A stomach virus causes very uncomfortable symptoms and makes you feel very sick. Your natural inclination is to stop drinking and eating anything until your stomach settles down. If you have been losing fluids through diarrhoea and vomiting, however, you have to replace them so you do not become dehydrated and lose minerals and electrolytes that your body needs to function properly. You must be careful of what you eat so you do not exacerbate your symptoms and so your stomach and intestines can heal.
You can try drinking clear liquids such as water, clear tea, flat lemon-lime soda without caffeine or apple juice. Avoid acidic drinks such as orange or grapefruit juice. Do not drink an entire glass or bottle of any liquid. Your stomach is still very tender and might react by making you vomit again. Instead, you should sip small amounts approximately every 20 minutes until your stomach is able to tolerate larger amounts of fluids. If you have been vomiting and having diarrhoea frequently, you need to replace lost electrolytes and minerals and avoid dehydration. Ask your doctor what oral rehydration fluids you can safely drink or try a diluted sports drink. Once you have been able to retain clear fluids for several hours, or when your stomach feels less upset, you can increase the amount of fluid you drink. Continue to drink the same clear fluids. You may find it easier to tolerate cold drinks, so keep your fluids refrigerated.
Move up to soft, bland foods once you have not vomited for several hours and when drinking clear fluids does not cause further stomach upset. Gelatin, applesauce, rice, crackers and bananas are good to start with. You can also eat dry toast with no butter or margarine, as well as plain noodles. Once you have been eating these bland foods for several hours and are tolerating them well, you can try eggs. If you become nauseated or vomit again, stop eating solids and return to a clear liquid diet. Resume the bland diet slowly when you feel better. Eat gelatin and crackers or dry toast and give your system time to digest these foods.
Foods and Liquids to Avoid
Avoid spicy, greasy, stringy or acidic foods such as meats, tomatoes and citrus fruits. Do not drink milk or eat dairy products. Steer clear of caffeinated beverages, alcohol and nicotine. Consuming any of these is likely to make you sick again.
Resuming a Normal Diet
Do not return to a normal diet until your diarrhoea has gone away and you are not experiencing any more nausea. Usually this will be in about three days. Add restricted foods back into your diet slowly. It may take a week or two for your stomach and intestines to be able to digest a wide range of foods again.