Viral gastroenteritis is often referred to as the stomach flu. It is highly contagious and is caused by different viruses. Rotavirus and norovirus are two viruses responsible for causing the severe nausea and diarrhea that accompanies gastroenteritis. Eating solid foods while sick with this virus is not practical because anything you eat is likely to come right back up. It is best to stick with liquids such as broths, gelatin, water and juice. After your diarrhea and vomiting resolves, start slowly when introducing solids to not overwhelm your system.
Stop eating solid foods until your vomiting has stopped. If you are vomiting frequently, trying to eat will just irritate your stomach and may worsen the vomiting. Eat ice chips and sip clear liquids until the vomiting has subsided.
Prepare e a small snack with bland foods such as dry toast, saltine crackers or unseasoned rice. You can also try half a banana or a few bites of chicken breast. Start very slowly and only eat two or three bites to evaluate how it settles in your stomach.
Wait an hour for the food to settle in your stomach. If your nausea returns, stop all solid foods and return to clear liquids. You can try again with the bland foods when the nausea subsides again. Do not force solids; otherwise, you may start vomiting again.
Continue to increase the solid foods if the nausea does not return and you are not vomiting. Eat bland foods for at least the first 12 hours to make sure your stomach is recovered so nausea does not return.
Add other foods that you like slowly and in small portions. It is still best to avoid fried foods and foods high in fat that could irritate your digestive tract for a day or two until you are sure the gastroenteritis has resolved.
Drink plenty of water and other decaffeinated and nonalcoholic beverages. This is easiest to do if you keep a cup or water bottle with you at all times. Gastroenteritis causes dehydration. Your body may need to make up for fluids lost while vomiting or with diarrhea, so you may still feel more thirsty than usual.