A bland food diet is one that involves, obviously, the consumption of bland foods, but more specifically it means avoiding foods that are spicy, fatty, fried, raw, and difficult to chew.
Bland foods and bland meals are used for patients who suffer from gastrointestinal issues, such as ulcers, acid reflux and gastritis, illnesses such as the flu, and when bouts of diarrhea and vomiting occur.
These diets are also used for patients who have recently had surgery on their digestive tract. The bland diet foods list includes soft, low-fiber foods with minimal spicing and additives.
It should also be noted that despite the definition of the word, bland in the context of this diet does not necessarily mean tasteless.
Your doctor will usually be the one to indicate if and when such a diet should be started, especially if it’s a part of the recovery process after intestinal surgery. Do not start eating normally again until you get the go-ahead from your doctor. When you do start reincorporating more typical foods, do so gradually, so as not to irritate the stomach.
After a break from spicy or fatty foods, your stomach will not be accustomed to digesting them, so take it easy; though it’s a good idea to reduce or eliminate fatty foods anyway, so consider it an opportunity to kick the habit!
Foods to Eat on a Bland Diet
If you have problems with ulcers or your gallbladder, then dietary irritants such as fat and spices can set back the healing process. Bland diet foods for ulcers and bland diet foods for the gallbladder are therefore required, respectively. This type of diet was developed to eliminate foods that increase intestinal activity (such as gas and bowel movements), which may irritate sensitive gastrointestinal tissue.
One interesting and somewhat counterintuitive thing to note about this diet is its lack of fiber. Most healthy diet plans will, to some extent, stress whole grains and an increase in fiber, since it’s commonly lacking in the Standard American Diet, but the point of a bland diet is that the foods listed are as easy to digest as possible. Below is a bland diet menu.
- Low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese
- Ice cream, in small amounts (about half a cup); no nuts
- Cottage cheese; cheddar cheese, and soft, mild American cheese
- Cooked, canned, or frozen vegetables
- Asparagus, baby okra, beets, carrots, celery, eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, peas, pimento, spinach, summer squash, tomatoes, and wax beans
- Fruit and vegetable juices, but avoid tomato juice (and blends containing tomato juice), as they might irritate. Also avoid other acidic juices such as orange and grape.
- Cooked or canned fruit with the skin and seeds removed. Applesauce, canned peaches, and pears are good options.
- Ripe bananas
- Citrus (no membrane)
- Melon (no seeds, and only if you can tolerate it)
- Refined white flour products: breads, crackers, pasta, etc.
- Cream of wheat
- Lean cuts of meat: beef, ham (but make sure it’s very tender) lamb, liver, pork, veal. These can be prepared by baking, steaming, broiling, roasting—any cooking method that keeps the meats soft and easy to digest.
- Chicken, turkey
- Whitefish and shellfish, but prepare by steaming, baking, or grilling. Small amounts of butter are permitted, but don’t use oil, as oil will irritate the stomach.
- Eggs (but not fried)
- Creamy peanut butter
- Pudding and custard
- Broth soup
- Weak black tea
- Onion powder
- Butter, in small amounts
Foods to Avoid on a Bland Diet
- All raw vegetables
- In particular, avoid these vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, corn, cucumbers, green peppers, legumes, lima beans, kohlrabi, onions, parsnips, radishes, raw tomatoes, rutabagas, turnips, and turnip greens.
- Dried fruit
- Fresh fruit
- Anything that is high in fiber: breads, cereals, crackers, etc.
- Seasoned, cured, or smoked meats and fish
- Fried meats
- Strong black teas
- Chocolate and cocoa
- Pickled foods
- Spicy foods
- Potato chips
The foods listed above also count as bland diet foods for diarrhea, so when suffering from bouts of this gastrointestinal issue, try implementing this diet for a few days until your stomach settles.
Tips While Following a Bland Diet
When on a bland foods diet, there are a few other things to observe other than what you put in your belly. The idea behind this diet is to allow the stomach and intestines to heal and get strong again. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of the diet and recovery:
- Eat smaller meals but more frequently throughout the day. This is easier for your digestive system to handle.
- Chew your food slowly and thoroughly. This makes it easier for your digestive system to process food.
- Do not smoke. Smoking is known to irritate the bowels.
- Avoid eating anything two hours before bed.
- After the diet ends, if you don’t feel well after eating a certain food, stop eating it and try again a couple of months later.
- When you drink, do it slowly. Do not gulp or chug.
- Avoid all alcohol.
- Remember, soft foods are your best bet.
- If you can, consult a nutritionist so that you get the most nutrient-dense meals possible on such a restrictive diet.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Bland Diet,” Medline Plus web site; https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000068.htm,
last accessed April 13, 2016.
“Bland Diet,” Phelps Medical Associates–Gastroenterology web site; http://www.westchestergastro.com/blanddiet.shtml, last accessed April 13, 2016.
“List of Foods in a Bland Diet,” Livestrong web site; http://www.livestrong.com/article/194235-list-of-foods-in-a-bland-diet/, last accessed April 13, 2016.
“Bland Diet Food List,” Love to Know web site; http://diet.lovetoknow.com/bland-diet-food-list, last accessed April 13, 2016.