Diarrhea is a condition in which you experience loose, watery stools, often accompanied with cramps and bloating. The acute, or short-term, form of diarrhea generally is caused by food, bacteria or a virus and lasts only a couple of days. Chronic diarrhea is usually associated with a chronic illness such as irritable bowel syndrome. Bloating is generally caused by trapped air in the abdomen and bowels, produced as a byproduct of the life cycle of a parasite, bacteria or virus. Some individuals experience diarrhea and bloating due to food intolerance or the natural reaction to substances in food such as beans. Making dietary changes can often help relieve this type of diarrhea and bloating.
Drink clear liquids and electrolyte replacement beverages throughout the day. Diarrhea leads to a substantial loss of water, which needs to be replenished to prevent dehydration. The majority of your fluid intake should be water, followed by clear broths and juices, except pear, apple and grape juice -- which can all cause additional stomach upset.
Don't eat foods that are high in dietary fiber. A diet that is high in fiber is usually healthy, but if your stomach is upset, fiber can make diarrhea and bloating worse. Instead, emphasize foods like plain white rice, boiled potatoes and plain toast. Once your symptoms subside, you can gradually add foods that contain fiber into your diet.
Eat small portions of baked or broiled low-fat proteins, such as skinless white meat chicken, lean red meat, pork or fish. According to MedlinePlus, you can also try eating low-fat dairy products and cooked eggs. However, for some people, dairy products can make diarrhea and bloating worse. If you are lactose intolerant, avoid eating dairy products until your symptoms subside, then gradually reintroduce them as tolerated.
Avoid eating highly processed, fatty foods like hamburgers, doughnuts or french fries, because these kinds foods can make your already upset digestive system feel even worse. Additionally, avoid foods that contain large amounts of spices or spicy condiments.
Stay away from foods that contain artificial sweeteners ending in the suffix "-ose." According to the National Digestive Disorders Information Clearinghouse, some people are unable to digest artificial sugars such as maltose and lactose. Some products, labeled "sugar-free" contain these sweeteners, and consuming large amounts can cause diarrhea and bloating, even if you don't have a digestive problem.
If your diarrhea lasts for more than two days, or is accompanied by nausea or vomiting, pain or a high fever, call your doctor. These can be symptoms of an underlying illness or infection that requires medical intervention.