Can Oatmeal Help an Upset Stomach?

bowl of oatmeal on wood
Keep your bowl of oatmeal small and plain for better tolerance. (Image: seregam/iStock/Getty Images)

Whether it's nausea or diarrhea that's causing your upset stomach, eating a bowl of oatmeal may help. It's not that oatmeal contains some special nutrient that helps you feel better, but it's a bland, low-fat food that's fairly easy-to-digest, which means it makes a good choice when you're having tummy trouble. Consult your doctor to discuss best food choices for your specific stomach ailments.

Oatmeal Nutrition

As a whole grain, oatmeal makes a good food choice no matter how you're feeling. It's a good source of protein and a healthy carb. A 3/4-cup serving of oatmeal made with water has 124 calories, 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat, 21 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber.

If your upset stomach is due to a viral or bacterial infection, oatmeal may offer additional benefits. It's also a good source of zinc and selenium, meeting more than 10 percent of the daily value per serving. These two nutrients help promote immune system health.

Oatmeal and Upset Stomach

If you're feeling nauseated, the bland oatmeal may help fill your empty stomach and help quell your queasiness. If you're experiencing diarrhea as a symptom of your upset stomach, oatmeal may help that as well. The soluble fiber in oatmeal bulks up your stool, which may help decrease your output. However, if you're upset stomach is from an infection, talk to your doctor about how best to manage the diarrhea.

Preparing Your Oatmeal

Keep it plain. Make your oatmeal with water instead of milk, and don't add any fats such as butter or sweeteners such as brown sugar or honey. Added fat and sweets may decrease your tolerance. And if you're having diarrhea, the milk may make it worse, says the Schiffert Health Center at Virginia Tech.

As you start to feel better, you may be able to add some of your favorite ingredients to dress up you oatmeal a bit, such as raisins or walnuts, but go slow to avoid stomach upset.

Other Eating Tips

In addition to the oatmeal, there are other foods you may be able to tolerate with an upset stomach, including broth, plain pasta and rice, dry toast, a plain baked potato, pretzels and salty crackers. Also, eat small amounts of food often, every one to two hours, according to the Schiffert Health Center. You also want to avoid fatty and spicy foods as well as foods that have a strong odor when you have an upset stomach.

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