When your stomach hurts, the idea of food can be downright unappetizing. The key is to find foods to soothe an upset stomach, rather than choosing those that will make you feel worse. Even when you're feeling under the weather, it's important to take in important nutrients via food to remain strong and fueled.
There's one exception: If you're currently vomiting, however, stick to clear liquids — particularly beverages with electrolytes — to stay hydrated. Wait until you can keep food in your stomach without getting stick before you attempt to eat anything more than a few bites.
Foods to Soothe Upset Stomachs
There isn't a food to cure an upset tummy, but the BRAT diet is a health care professional-recommended eating plan that stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. The foods recommended as part of the BRAT diet are considered "binding" foods, which means they're low-fiber, bland and starchy. The foods also help increase your consumption of nutrients that may have been lost due to nausea and diarrhea.
Although they're not part of the diet's catchy name, there are a few other foods to soothe an upset stomach. These include saltine crackers and clear soup broths. Comfort food for an upset stomach might include mashed potatoes or chicken soup.
Because the BRAT diet doesn't have all the nutrients your body needs, you should begin to return to a normal diet that includes fruits and vegetables within 24 to 48 hours after diarrhea and vomiting have ceased.
Read more: 10 Foods That Give You the Worst Gas
Ginger and Upset Stomachs
Ginger has long been considered the gold standard when it comes to soothing an upset stomach. A review of studies published in June 2015 in Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care supports the use of ginger for treating nausea and vomiting, whether it's due to morning sickness, chemotherapy, viruses or an operation.
Before you start guzzling ginger ale, check the ingredient list. Not all commercial ginger ales use a significant amount of the herb in its production. For a more effective method of consumption, try making tea out by soaking fresh or dried ginger root in hot water.
Beverages for an Upset Stomach
Stay hydrated even when you have an upset stomach, particularly if you're vomiting or have diarrhea — both of which cause dehydration. Drink clear liquids, which refers to those that you can see through such as water, apple juice, chicken broth and weak tea.
If you're vomiting, and it seems impossible to even keep liquids down, try to suck on ice chips or frozen juice chips to remain hydrated. The American Cancer Society recommends trying to drink 1 teaspoon of cool liquid every 10 minutes after you stop throwing up and gradually increasing that amount to 1 tablespoon over the next hour.
Foods to Avoid
The foods you avoid are just as important as the foods you eat when it comes to soothing an empty stomach. Certain foods, such as those known to cause gas and bloating, can make an upset stomach feel even worse.
These foods, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, include beans — particular those that haven't been presoaked before cooking — certain vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, whole grains, carbonated drinks and foods that contain sorbitol, such as sugar-free candies and gum.
Additionally, fatty foods slow down the emptying of your stomach, according to Harvard Medical School, which prolong the feeling of an upset stomach. When your stomach hurts, skip foods such as full-fat dairy products, fried foods and greasy processed meats like bacon and sausage.
- FamilyDoctor.org: "BRAT Diet: Recovering From an Upset Stomach"
- American Cancer Society: "Managing Nausea and Vomiting at Home"
- Harvard Medical School: "Upset Stomach? Don't Write It Off"
- MedlinePlus: "Bland Diet"
- Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: "Is Ginger Beneficial for Nausea and Vomiting? An Update of the Literature"
- International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders: "Tips on Controlling Gas"
- MedlinePlus: "Clear Liquid Diet"