An upset stomach or diarrhea can leave you feeling miserable. If left untreated, it can lead to exhaustion and dehydration, too, so it’s important to make sure your body stays nourished — but it can be hard to determine what to eat after throwing up or having diarrhea. A special diet known as the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast) is an effective way to treat both.
Path to improved health
The BRAT diet is a bland food diet recommended for adults and children. The benefits of using the BRAT diet to treat upset stomach and diarrhea include:
- The foods make in the diet make your stools firmer. That’s because the foods are considered “binding” foods — low-fiber, bland, starchy foods.
- The foods help replace nutrients your body needs and has lost due to vomiting and diarrhea. Bananas, for example, are high in the vitamin potassium.
Bland foods don’t irritate your stomach. After you have diarrhea or vomiting, follow the BRAT diet to help your body ease back into normal eating. This diet also may help ease the nausea and vomiting some women experience during pregnancy.
You can add other bland foods to the BRAT diet. For example, you can try saltine crackers, plain potatoes, or clear soup broths. Don’t start eating dairy products, sugary, or fatty foods right away. These foods may trigger nausea or lead to more diarrhea.
Things to consider
- At first, stick to sips of clear liquids. Solid foods like those in the BRAT diet are not recommended for adults and children who are actively vomiting. Wait until you can eat solid foods without vomiting. If you have been vomiting or have diarrhea, try drinking a beverage with electrolytes (a mix of important nutrients to keep our bodies hydrated).
- Follow your doctor’s instructions on the types of foods to eat when dealing with upset stomach or diarrhea.
- As you feel better, return to a normal, healthy diet. The BRAT diet does not provide all the elements of a healthy diet. You should be able to start eating a more regular diet, including fruits and vegetables, within about 24 to 48 hours after vomiting or having diarrhea.
Questions for your doctor
- What if the foods in the BRAT diet make me nauseous?
- Can you become constipated by staying on the BRAT diet for too long?
- Is rice better than potatoes?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.