tea, and soda. Carbonated water may help reduce queasiness, but avoid fizzy sodas or sugary drinks. These can make diarrhea worse.
Resuming Your Usual Diet
There are many foods that can help you recover from diarrhea. But when the bout is over, you may be wondering how long you’ll need to wait after diarrhea to eat normally and return to your standard fare.
A nutritious diet is important during and after diarrhea.
Continue to drink plenty of fluids, and transition your diet back a normal, healthful diet as soon as possible.
Focus on meals that emphasize fruits and vegetables, and a plan that includes whole grains, beans, calcium-rich foods such as yogurt or milk, and lean sources of protein such as fish or chicken — or plant protein, such as soy, nuts and seeds. After the diarrhea resolves, most people will be able to resume their normal diet.
Diarrhea can lead to severe, life-threatening dehydration, so contact your doctor right way if your diarrhea is severe or if it lasts more than a few days.
Also see your doctor if you are dehydrated and not able to drink enough liquids, advises the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Infants and young children are at high risk of complications from diarrhea, so contact a pediatrician if this symptom doesn’t resolve within 1 day, or sooner if fluid intake is poor or urination is decreased, or if you need guidance on managing this symptom in your child.
The #1 Snack to Eat When You Have Diarrhea, According to a Dietitian
Keep it simple and find relief with this snack that’s ready in five minutes.
While it might not be the most glamorous of topics, the frequency and appearance of our poop can tell us a lot about our health. Since going number two is the last step in digestion, we at EatingWell are pretty tuned in to what can help—or hurt—your cause. While there are several foods that can help you stay regular, it can be a little easier said than done. And on the other end of the spectrum, there are also foods and strategies that can help when you can’t stop going to the bathroom.
There are actually specific foods that can help treat diarrhea and settle an upset stomach, and they make up what’s called the BRAT diet. This acronym stands for four foods: bananas, rice (white, as it is easier to digest), applesauce and toast. Typically when we are healthy, we want to focus on including high-fiber foods to help keep your gut healthy. But when we have a stomach bug or are experiencing diarrhea, eating ample fiber can actually exacerbate the issue. The BRAT diet foods are lower-fiber, simple carbohydrates that are easier to digest and can help make stools more firm.
To try out the BRAT diet when you’re experiencing symptoms, start small with a snack rather than a full meal as to not overload your already-distressed digestive system. This is why we have deemed our Peanut-Butter Banana Cinnamon Toast the best snack to eat when you have diarrhea.
When you aren’t feeling well, it’s doubtful that you want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. This recipe comes together in just five minutes, requires zero cooking (minus toasting the bread) and relies on pantry ingredients you probably already have on hand. Plus, it includes two of the BRAT diet foods proven to help with diarrhea: bananas and toast. If you are really wanting to keep it light, you can omit the peanut butter or swap in another type of nut butter if you have an allergy. This snack is simple enough that it is palatable when you don’t have an appetite and also packs in some protein and nutrients like iron, magnesium and potassium that can help your body functioning at its best. Be sure to pair it with plenty of water since diarrhea can lead to dehydration.
What to eat if you have diarrhea:
Eat foods that are high in pectin, such as applesauce, bananas, and yogurt. Pectin, a water-soluble fiber, helps reduce diarrhea.
Eat foods that have a lot of potassium, such as fruit juices, sports drinks, potatoes without the skin, and bananas. Potassium is often lost through diarrhea.
Eat foods that are high in sodium, such as soups, broths, sports drinks, crackers, and pretzels. Salt helps you retain water so you don’t become dehydrated.
Get enough protein. Try lean baked beef, pork, turkey, or chicken, or well-cooked eggs or tofu. This can help you avoid fatigue.
If you like certain fruits and vegetables, eat them cooked, not raw. Some raw fruits and vegetables can make diarrhea worse. Try soups made with cooked asparagus tips, beets, carrots, peeled zucchini, mushrooms, or celery; tomato puree; or a baked potato without the skin.
Avoid caffeinated, alcoholic, or carbonated beverages and very hot or cold foods. They may irritate your digestive tract.
Avoid using tobacco products. They may irritate your digestive tract. Avoid high-fat, fried, greasy, and rich foods. They can promote diarrhea.
Avoid foods that cause gas, such as chewing gum and carbonated beverages. They can irritate your digestive tract. Limit milk and milk products. They may be hard to digest and promote diarrhea. Avoid nuts, raw fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, and bran products. They can be irritating to your digestive tract.
5 types of foods you should avoid eating if you have diarrhea
These are some foods that tend to worsen diarrhea. Mundkur recommends checking with your doctor about what foods might trigger diarrhea for you if you have it chronically (i.e. over an extended period of time or very frequently), individually, as food intolerances can lead to diarrhea.
1. Foods high in fat
Foods that have a high fat content can make diarrhea worse, resulting in more trips to the bathroom as well as greasy and smelly stools. Mundkur says this can happen because diarrhea can sometimes temporarily affect your body’s ability to absorb fat. Fat typically takes longer to digest so it slows down the movement of food through your system; however, if your body is unable to digest fat, food may pass through your system a lot faster.
“Foods with a high fat content should be avoided until gut function returns to normal after a severe bout of diarrhea,” says Mundkur. Some foods to avoid include fried foods, meat dishes with added fat or a high fat content, nuts, and creamy sauces or dressings.
It’s also worth noting that the reverse can also happen sometimes — you may develop fat malabsorption, which is the inability to digest fats, and that can lead to chronic diarrhea, says Mundkur.
2. Dairy products
According to Mundkur, you may not be able to adequate digest dairy products while you have diarrhea, and sometimes up to several weeks or months after your illness. Dairy products to avoid include milk, cheese, cream, and butter; yogurt however is the exception because it’s a probiotic that can help treat diarrhea, says Mundkur. “Plain yogurt is best since the added sugars in flavored yogurt are not easy on the gut during an episode of diarrhea,” she says.
3. Spicy foods
Spicy foods and seasonings can irritate your digestive system and add to your discomfort, so avoid them while you have diarrhea. Moreover, what makes spicy food so spicy going down might also make it spicy coming back out. Therefore, do your rump a favor and season your food with just salt or herbs instead, since that can help replenish your electrolyte levels.
4. Sugary foods
Sugar can make diarrhea worse because it causes the gut to release a lot of water, resulting in loose stools. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, even those with artificial sweeteners like stevia and aspartame, like baked goods, candy, and soda when you have diarrhea.
5. Foods that cause gas
Certain foods tend to cause gas and should be avoided when you have diarrhea, as they can worsen diarrhea and add to your discomfort. These foods include:
- Beans and legumes, like kidney beans and chickpeas, since they are high in fiber and contain certain raffinose, a complex sugar that is hard to digest
- Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, since they also contain raffinose
- Chewing gum, as it can make you swallow a lot of air, leading to gas
- Aerated drinks, like soda pop, since they are carbonated and have a lot of gas