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Diarrhea: What to Eat When You Are Feeling Better

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Updated March 30, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

No one can live on the BRAT diet indefinitely. Whether you are just getting over a bad bout of gastroenteritis or suffer from diarrhea predominant IBS (IBS-D), at some point you will need to expand your diet. This article will provide you with some safer options to turn to while you wait for your intestinal system to settle down.

Breakfast

If you are starting to feel better, you may be able to expand your morning meal beyond bananas, applesauce and toast. The following options will help you to start to increase your intake of a wider variety of nutrients. You don't have to restrict these choices to the morning, feel free to eat them whenever you feel that your system is ready for some food.

  • Crisped rice cereal - eaten dry
  • Eggs - cooked with a minimum of butter or oil
  • Oatmeal or other hot cooked cereal
  • Plain, low-fat yogurt
  • Rice cakes

Lunch

As with the breakfast choices, you do not have to restrict these options to mid-day.

  • Canned tuna - packed in water, not oil
  • Chicken broth
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Cooked chicken breast
  • Crackers
  • Plain pasta or noodles
  • Sandwich with lean protein, e.g. chicken or turkey
  • Vegetable soup

Dinner

As your system starts to settle down and you feel that you are regaining some strength, you may be ready for something a little more substantial at dinner time:

  • Potatoes - baked, mashed or steamed
  • Lean meat - chicken, turkey or steak
  • Steamed vegetables

Remember that as your body is recovering from a bad bout of diarrhea it is essential to hydrate! The quick passage of stool through the large intestine that is inherent in diarrhea results in only minimal amounts of water being drawn into the intestinal lining. This leaves you at severe risk for dehydration. Some good choices for keeping your body well-hydrated include:

Special Resources for Chronic Diarrhea Sufferers

If you suffer from IBS-D, diarrhea may be an almost daily occurrence. Under these circumstances, you might find yourself being at risk for nutritional deficits if you follow a severely restricted diet. Although the above suggestions may be all you can tolerate during extremely bad IBS attacks, you will need a longer-term plan to ensure that you are eating in a way that is optimal to your health. Here are two resources that offer a more permanent dietary solution:

Low FODMAPs Diet

Researchers have been doing studies on the benefits of a low FODMAPs diet for IBS. The diet involves the identification and restriction of certain carbohydrate-containing foods, classified with the acronym FODMAP. The diet can be followed on a long-term basis, but it is recommended that this is done under the supervision of a licensed dietician to ensure that adequate nutrition is being taken in. Here are some helpful articles on the use of a low FODMAP diet for IBS:

Eating for IBS

The book "Eating for IBS" by Heather Van Vorous should be required reading for anyone diagnosed with IBS. Van Vorous is herself a life-long IBS sufferer. In her book, she offers strategies that help IBS patients to no longer see food as an enemy that cannot be defeated. She offers practical strategies for eating in a way that helps to keep symptoms to a minimum. In particular, Van Vorous offers a theory about the use of soluble fiber as a way to help keep the digestive system soothed and functioning. The book contains many IBS-friendly recipes, as well as suggestions for safe meal planning. Her sound plan for eating sensibly and safely with IBS offers a nice alternative to an overly restrictive diet for IBS-D.

Essential Reading from Dr. Bolen, your IBS Guide:

Source:

"Viral Gastroenteritis" National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) Web Site Accessed March 16, 2012.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.

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