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Gastroenteritis Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Hazel Caingcoy · Updated Dec 24, 2022

Gastroenteritis Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of your stomach and intestines. It is caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites. In some cases, gastroenteritis can be a side effect from a medication. Symptoms of this condition usually last for 1-2 days and may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Belly cramps
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache

The Gastroenteritis Diet

The gastroenteritis diet consists of foods and drinks that can be eaten or given to someone with gastroenteritis. In addition to easing symptoms, this diet can prevent dehydration, which is very common in gastroenteritis patients. When a person has gastroenteritis, their symptoms will make it difficult to eat but skipping meals might worsen their condition.

Give your stomach a chance to settle

Stay away from solid foods for a couple of hours from the onset of gastroenteritis.


To stay hydrated, drink water, broths, or non-caffeinated sports drinks. Drink fluids frequently but in small amounts especially during the first hour of gastroenteritis, when vomiting and diarrhea can be intense.

For the next 24 hrs, keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids

If you’ve vomited recently, wait 2 hours before you gradually increase your intake of fluids. Start with small frequent sips. Getting adequate hydration from water, herbal decaffeinated tea, or over-the-counter electrolyte replacements is essential if you are suffering from diarrhea or vomiting caused by a stomach flu.

Drinks to include in your gastroenteritis diet

  • Caffeine-free soft drinks
  • Decaffeinated teas and coffees
  • Ginger ale
  • Clear broth, or bouillon
  • Plain or flavored water
  • Food to include in your gastroenteritis diet

    Relax and slowly go back to eating solid food

    Gradually include bland, easy-to-digest foods in your diet. Do not overdo it if you begin to feel nauseated again.

    Crackers, toast, gelatin, and lugaw are some of the foods you can gradually take in as you recover from gastroenteritis. Just make sure that the food you are eating does not contain a lot of oil or spices as this can upset your stomach.

    Food you can eat

    • Plain bread or toast
    • Cereal without milk
    • Plain or mildly seasoned noodles
    • Rice or lugaw
    • Arroz Caldo
    • mashed potatoes
    • Frozen fruit bars
    • Ice Pops
    • Bananas
    • Gelatin

    When nausea returns, you may have to go back to consuming fluids only.

    Eat complex carbohydrates

    Potatoes and grains such as rice and toast are some of the best options you can include in your diet when recovering from gastroenteritis.

    Once the urge to vomit has passed, you may want to try lean meats that aren’t too spiced or flavored. Arroz caldo could now be a part of your gastroenteritis diet.

    Try eating ice chips

    Try sucking on small pieces of ice, or ice chips, if you have difficulty keeping anything in your stomach due to frequent vomiting. By chewing on ice chips for a longer period, you can remain hydrated. However, if you are still vomiting, you may need to visit the emergency room.

    Food to avoid in your gastroenteritis diet

    Avoid certain foods

    When you have gastroenteritis, your digestion of fats is altered, so do not consume red meat or other fatty foods. Additionally, spicy food and caffeine are known to irritate the mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines. This makes them unsuitable for patients with gastroenteritis.

    If you have an upset stomach, avoid dairy products, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. It is also not recommended to consume processed foods, fatty foods, spicy foods, or foods with very strong flavors.

    It may seem like a good idea to include ice cream in your gastroenteritis diet since it is soft and cold. However, ice cream contains dairy, fat, and sugar, which could irritate your stomach.

    In addition, you should avoid fruit juices, especially those that are known to be acidic, such as pineapple juice, as these may irritate your stomach.

    Food to avoid

    • Fatty cheeses and dairy products
    • Beverages containing caffeine
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Oily and fried food
    • Spicy food or heavily seasoned food
    • Sugary drinks
    • Dried fruits
    • Fruits in syrup
    • Chocolate
    • Raw food

    Be careful with your medications

    It is not recommended to take medications such as ibuprofen without food especially if you have gastroenteritis. It is also best to drink them sparingly as they can cause an upset stomach.

    To avoid potential side effects, always talk to your health care provider about your medications.

    Eat slowly and never force yourself

    You should not push your body if you do not feel like eating. Make sure you rest, stay hydrated, and focus on recovering

    Key takeaway

    The gastroenteritis diet mainly consists of food that does not irritate the stomach, as well as a lot of fluids. When a person has gastroenteritis, they must avoid worsening the condition by staying hydrated. Eating complex carbohydrates and eating gradually are just some of the recommendations if you have gastroenteritis. It is also advisable to avoid any food that can potentially irritate your stomach such as alcohol, caffeine, and spices.

    Learn more about Gastroenteritis here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Hazel Caingcoy · Updated Dec 24, 2022

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