What to Eat When You Have Diarrhea — 10 Foods to Try

Diarrhea is a common digestive condition that causes loose or watery stools. Most people experience occasional diarrhea, which can be caused by an illness like the stomach flu, but some people experience frequent, chronic diarrhea due to underlying illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease.1

Whether you’re experiencing diarrhea caused by a virus, or have a medical condition that causes more frequent episodes of diarrhea, making temporary changes to your diet by removing certain foods and prioritizing others could help improve your symptoms.1 For one, it’s important to choose foods that are easy on your digestive tract and help replace fluids and nutrients that are lost through loose stools. For example, foods that are low in fiber, fat, added sugar, and other ingredients can make diarrhea worse.2

The BRAT diet is a type of low-fiber diet that’s often prescribed by healthcare providers to treat short-term diarrhea.1 BRAT stands for bananas, rice, apples, and toast, which are the foods that make up the BRAT diet. However, you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to the BRAT diet if you’re experiencing diarrhea. Other foods, like plain crackers and low-fat protein sources are usually well-tolerated, too.3

If you have diarrhea, consider trying the following foods:Bananas: Unripe bananas are high in resistant starch, which could help draw moisture out of stools and reduce diarrhea symptoms.4
White rice: White rice is low in fiber and easier to digest than high-fiber grains like brown rice and other whole grains.
Applesauce: Unlike whole, raw apples, applesauce is broken down into an easy-to-digest form, which is a good choice for people with diarrhea.
Toast: White toast that’s low in fiber is easy for people with diarrhea to tolerate.
Plain crackers: Like white toast, plain crackers made with white flour or gluten-free low-fiber flour are easy to digest and could help soothe your stomach.
Broths and soups: Low-fat and low-fiber soups and broths are hydrating and high in nutrients that can be lost through watery stools, like sodium.
Pretzels: Pretzels and other salty, snack foods like tortilla chips are low in fiber and provide sodium, an electrolyte that’s lost through diarrhea.2
Plain, low-fat sources of protein: Egg whites, chicken breast, lean beef, and lean fish are usually well-tolerated when you have diarrhea.2
Low-fiber breakfast cereals: Corn flakes and farina should be chosen over higher-fiber options.2
Baked potatoes: Potatoes without the skin are easy on the stomach and contain potassium, an electrolyte that’s lost through diarrhea.2

Although these foods are often recommended by healthcare providers, they’re not the only foods that you can eat when you have diarrhea. In general, you should stick to bland foods that are low in fat and fiber, but you can try to incorporate other foods into your diet as long as you’re able to tolerate them and they don’t make your diarrhea or other symptoms like stomach pain worse.23
7 Home Remedies for Diarrhea
What to Drink When You Have Diarrhea

Diarrhea causes you to lose larger amounts of water and electrolytes through your stool, which increases your risk of dehydration. Dehydration can make you feel weak and dizzy and can become dangerous if you’re not able to rehydrate.2

To protect you from dehydration, it’s important to replace lost fluids when you’re experiencing diarrhea. Even though water needs vary, especially when you have diarrhea, you should aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Some health experts also recommend drinking at least one cup of water every time you have a loose bowel movement.2

In addition to water, beverages like sports drinks and tea may help you stay hydrated and replace some of the nutrients lost through loose stools.

Here are some drinks that can help you stay hydrated without worsening diarrhea:2Water
Sports drinks like Gatorade
Broth like chicken or vegetable broth
Certain decaffeinated teas like chamomile and ginger56

Small amounts of diluted fruit juice are usually well-tolerated, but drinking large amounts of sugary beverages or drinks that are sweetened with sugar alcohols could worsen diarrhea by drawing water into your intestines.127
The Worst Foods to Eat When You Have Diarrhea

While certain foods and drinks could help you recover quicker and firm up your stools, others can make diarrhea worse. In general, you should avoid meals and snacks that are high in fat and fiber when you’re experiencing diarrhea.2 But there are a few other foods and drinks that you’ll want to limit or avoid as well.

Here are the worst foods and drinks for diarrhea:2Fried and greasy products like french fries and bacon
High-fat dairy products like whole milk and ice cream
Gas-promoting vegetables like broccoli and cabbage
High-fiber foods like beans, dried fruit, and whole grains
Caffeinated drinks like coffee and energy drinks
Carbonated and sugary drinks like soda

Although some people can tolerate certain dairy products like low-fat yogurt when they have diarrhea, many people are intolerant to lactose — a sugar found in milk. If you’re lactose intolerant, eating or drinking dairy products can make diarrhea worse.2
Additional Treatments

In addition to changing your diet, there are a few other ways to feel better when you have diarrhea.2Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Instead of eating larger meals, which might worsen diarrhea, choose smaller portions that are easiest to digest.
Stay hydrated by sipping water and other beverages like broth and sports drinks throughout the day.
Avoid strenuous activity and rest if you’re able. This is especially important if you have a fever or are feeling weak or dizzy.

In addition to resting, staying hydrated, and eating small portions of non-irritating foods, taking an over-the-counter (OTC) medication like Pepto-Bismol or Imodium may help treat some types of diarrhea. However, you shouldn’t use these medications if you have bloody diarrhea or a fever.8
7 Diarrhea Treatments From Diet Modifications to Antibiotics
When to Seek Medical Help

It’s important to understand that there are several different types of diarrhea, each with different causes. Diarrhea can be caused by an infection, an underlying medical condition, certain medications, and medical treatments like chemotherapy.2

Even though dietary changes can help reduce diarrhea symptoms, it’s not an appropriate way to treat all types of diarrhea.

People with medical conditions that cause diarrhea like ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease should contact their healthcare provider if they’re experiencing diarrhea or other symptoms that indicate a flare of the disease.9

Treatment for diarrhea depends on the cause, so it’s important to never self-diagnose and to seek medical attention if you’re experiencing any of the following:2Diarrhea that lasts more than five days in adults or longer than two days in infants and children
Diarrhea that has an unusual smell or color
Diarrhea and a fever that doesn’t go away
Diarrhea along with other symptoms like nausea and vomiting
Blood or mucus in your stool.
Severe stomach pain

These symptoms could be a sign that you need medical attention right away.

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