Food to Eat After Diarrhea

Diarrhea — often described as loose or watery and frequent stools — is typically related to an infection, medication side effect, food intolerance, foodborne illness or associated with a medical condition. Although certain foods may aggravate diarrhea, fluids and other foods can help support recovery. If your symptoms persist more than a few days, or if you are dehydrated or not able to drink enough fluids, see your doctor.

Bananas are often recommended in diarrhea management. (Image: Buppha Wuttifery / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages)

Fluids

When you have diarrhea, fluid replacement is 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, or can be prepared at home according to standard recipes. 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.

Transition Foods

After a bout of diarrhea, its important for gut health and recovery to resume solid foods as soon as possible. Historically, health professionals have recommended the BRAT diet — bananas, rice, applesauce and toast — in diarrhea management. However, this diet does not have research data to support it's effectiveness or necessity, and is considered too restrictive to support adequate nutrition.

BRAT diet foods do have some benefits, though. They are soft, easy to tolerate and are not known to worsen diarrhea — and can be a starting point in your transition back to a normal diet. So in addition to BRAT diet foods, try incorporating other easy-to-tolerate foods, such as soups, plain pasta, potatoes, crackers, cooked cereal, soft fresh or canned fruits, soft cooked vegetables and tender, cooked meats or poultry.

Resuming Usual Diet

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. Choose a diet that emphasizes 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.

However, according to a research review, at least 10 percent of people who have infectious enteritis — an infection of the intestines that is usually accompanied by diarrhea — develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) afterwards. IBS is characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation, and foods that contain lactose, gluten, sugar alcohols and other substances may worsen symptoms. If you have new gastrointestinal symptoms after an episode of diarrhea, see your doctor.

Warnings

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. 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.

Reviewed by Kay Peck, MPH RD

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.