Reduce your visits to the bathroom and improve your other diarrhoea symptoms with this valuable food list.
Discomfort is a given when you have diarrhoea. You experience symptoms like bloating, abdominal cramps, loose or watery stool, and the most notorious of all, the frequent urge to empty your bowel.
Knowing the right foods that can help soothe your stomach and the foods that can worsen your symptoms will help you deal with this condition better. This list will help you answer the poetic question, what to eat or not to eat when you have diarrhoea.
Foods to Eat When You Have Diarrhoea:
Staying hydrated is one of, if not the most important, things to remember when you are suffering from diarrhoea. The biggest threat of diarrhoea is dehydration, brought about by the loss of large amounts of fluid and much-needed electrolytes from your body. Drink plenty of fluids like coconut water, mineral-rich bone broth, and most importantly, clean drinking water, to replenish your body’s lost fluids.
When it comes to diarrhoea, the BRAT (banana, rice, applesauce, toast) diet was once the staple recommendation. Not much has changed over the years, and bananas are still regarded as one of the best foods to eat when you are suffering from diarrhoea.
Bland and easy to digest, bananas are effective at calming your digestive system. Aside from bananas being one of the best sources of potassium which helps replenish your lost electrolytes, they are also a good source of soluble fibre called pectin. Pectin helps absorb the liquids in your intestines for a smooth stool movement. Eating bananas can balance your digestive system and improve your diarrhoea symptoms.
The R in BRAT stands for rice. Easy to digest and rich in carbohydrates, rice has binding properties that help solidify loose stools. When you are suffering from diarrhoea, avoid pairing rice with dairy and fats as these foods are known triggers of diarrhoea symptoms. It’s best to have your rice plain or cooked with chicken broth instead.
4. White Flour Foods
While toast stands for T in the BRAT diet and every mother’s recommendation, you have more options than just toast to relieve yourself from your diarrhoea symptoms. White flour foods are starchy, low in fibre and easy to digest, making these foods ideal for individuals suffering from diarrhoea. White bread, pancakes, and even pasta are good examples of white flour foods, but make sure you don’t have these with butter, sugar, or oil as these ingredients will defeat the purpose of trying to calm your diarrhoea symptoms.
5. Baked, Broiled or Steamed Chicken or Lean Meat
Chicken is a bland meat which makes it an easily digestible source of protein that helps replenish lost nutrients back into your body. Go light in preparing your chicken and do not add oil or butter to your cooking; stick to baking, broiling or steaming instead. Don’t forget to baste it with water or chicken broth to make the meat juicy. You can also eat other meat like turkey, fish, beef, and even pork. Just make you sure you are using lean meat with hardly any fat.
6. Chicken Broth
The nutrients found in chicken soup can replace the electrolytes you lost. A bowl of warm soup also soothes your stomach and makes you feel better.
Just like soup, hot breakfast cereals and oatmeal are perfect for comforting your troubled stomach. Oatmeal is made of soluble fibre that serves as a bulking agent, giving form to your stool. Skip the dairy and the sweeteners like honey throughout the course of your diarrhoea. Have your cereal and oatmeal with a banana as a safe sweetener instead.
Instead of milk, why not have your cereal and oatmeal with yoghurt? While dairy products should be avoided if you have diarrhoea, yoghurt is an exception. Check the label to make sure you are getting yoghurt with real active bacterial cultures, specifically Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Make sure your yoghurt has a low sugar content and does not have any artificial sweetener as this can trigger excessive intestinal gas, make you bloat and your stool, wet.
Vegetables like carrots, green beans, beets, acorn squash, and zucchinis are perfect for replacing the nutrients you’ve lost. They won’t make your stomach upset as long as you’ve prepared them properly: make sure you peel, remove the seeds and cook them well to make them easy to digest and not overwork your gut.
10. Pretzels and Sports Drinks
Eating salty pretzels made from white flour will help restore the electrolytes and sodium you lost from your bout with diarrhoea.
Sports drinks also do wonders because they provide salt and other electrolytes as well. Read the label to make sure the sugar content is low and the drink is free from artificial sweeteners because these can trigger your diarrhoea symptoms.
Foods You Should Avoid When You Have Diarrhoea:
1. Carbonated & Alcoholic Drinks
Carbonated and alcoholic drinks are loaded with substances like artificial sweeteners, a good amount of sugar, and in some drinks, caffeine. These ingredients can irritate your digestive tract, trigger your diarrhoea symptoms, and accelerate your loss of body fluids and electrolytes.
2. Fatty, Greasy, Fried Foods
We all love a good burger but you will not love the feeling after eating one when you have diarrhoea. Avoid fatty, greasy, fried foods that can aggravate your diarrhoea symptoms.
3. Insoluble Fibre
Insoluble fibre found in nuts, whole-grain bread and bran products are gastrointestinal tract stimulants which help a healthy person’s bowel movements go smoothly. But if you have diarrhoea, insoluble fibre will make your bowel movements accelerate, increasing the frequency of your visits to the toilet.
4. Dairy Products
Milk, butter, ice cream, and cheese are actually difficult for the body to digest. Even if your tolerance to dairy is high, consuming these when you have diarrhoea will heighten your symptoms.
5. Artificial Sweeteners
Watch out for sweeteners found in breath mints such as sorbitol which has laxative effects. This artificial sweetener can stimulate the evacuation of your bowels.
6. Improperly Prepared or Improperly Cooked Food
Practice good hygiene in preparing and cooking your food, as food that has not been thoroughly washed, stored in the proper temperature and sanitary conditions is prone to bacterial build-up. Cook your food at a temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit in order to kill diarrhoea-causing microbes like E.coli.
Need Our Help?
Book an appointment with an accredited dietitian or nutritionist by phone on (07) 3071-7405 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday or send us an enquiry. Alternatively, find out how our dietitians can help you cope with your diarrhoea here.