Foods to Avoid When You're Vomiting, Have Diarrhea or an Upset Stomach

Suffering from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can put tremendous strain on your body, whether your symptoms stem from an infection, pregnancy or food poisoning. And when you're dealing with an upset stomach, the last thing you want is your symptoms to worsen.

When you've got an upset stomach, certain foods can make your symptoms worse. Credit: fizkes/iStock/GettyImages

Besides noshing on bland, starchy foods like plain toast and pretzels, make sure to avoid these symptom-exacerbating culprits.

Read more: Foods to Avoid When Vomiting

High-Fat Foods

Foods that are high in fat are likely to make your diarrhea worse, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. So lay off greasy and fried foods like french fries, potato chips, fried mozzarella sticks or chicken nuggets when you are feeling sick.

Aromatic Foods

Avoid eating or cooking foods that have strong aromas, like garlic, onions, fresh herbs or spicy foods. You may be more sensitive to the scent while you're feeling sick. Plus, these foods may trigger nausea and cause you to throw up more frequently.

Gassy Fruits and Veggies

Avoid further irritating your digestive tract by limiting fruits and vegetables that can cause gas, such as broccoli, peppers, beans, peas, berries, prunes, eggplant, chickpeas, green leafy vegetables and corn, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Then, once you're feeling better — and no longer suffering from nausea or diarrhea — slowly incorporate these foods, which have such important nutrients, back into your diet.

Dairy

Milk and other dairy foods may make your diarrhea worse, the U.S. National Library of Medicine states. Limit or exclude milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream — or any foods containing these ingredients — from your diet until you're feeling better.

If you consistently have discomfort and gas after eating dairy because of a lactose sensitivity, seek out lactose-free dairy options or dairy alternatives (such as plant-based milk instead of your usual splash of cream in your coffee).

Read more: Which Non-Dairy Milk Is Best — Rice, Soy or Almond?

Caffeinated and Alcoholic Beverages

Avoid caffeinated beverages, like coffee, tea and caffeinated soda. Caffeine is a stimulant and may worsen your diarrhea by increasing the speed that food moves through your digestive tract. Refrain from alcohol, too.

Other Tips

  • Drink water: When you're throwing up and having diarrhea, your body loses fluids, putting you at risk for dehydration. To counteract that, make sure to drink 8 to 10 glasses of liquids a day. Water and clear broth are good options, as are sports drinks that contain electrolytes.

  • Wait to eat: Of course, if you are vomiting, you might not be able to keep any foods down — and may not have an appetite anyway. According to the Mayo Clinic, wait to eat solid foods until about six hours after the last time you vomited and ease into eating again with bland, easily digested foods such as gelatin, crackers and toast.

  • Stick to simple foods: The BRAT diet — which is an acronym for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast — can help firm up your stools and replenish your body with nutrients lost when vomiting, according to the Family Doctor. After about 24 to 48 hours post vomiting or having diarrhea, try eating your normal diet, focusing on fruits and vegetables.

When to See a Doctor

You should seek medical care for vomiting or diarrhea that lasts longer than about 48 hours, says Lindsey Albenberg, DO, a spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association and an attending physician in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

In addition, see a health care provider sooner if your diarrhea is accompanied by fever, feeling dizzy or faint, severe abdominal pain or bloody or black stools. This also applies if your vomiting is accompanied by severe abdominal pain or headache, if you're showing signs of dehydration or if your vomit is red, dark green or black like coffee grounds.

Read more: Foods to Eat With Nausea

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