We’ve all been stuck in the washroom due to vomiting or diarrhea. Most people will just chalk it up to a case of the stomach flu, but more often than not, what you are suffering from is gastroenteritis.
Gastroenteritis occurs when your intestines and stomach have become irritated and inflamed. Is there a gastroenteritis diet to make yourself feel better or relieve the inflammation?
Are there particular foods for gastroenteritis or foods to avoid with gastroenteritis? In this article, we will cover a gastroenteritis diet plan complete with foods to eat with gastroenteritis, as well as foods to avoid.
How a Gastroenteritis Diet Can Help You
How can a gastroenteritis diet help you? Following a diet for gastroenteritis can help ease the inflammation and irritation that is causing your diarrhea and vomiting. The key to the diet is knowing what foods to eat and what foods to avoid for gastroenteritis.
Foods to Eat When You Have Gastroenteritis
If you are suffering from gastroenteritis, there’s a good chance that you are almost afraid of food. You may be afraid that if you take in food, you won’t be able to keep it down one way or another. But are there foods for gastroenteritis? Yes, there are!
There are many foods that may not trigger the stomach issues you have been experiencing, and they may even help settle the irritation and inflammation that your stomach is currently experiencing.
Drinking plenty of water and keeping yourself hydrated is a very good idea, as you tend to lose a lot of water and minerals due to vomiting and diarrhea. If your gastroenteritis is really bad, something to replace your electrolytes is a good idea (e.g. homemade sports drinks).
2. Dry Crackers
Eating a dry, unsalted cracker can help to provide fiber to your diet. Doing this can help with diarrhea.
3. Clear Broth
A clear chicken or beef broth can help give you sustenance without further upsetting your stomach.
4. Lean Meats
Fats in meat can sometimes irritate the stomach. So, if you think you can handle eating meat, try adding lean meats to avoid the fat.
Try consuming low-fat, cooked fish. You don’t want to risk eating sushi if you are having these stomach issues.
6. BRAT Diet
The BRAT diet has been a staple for upset stomachs for years, and due to the acronym, it’s fairly easy to remember. BRAT stands for banana, rice, applesauce, and toast. All of these foods are fairly simple, so they help avoid upsetting your stomach further. At the same time, they can help add fiber to your diet, which is essential to treat diarrhea. This diet is also great for those who don’t know what to eat when recovering from the stomach flu, as it will help avoid flare-ups.
After a period, you should be able to add more foods back into your diet once the gastroenteritis has subsided. With that said, there are some foods that you should avoid while you are suffering from gastroenteritis.
Foods to Avoid When You Have Gastroenteritis
As much as there are foods that can help you if you are suffering from gastroenteritis, there are also some foods that you should avoid, as they can continue to irritate and inflame the stomach and intestines.
1. Fried Foods
Fried and greasy foods tend to be rich in fat, which can keep the stomach and intestines irritated.
2. Spicy Foods
Spicy foods like a spicy curry or sausage or foods that are highly seasoned can disrupt the digestive areas.
3. Sugary Foods and Drinks
You should avoid sugary foods and drinks until the gastroenteritis has passed. These can include things like soda pop, chocolate and candy, sugary cereals, many fruit juices, and ice cream.
Dairy products may not be an issue for everyone with gastroenteritis, but it appears enough that it should be mentioned. You may have issues with digesting dairy products like milk and cheese while suffering from gastroenteritis. If you have the occasional issue with dairy products when your stomach is fine, it’s the best to avoid dairy until you are back to normal.
Caffeine can not only irritate the stomach and intestines if you are suffering from gastroenteritis, but it can also act as a diuretic. If you have large bouts of diarrhea and vomiting, the last thing you need is a diuretic in your system.
The thing to remember about all of these tips is that every person is different. For the most part, these food suggestions are accurate, but some people may be fine with eating dairy and others might have an issue with fruits.
Gastroenteritis Diet Plan
If you are having issues with gastroenteritis, there is a diet plan that may be able to help you by using certain foods for a period and then reintroducing other foods at different points. For the most part, these foods all fit into a bland diet, and you should note that it is a gastroenteritis diet for adults.
The first phase of the diet covers the first days of the illness and recovery. These foods and beverages will help settle your stomach, provide nutrients, and keep the body hydrated:
- Weak tea
- Soda water (some people find the fizz soothing, but not everyone)
- Weak cordial, particularly lemon
- Watered-down electrolyte drinks such as Lucozade, or chemist-specific ones such as Hydralyte
- Ice cubes
- Dry biscuits and crackers
- Dry toast
- Clear, non-seasoned or lightly seasoned chicken or beef broth with the fat skimmed off
Phase two focuses on getting nutrients back into your body once it can hold down food. The BRAT diet that we mentioned earlier comes into play here. The suggestions for this stage are:
- Fruits like apples and bananas
- Plain boiled white rice
- Chicken (gently steamed or poached)
- Steamed white fish
- Thin vegetable soup
- Plain mashed potato or plain boiled potatoes
Gastroenteritis-Related Guidelines to Follow
Most of the information above is geared towards adults, or at the very least, older children. There are a few things that you should try and keep in mind for different age groups.
Essentially, you are trying to keep the baby as hydrated as possible. When feeding the baby (breastfeeding or formula), try feeding them more often but for shorter periods.
Avoid giving children sugary drinks and treats, as well as foods that may upset their stomach (as we outlined in previous sections). Also, be sure to keep them well-hydrated.
The main issue is not to rush things. For example, if your main symptom is vomiting, wait for your stomach to feel relatively stable before eating. Ease into eating, and if it starts making you feel ill, stop and try again at a later point.
Final Word on Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis is terrible to deal with, as there will be times where you feel that you will never eat normal food again or even leave the washroom. Eventually, you will, but it’s important to try your best not to aggravate the situation. Hopefully, the diet in gastroenteritis that we’ve provided here will help you get through it a little better, and get your body back to normal quickly.
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“Foods to Eat When You Have Gastroenteritis,” Gouvernement du Quebec, October 21, 2016; http://sante.gouv.qc.ca/en/conseils-et-prevention/s-alimenter-pendant-une-gastro-enterite/, last accessed July 4, 2017.
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