What to Eat When You Have Diarrhea

Diarrhea, or having more than three loose or watery stools per day, can happen for a variety of reasons. While it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant, diarrhea can usually be managed at home with rest, plenty of fluids, and the easily digested foods that make up the diarrhea diet.


If you have diarrhea and other symptoms (like nausea, abdominal cramping, and bloating), temporarily following a limited diet of easily digested foods reduces stress on your digestive system and gives your bowels a chance to rest, so you can recover. The diarrhea diet also encourages you to restore your body’s fluid and electrolyte balance.

Simple food choices decrease the amount of waste or residue in your colon, meaning you’ll have fewer and less frequent bowel movements. The slower transit time reduces diarrhea and helps your body stay nourished. (When food is moving through your digestive tract too quickly, it’s harder for your intestines to pull out all the nutrients.)

The diarrhea diet has a lot in common with the well-known BRAT diet, which is used for a variety of gastrointestinal concerns. BRAT is an acronym for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. You’ll find these items along with others on the list of approved diarrhea-diet foods.

How It Works

The foods in the diarrhea diet are simple. The idea, again, is to give your body the break it needs. It may help to remember that you only need to follow the diet temporarily—and that diverting from the eating plan will likely only worsen and/or prolong your symptoms.

One area you'll likely be making changes is how much fiber you eat each day. It's important to remember that, though the diarrhea diet involves cutting back on fiber, it is still an important part of your diet. The task will be finding the right amount of fiber for optimum health without making your symptoms worse.


You will probably only need to stick to the diarrhea diet for a few days—a good thing, especially since compliant foods don’t supply enough nutritional variety for this eating plan to be considered healthy long term.

As you begin to feel better, you can start easing back into a well-rounded diet of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. You may need a week to 14 days to fully transition back to your normal diet.

What to Eat

Compliant Food
  • White bread or toast

  • Broth

  • Coconut water

  • Plain pasta

  • White potato (peeled)

  • Bananas

  • White rice

  • Canned pears

  • Farina

  • Applesauce

  • Eggs (soft-cooked)

  • Low-fat yogurt

  • Chicken breast (skinless)

  • Soda crackers

  • Decaffeinated tea (weakly brewed)

  • Pretzels

Non-Compliant Foods
  • Dairy products (except yogurt)

  • Fried, fatty, or spicy meat

  • Whole grains

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Beans and legumes

  • Raw vegetables

  • Corn

  • Onion and garlic

  • Potato chips

  • Sugar-free candy or gum

  • Cabbage and broccoli

  • Dried fruit

  • Nut butters

  • Carbonated drinks

  • Coffee

  • Citrus fruit and juice

  • Alcohol

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