When you have stomach flu (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), you usually lose appetite and have difficulty holding down food. If this persists, you might experience exhaustion, lack of nourishment, and dehydration. To remedy this condition, a diet known as the BRAT diet was developed, which helps an upset stomach. What are the other benefits of the BRAT diet for vomiting and diarrhea?
What is the BRAT diet?
The BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast) diet is primarily suggested by physicians for patients who are experiencing vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. This diet plan includes foods that are bland, gentle to the stomach, and helps solidify bowel movement in cases of diarrhea.
The BRAT diet is used by doctors to help their patients to slowly recuperate and get back their appetite. In addition to the BRAT diet, patients are also encouraged to drink more clear liquids, since vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration.
Although the BRAT diet is primarily developed for children, pediatricians no longer recommend it since the foods included in the meal plan lacks in calories and nutrients that children need to properly recover. However, adults can still try this diet, but keep in mind that it must not be done long-term as it might result in nutrient deficiency.
What are the Benefits of the BRAT Diet?
Aside from helping a patient to recover from stomach flu, here are the other benefits of the BRAT diet for vomiting and diarrhea:
- The BRAT diet is composed of bland foods that are gentle to the stomach, which reduces the chance of irritation.
- The diet includes “binding” foods or low fiber foods that help make the stool firmer.
- Although the BRAT diet does not give a lot of nutrients to the body, it can still supply some of the nutrients you may have lost due to vomiting or diarrhea. A banana, for example, is rich in potassium. Potassium will not only replace some of the nutrients you lost, but it can also help with dehydration since aside from being a mineral, it is an electrolyte as well.
When is a BRAT diet necessary?
A BRAT diet is recommended for people who are starting to recover from nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Keep in mind that the BRAT diet is not for children or adults who are still actively vomiting. To help you further, here is a sample diet plan you can follow:
Sample diet plan
First 8 to 12 hours
- When vomiting has stopped, it is advisable to give yourself and your stomach rest to recover from exhaustion.
- After an hour or two, you can start having little sips of water or nibble on some ice chips.
For the next 12 to 24 hours
- If your condition starts to get better, you can transition to more frequent sips of clear liquids (water).
- For vomiting or diarrhea, beverages with electrolytes can keep you from being dehydrated. Here are some clear liquids you can take: apple juice, flat soda, herbal tea, or a non-greasy broth.
- Remember not to take anything by mouth for an hour or so if symptoms of stomach flu return.
- This is when you can start the BRAT diet for vomiting and diarrhea. You can gradually add bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and other bland foods to your diet.
- Aside from the usual BRAT meal, you can also have some saltine crackers, cereal without milk, and other soft fruits.
- When your appetite starts to go back to normal, you can now add more variety in your meals.
- You can add the following foods: poached or scrambled egg, boiled or steamed white meat (chicken or turkey), cooked carrots or potatoes (no skin), and stewed fruits.
What Foods to Avoid?
Listed below are the foods you need to avoid to preserve the benefits of the BRAT diet:
- Milk and other dairy products
- Fried, greasy, fatty, spicy, and raw foods
- Foods that can increase intestinal gas like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and beans
- Citrus or acidic fruits like oranges, lemon, pineapple, and tomato
- Fruits that can increase gas and an upset your stomach like grapes, cherry, and seeded berries
- Beverages that are too hot or too cold
- Alcohol and caffeinated beverages
When your improvement progresses, you can slowly go back to your normal diet, but remember to keep milk and dairy products at the end of your list.
What to Remember
- Keep yourself hydrated and continue drinking beverages with electrolytes to restore water loss.
- Give yourself time to recover, get some sleep, and rest as much as you can.
- Do not force yourself to go back to your normal routine, especially if your regular activities require demanding physical exertion.
- Make sure to get yourself immediately checked, especially when you are constantly vomiting or having diarrhea. It is better to know what’s been causing these conditions to prevent it from worsening.
- Ask your doctor for medications that can help relieve your condition.
- Take your medications on time and visit your doctor once again for a follow-up check-up.
The BRAT diet helps people get through the series of vomiting and diarrhea. However, if these conditions persist for more than 2 weeks, the BRAT diet won’t solve your problem. This diet is only for short-term use as the diet does not really contain sufficient nutrition to help someone get better. Long-term use of this diet can lead to nutrient deficiency and caloric deficit that can only aggravate your current state.
For best results, the BRAT diet must be accompanied by a doctor’s visit, and if needed, medications.
Learn more about Healthy Eating here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.