- Low-fiber diet
- Low Fiber/Low Residue Diet
- Nutrition Facts
- Special Considerations
- Food Groups
- Sample Menu
- What Is a ‘Low-Residue’ Diet, and Can It Help Treat Crohn’s Disease?
- How Food Can Help with Crohn’s Disease
- Crohn’s Disease Diet: Fiber vs. Residue
- What Do You Eat on a Low-Fiber or Low-Residue Diet?
- Do Low-Fiber and Low-Residue Diets for Crohn’s Disease Work?
- What to Eat During Crohn’s Flares: Low-Roughage Diet
- Keep Reading
- What Is the BRAT Diet?
- How to Follow It
- How BRAT Works (Potential Benefits)
- Is It Effective and Safe? (Risks and Side Effects)
Fiber is a substance found in plants. Dietary fiber, the kind you eat, is found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. When you are on a low-fiber diet, you will eat foods that do not have much fiber and are easy to digest.
Fiber restricted diet; Crohn disease – low fiber diet; Ulcerative colitis – low fiber diet; Surgery – low fiber diet
Why You Need This Diet
Eating low-fiber foods helps slow your bowel movements. This helps decrease diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Your doctor may recommend that you follow a low-fiber diet when you have a flare-up of:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn disease
- Ulcerative colitis
Sometimes people are put on this diet temporarily after certain kinds of gut surgery, such as an ileostomy or colostomy.
You may need to follow this diet only for a short time to give your bowel a rest. Or, you may need to stay on the diet longer. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian for help with meal planning.
What You Can Eat and Drink
A low-fiber diet can include foods you are used to eating, like cooked vegetables, fruits, white breads, and meats. It does NOT include foods that are higher in fiber or cause gas such as:
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains
- Many raw vegetables and fruits or their juices
- Fruit and vegetable skins
- Nuts and seeds
- The connective tissues of meats
This diet can provide your body’s needed:
- Vitamins and minerals
Your doctor or dietitian will likely tell you not to eat more than a certain number of grams of fiber a day, such as 10 to 15 grams (g).
Below are some of the foods recommended for a low-fiber diet. It is still possible for some of these foods to upset your system. Talk to your doctor or dietitian if a food is making your problem worse.
- You may have yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, milk, pudding, creamy soup, or 1.5 ounces (43 g) of hard cheese. If you are lactose intolerant, use lactose-free products.
- Avoid milk products with nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, or granola added to them.
Breads and grains:
- You may have refined white breads, dry cereals (such as puffed rice, corn flakes), farina, white pasta, and crackers. Make sure these foods have less than 2 grams of fiber per serving.
- DO NOT eat whole-grain breads, crackers, cereals, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, barley, oats, or popcorn.
Vegetables: You may eat these vegetables raw:
- Lettuce (shredded, in small quantities at first)
- Cucumbers (without seeds or skin)
You can eat these vegetables if they are well-cooked or canned (without seeds). You can also drink juices made from them if they do not contain seeds or pulp:
- Yellow squash (without seeds)
- Potatoes, without skin
- Green beans
- Wax beans
DO NOT eat any vegetable that is not on the list above. DO NOT eat vegetables raw that are okay to eat cooked. DO NOT eat fried vegetables. Avoid vegetables and sauces with seeds.
- You may have fruit juices without pulp and many canned fruits or fruit sauces, such as applesauce. Avoid fruits canned in heavy syrup.
- Raw fruits you can have are very ripe apricots, bananas and cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, nectarines, papayas, peaches, and plums. Avoid all other raw fruit.
- Avoid canned and raw pineapple, fresh figs, berries, all dried fruits, fruit seeds, and prunes and prune juice.
- You may eat cooked meat, fish, poultry, eggs, smooth peanut butter, and tofu. Make sure your meats are tender and soft, not chewy with gristle.
- Avoid deli meats, hot dogs, sausage, crunchy peanut butter, nuts, beans, tempeh, and peas.
Fats, oils, and sauces:
- You may eat butter, margarine, oils, mayonnaise, whipped cream, and smooth sauces and dressings.
- Smooth condiments are OK.
- Don’t eat very spicy or acidic foods and dressings.
- Avoid chunky relishes and pickles.
- Don’t eat deep-fried foods.
Other foods and drinks:
- Don’t eat desserts that have nuts, coconut, or fruits that are not OK to eat.
- Make sure you are drinking enough fluids, particularly if you are having diarrhea.
- Your doctor or dietitian will likely recommend that you also avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Keep in Mind
Choose foods that are lower in fat and added sugar when following a low-fiber diet.
Because this diet does not have the variety of foods that your body normally needs to stay healthy, you may have to take supplements, such as a multi-vitamin. Check with your doctor or dietitian.
Katz DL, Friedman RSC, Lucan SC. Diet and common gastrointestinal problems. In: Katz DL, Friedman RSC, Lucan SC, eds. Nutrition in Clinical Practice: A Comprehensive, Evidence-Based Manual for the Practitioner. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Health; 2015:chap 18.
Review Date: 7/14/2018
Reviewed By: Emily Wax, RD, CNSC, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Low Fiber/Low Residue Diet
Dietary fiber is the undigestible part of plants that maintains the structure of the plant. Dietary fiber includes cellulose, hemicellulose, polysaccharides, pectins, gums, mucilages, and lignins. Although they are chemically unrelated, they all resist digestion by the human body. It is this resistance that makes these fibers important in both the normal functioning and in disorders of the large intestine or colon.
In certain medical conditions, it is important to restrict fiber. These include acute or subacute diverticulitis, and the acute phases of certain inflammatory conditions of the bowel – ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. After some types of intestinal surgery, a low fiber/low residue diet may be used as a transition to a regular diet. A low fiber diet may also be used for a period of time after a colostomy or ileostomy is performed.
Depending upon individual food selection, the low fiber/low residue diet is adequate in all nutrients (National Research Council’s Recommended Dietary Allowance). If the diet must be strict and followed over a long period of time, the intake of fruits and vegetables may not be adequate; and/or on a low residue diet, there may not be enough calcium included. In these cases, a multivitamin supplement or liquid nutritional supplement may be needed.
If a low fiber or low residue diet results in abdominal cramps or discomfort, notify the dietitian or physician immediately.
|Milk & Milk Products (2 or more cups daily||all milk products||Low Residue Diet – only 2 cups daily of all milk products|
|Vegetables (2 servings daily) 1 serving = 1/2 cup||vegetable juice without pulp; the following cooked vegetables: yellow squash (without seeds), green beans, wax beans, spinach, pumpkin, eggplant, potatoes without skin, asparagus, beets, carrots; tomato sauce and paste||vegetable juices with pulp, raw vegetables, cooked vegetables not on the Recommend list|
|Fruits (2-3 servings daily) 1 serving = 1/2 cup||fruit juices without pulp, canned fruit except pineapple, ripe bananas, melons, peeled and cooked apples, orange and grapefruit without the membrane||fruit juices with pulp, canned pineapple, fresh fruit except those on Recommend list, prunes, prune juice, dried fruit, jam, marmalade|
|Starches – Bread & Grains (4 or more servings daily)||bread and cereals made from refined flours, pasta, white rice, saltines, tapioca||whole-grain breads, cereals, rice, pasta, bran cereal, oatmeal|
|Meat or meat substitutes (5-6 oz daily)||meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, cottage cheese, other mildly flavored cheese||chunky peanut butter, nuts, seeds, dried beans, dried peas, tough gristly meats, hot dogs, sausage, sardines, fried meats, strongly flavored cheeses|
|Fats & Oils||all oils, margarine, butter||coconuts, fats used for deep frying|
|Sweets & Desserts (servings depend on caloric needs)||all not on Avoid list||desserts containing nuts, coconut, raisins, seeds|
|Miscellaneous||all not on Avoid list||popcorn, pickles, horseradish, relish|
|orange juice 1/2 cup
cornflakes 1 cup
white toast 1 slice
margarine 1 tsp
jelly 1 Tbsp
skim milk 1 cup
coffee 3/4 cup
sugar 1 tsp
|fish 3 oz
rice 1/2 cup
cooked green beans 1/2 cup
white bread 1 slice
margarine 1 tsp
jelly 1 Tbsp
applesauce 1/2 cup
coffee 3/4 cup
sugar 1 tsp
|chicken breast 3 oz
noodle 1/2 cup
cooked carrots 1/2 cup
white bread 1 slice
margarine 1 tsp
jelly 1 Tbsp
canned peaches 1/2 cup
skim milk 1 cup
coffee 3/4 cup
sugar 1 tsp
This sample menu provides the following:
Calories…………………. 1,576 Fat………………. 45 gm
Protein …………………. 89 gm Sodium………….. 2,817 mg
Carbohydrates…………. 215 gm Potassium………. 3,510 mg
What Is a ‘Low-Residue’ Diet, and Can It Help Treat Crohn’s Disease?
If you’re one of the roughly 780,000 Americans with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes damage along the length of the gastrointestinal tract, you’ve probably heard a lot of mixed messages about how diet may or may not help manage your disease.
One way of eating called the low-residue diet comes up a lot in conversations about Crohn’s disease. Here’s what you need to know about Crohn’s and the low-residue diet.
How Food Can Help with Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease can cause damage and inflammation in any part of the GI tract — from the mouth all the way to the anus. Most often, it affects the end of the small intestine, called the ileum. “Symptoms vary based on the location of inflammation, but often include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss,” says Colleen D. Webb, MS, RDN, CLT, a New York-based clinical nutritionist who specializes in gastrointestinal health.
While food doesn’t cause Crohn’s disease — which is an inflammatory disease that is thought to occur as a result of genetic and environmental factors — what you eat can exacerbate symptoms. Dietary triggers of Crohn’s, however, can depend very much on the individual.
As a result, dietary recommendations for Crohn’s disease can vary widely. Often, doctors suggest a “low-residue” or low-fiber diet during an active flare to help minimize gut distress. Doctors may also suggest a low-fiber or low-residue diet for a patient who has strictures, or narrowing in the intestines.
While these terms are technically different, doctors often use them interchangeably.
Crohn’s Disease Diet: Fiber vs. Residue
Fiber is an umbrella word for types of carbohydrates that the body cannot digest. Different types of fiber impact your digestion in different ways. Soluble fiber (found in foods like beans and oats) absorbs water and slows down the speed at which your body digests food. Insoluble fiber (found in foods like bran, leafy green vegetables, and nuts) adds bulk to the stool. It works like a broom, helping food to pass more quickly through the digestive tract. This type of fiber in particular can be irritating to people with IBD, particularly when they’re in the midst of a flare. Cooking, peeling, and removing the seeds from foods that are high in insoluble fiber can help make them more easily digestible.
Residue refers to any food that increases stool output, which includes high-fiber foods, but extends to meat and dairy as well. A low-residue diet, therefore, limits high-fiber foods like berries, leafy green vegetables, beans, and whole grains, as well as meat and dairy.
What Do You Eat on a Low-Fiber or Low-Residue Diet?
A low-fiber diet keeps fiber intake to no more than 10 to 15 grams of fiber per day. To achieve this, a person would avoid whole-grain foods like cereal and whole-wheat bread in favor of white rice, white flour pasta, and white bread. Lower-fiber fruits and vegetables like white or sweet potato, zucchini, and melon are permitted in moderate amounts.
A low-residue diet takes the low-fiber diet and adds more restrictions. Milk and milk products should be limited to no more than two cups per day. It suggests around two servings of protein per day, but choose tender or ground meats like ground turkey, fish, eggs, and tofu for your proteins in place of foods like tough meat with gristle and beans.
Here’s a sample day of a low-residue diet:
- 1 slice sourdough bread
- 2 eggs, scrambled
- Chicken noodle soup
- 1 small roll
- ½ cup cantaloupe
- 1 small ripe banana
- 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
- Tofu stir fried with zucchini
- White rice
Do Low-Fiber and Low-Residue Diets for Crohn’s Disease Work?
There has been limited research on both low-fiber and low-residue diets in people with Crohn’s disease. However, current research doesn’t find much difference between following those restrictive diets and more liberal ones.
In fact, people with Crohn’s in remission who avoid fiber may be doing themselves a disservice. Adults with Crohn’s disease who did not avoid high-fiber foods were around 40 percent less likely to have a flare than those who did avoid high-fiber foods over a six-month period, according to a 2016 study from George Mason University.
Interestingly, fiber intake has no relationship with whether or not a person develops Crohn’s disease in the first place, according to a large multi-center study from Europe published in 2018 that followed more than 400,000 people.
As for during a flare, there hasn’t been much research on whether or not low-fiber or low-residue diets really help. It’s important to remember that medication is the first line of defense. Of course, it makes sense to eat foods that are less irritating to the gut when a person is experiencing an active Crohn’s disease flare, and many people do find that restricting their eating is helpful.
It’s depends on what you feel works for you personally. If you find that a low-fiber or low-residue diet helps you feel better, then it’s worth sticking with until your flare has subsided. Keeping a food and symptom journal can help you tailor your diet to what works for you.
What to Eat During Crohn’s Flares: Low-Roughage Diet
What may be more beneficial than a low-residue or low-fiber diet if you’re in an active Crohn’s flare is a low-roughage diet, says Webb. It’s got a lot in common with a low-fiber or low-residue diet, with some caveats.
“I prefer the term ‘roughage’ to fiber because one need not avoid all fiber,” says Webb. The soluble fiber found in foods like cooked apples, ground chia seeds, and oatmeal in particular may help people with Crohn’s by absorbing fluid and slowing down digestion.
A person on a low-roughage diet would avoid potentially bowel-aggravating foods like whole seeds, nuts, and popcorn, but would eat well-processed fiber-containing foods like smoothies, soups, well-cooked vegetables, and creamy nut butters, says Webb. “They produce very little residue,” she says.
Whatever diet your doctor suggests for short-term relief from a Crohn’s flare, consider looking into following up with a registered dietitian who specializes in irritable bowel disease. She will be more likely to have the time and expertise to help you go beyond fiber and roughage to identify any specific food triggers that affect you and help manage your disease over the long term.
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In my previous column, I addressed the issue of malnutrition associated with Crohn’s disease. Here, I want to discuss a specific diet that gastroenterologists may suggest to help control the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. It’s called the low-residue diet (LRD). What is a low-residue diet? Following the stage in the digestive process where nutrients are absorbed as food passes through the small intestine, undigested food, or “residue,” enters the colon and forms into stool. An LRD limits the consumption of high-fiber foods, which include uncooked vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. By restricting fiber, the speed at which the stool passes through the colon is reduced. An LRD is typically recommended when the bowels need a break during severe Crohn’s flares, when obstructions or strictures are present, and before or after surgical procedures. How does it help? Low-residue diets are intended to relieve the demand on your intestines, so they don’t have to work hard to digest food. Foods that are high in fiber can make my Crohn’s worse, whether during a flare or not. My symptoms include severe abdominal cramping, bloating, nausea, and frequent bowel movements. During flares, urgent trips to the bathroom are needed due to severe diarrhea. This is when a low-residue diet comes in handy. Fiber speeds up the digestive process, which is suitable for someone dealing with constipation, but not ideal for anyone suffering from diarrhea. When foods pass too quickly through the small intestine, it interferes with the absorption of nutrients. Low-fiber foods slow down the digestive rate, allowing the body more time to take in nutrients. Other conditions can benefit If you have an intestinal obstruction or stricture, your doctor may prescribe bowel rest. This is where Subscribe or log in to access all post and page content.
Although the BRAT diet has been viewed as the proper treatment for how to stop diarrhea for many years, it has recently been deemed too restrictive by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This left many people wondering: What foods make your stomach feel better?
BRAT diet foods are consumed after diarrhea and vomiting because they are easy on the digestive system. These diarrhea diet foods work as stomach ache remedies because they are bland and give the stomach a chance to rest.
However, sticking to a BRAT diet menu alone lacks vital nutrients that the body needs to get well, and this can lead to electrolyte imbalance and malnourishment if its followed for too many days.
The key to eating when suffering from diarrhea is to choose nutrient-rich foods that add bulk to stool and help the body absorb vitamins and minerals.
What Is the BRAT Diet?
BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. These are the foods you can eat on the BRAT diet, because they are meant to promote stomach pain relief.
Pediatricians sometimes suggest the BRAT diet for babies and kids with upset stomachs because they reduce the amount of stool produced by the body and give the gut a chance to rest.
Although the BRAT diet was a staple of most pediatricians’ recommendations for children with diarrhea, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that kids resume eating a normal, well-balanced diet within 24 hours of diarrhea symptoms, because BRAT diet foods are low in fiber, protein and fat, thereby lacking enough nutrients.
How to Follow It
The BRAT diet is made up of foods that make your stomach feel better when dealing with issues like indigestion, diarrhea and vomiting. To follow the BRAT diet, you simply stick to foods that are easy to digest, but it’s also important to opt for nutrient-dense foods that will boost your immune system and help you to get well.
If you’re wondering what to eat after the BRAT diet, the answer is to slowly bring in a range of nutrient-rich and anti-inflammatory foods that will nourish the body.
What You Can Eat
As mentioned, the BRAT diet food list calls for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. However, research suggests that there are a variety of foods and drinks that are also effective.
What else can you eat on the BRAT diet? The following nutrient-dense foods are easy on the digestive system and help with nutrient absorption, boosting your immune system and keeping you energized and hydrated.
1. Bone Broth
Bone broth is a BRAT diet alternative that’s rich in vital nutrients that support your gut and immune system. It helps with the growth of probiotics in the gut and supports healthy inflammation levels in the digestive system.
It’s also easily digested and soothes the digestive system, making it the perfect food for when you have diarrhea.
By using the healing power of bone broth, you ensure that you get the nutrients you need to get well. And because it’s in liquid form, it’s easy on the stomach and doesn’t have to be broken down.
You can use protein powder made from bone broth to make preparing this nutrient-rich food as easy as possible.
2. Probiotic Foods
Probiotic foods and supplements have been extensively studied in the prevention and treatment of diarrheal diseases, especially for children. According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, the vast majority of published trials show a statistically significant benefit of probiotic strains, mostly Lactobacillus GG and S. boulardii, in the treatment of diarrhea.
On average, probiotics were able to reduce the duration of diarrhea by approximately one day in study participants. They help by providing the body with food bacteria and fighting off infections and other causes of diarrhea.
The greatest probiotic foods that help relieve diarrhea and other digestive issues include cultured vegetables (like sauerkraut and kimchi), kombucha, natto, apple cider vinegar, miso and yogurt. It’s true that processed, conventional dairy can be hard to digest and make diarrhea worse, but raw, cultured dairy like yogurt is high in probiotics and can support bowel function.
Soluble fiber can absorb excess fluid in the bowels and add bulk to loose stools. Oats are gluten-free and high in soluble fiber.
They help firm up stool and sweep through the digestive tract, pulling toxins and waste along with them. It’s helpful to soak oats overnight, which reduces antinutrients and enzymes that can disturb nutrient absorption and digestion.
Research suggests that bulking agents like oat bran can be employed as natural diarrhea remedies.
Bananas are easily digested, which is why they’re part of the BRAT diet. The high level of potassium in banana nutrition helps replace lost electrolytes, which is important when the body loses fluids and nutrients because of diarrhea.
Research has found that unripe, green bananas are beneficial when you have diarrhea.
Green bananas contain digestive-resistant starches that feed healthy bacteria in the gut. They don’t make you gassy, and they help add bulk to your stool.
A 2001 study published in Gastroenterology found that a rice-based diet containing cooked green bananas significantly reduced the amounts of stool in infants with diarrhea and reduced diarrheal duration.
To cook green bananas, simply place bananas, water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let simmer for five minutes until the bananas are tender.
Drain the water and eat the bananas plain or with another food for diarrhea, like oatmeal.
5. Vegetable Juice (with Carrots and Other Root Vegetables)
When you have diarrhea, it’s important that you eat enough nutrients in order to boost your immune system and allow your body to recover. That’s why the BRAT diet isn’t recommended for more than a 24-hour period.
Drinking vegetable juices that provide a range of vital vitamins and minerals can be beneficial, but it’s important that you use vegetables that won’t worsen your diarrhea symptoms.
Root vegetables are healing foods, and they can soothe the digestive system. Combine diarrhea foods like carrots, celery, spinach and ginger.
They all provide alkaline minerals and can help nourish the intestines and remove toxins from the body.
Carrot juice, for example, provides vitamins A, C, D, E and K, as well as many minerals, such as magnesium, potassium and calcium. It has a high fiber content and helps add bulk to your stool while calming your digestive system.
It also has an absorbent power and does not diminish the intestinal loss of water and electrolytes.
6. Sweet Potatoes
If you’re looking for foods that help stop diarrhea, stock up on sweet potatoes. According to research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the sweet potato is an extremely versatile vegetable that possesses high nutritional value.
Sweet potato nutrition has strong anti-inflammatory properties and are packed with potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin B6. In fact, 180 grams of sweet potatoes contain 692 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin A, while white potatoes contain zero percent.
Sweet potatoes are more nutritious than white potatoes, and they still provide insoluble fiber, helping firm up stool and reduce the symptoms of diarrhea. Compared to white potatoes, sweet potatoes have a lower score on the glycemic index, so your body is thought to absorb their sugar at a slower pace.
If you find that sweet potatoes don’t help add bulk to stool and provide the body with energy, try white potatoes, which contain more starch.
7. Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil benefits the digestive system in multiple ways. In fact, it can help to relieve both constipation and diarrhea.
A 2015 study found that flaxseed oil was able to reduce the castor oil-induced diarrheal score of mice by 84 percent and intestinal secretions by 33 percent. Flaxseed oil is one of the richest sources of vegetable-based, vital omega-3 fatty acids, so it helps keep your body well-nourished while it fights inflammation and boosts your immune system.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years as an effective digestive aid, making it an excellent food for upset stomach and diarrhea. Although ginger is more commonly known for its ability to ease nausea and vomiting, studies show that it can effectively inhibit diarrhea as well.
Research shows that ginger health benefits also include its ability to prevent the spread of bacteria that may lead to diarrhea in the first place. Eating whole ginger, drinking fresh ginger juice and inhaling diffused ginger essential oil are all highly effective ways to curb stomach ailments.
Research shows that dehydration is a major complication associated with diarrhea. Mild and severe diarrhea can result in the loss of dangerously large amounts of fluids.
If you have diarrhea, drink enough liquids to keep your urine looking clear — that’s about eight to 10 glasses of water a day. A helpful rule of thumb is to drink at least one glass of water every time you have a loose bowel movement.
Evidence suggests that for infants and children with diarrhea, breastfeeding reduces the risk of dehydration, and it’s important to discourage drinking fruit juices and carbonated drinks, because they can increase the risk of dehydration.
10. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil can reduce bowel inflammation and soothe the digestive tract, reducing loose stools. It also has a cooling sensation and calming effect on the body.
It soothes the gastric lining and colon because of its ability to reduce muscle spasms. Studies show that peppermint oil is effective in relieving abdominal pain in people with diarrhea because of its antispasmodic properties.
Foods to Avoid
When you have diarrhea, you want to avoid foods that are going to aggravate your symptoms and stay nourished so you can recover quickly. There are some foods to avoid when looking for natural remedies for indigestion, diarrhea and chronic nausea.
If you suffer from chronic diarrhea, you may benefit from following an elimination diet that involves avoiding certain trigger foods, like gluten, dairy and soy, for three to six weeks. Then you slowly bring these foods back into your diet to see how your body reacts to each food group.
Other foods to avoid when dealing with upset stomach and diarrhea include the following:
- Foods containing refined sugars
- Artificial sweeteners
- Processed fats and oils
- Processed and packaged foods
- Certain nightshades
How BRAT Works (Potential Benefits)
What is the BRAT diet used for? Eating bananas, rice, applesauce and toast as part of this diet for diarrhea is really intended to reduce the work being placed on your digestive system.
The reasoning behind the BRAT diet is that it includes binding foods that are low in fiber and can help to make stool firmer. It also includes bananas that are rich in potassium and help replace nutrients that are lost due to vomiting or diarrhea.
People follow the BRAT diet to help their bodies ease back into normal eating after having diarrhea or upset stomach.
Although it was believed that BRAT diet foods that stop diarrhea were best, it turns out that the best foods to eat when you have diarrhea aren’t necessarily part of a bland diet. Adding ginger, sweet potatoes, bone broth and carrot juice to your diet can also help to get rid of indigestion and upset stomach, while also providing important nutrients that the body needs to recover.
Some people may feel like they can only tolerate bland foods when they are nauseous or have diarrhea, so sticking to the BRAT diet for toddlers and adults is fine for the first 24 hours or so. After that, once you or your child is able to tolerate more foods, sticking to more nutrient-dense options is recommended.
There are some benefits to eating the BRAT diet list and other bland foods, including that they are:
- Easy to digest
- Able to stop nausea
- Meant to harden stool
- Bland tasting
- Safe for both kids and adults
Is It Effective and Safe? (Risks and Side Effects)
The BRAT diet is safe and effective for diarrhea, but because it does not provide all of the elements of a healthy diet, children and adults should only follow this diet for a short period of time.
If you stick to only BRAT foods for too long, your body can become malnourished, which makes it hard for you to get better again. Within 24 hours after vomiting or having diarrhea, you should begin to eat a regular diet that includes both fruits and vegetables.
There’s research to back up the theory that eating a regular diet is more effective in treating diarrhea. A 2006 study conducted at Columbia University School of Nursing sought to determine the efficacy of a dietary intervention to reduce the frequency of bowel movements and improve stool consistency in HIV patients with a history of recurring diarrhea episodes.
The treatment group followed a low-fat, low-insoluble fiber, lactose-free, high-soluble fiber and caffeine-free diet. They experienced a 28 percent reduction in stool frequency (compared to 15 percent for the control group) and a 20 percent improvement in stool consistency (compared to 8 percent).
This study suggests that sticking to nutrient-dense foods that serve as bulking agents can help improve the symptoms of diarrhea, and it’s not necessary to restrict yourself to just BRAT diet foods.
If the BRAT diet or other foods for diarrhea don’t work after four to five days (two days for an infant or child), it’s time to see your health care provider. Your provider will be able to determine whether your diarrhea is caused by a more serious condition and can recommend more extensive treatment.
He/she will also make sure that you aren’t becoming dehydrated and losing weight too quickly.
Following the BRAT diet for weight loss isn’t recommended because limited foods on the BRAT diet list are not rich in nutrients and will leave you malnourished after several days.
When it comes to the BRAT diet for dogs, opt for nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest, such as bone broth, plain boiled chicken, pumpkin and sweet potatoes. If the symptoms continue for more than two to three days, call your veterinarian.
- What does the BRAT diet stand for? The BRAT diet list includes bananas, rice, applesauce and toast — all bland foods that are said to be easy on the digestive system.
- How long should you stay on the BRAT diet? BRAT diet meals may be helpful for the first 24 hours of experiencing diarrhea symptoms, but it’s not recommended to continue this diet for longer periods of time, because it lacks vital nutrients that the body needs to get well and thrive.
- The BRAT diet for adults, kids and even dogs is an option for when other more nutrient-dense foods can’t be tolerated. But there are other foods that help to treat diarrhea too, including probiotic foods, bone broth, oats, carrot juice and more. Combined with a day on the BRAT diet, these BRAT diet alternatives can help relieve symptoms and improve digestion.
- If BRAT diet foods or other foods for diarrhea don’t work after four to five days (two days for an infant or child), it’s time to see your healthcare provider.