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Bland diets for upset stomachs

Updated April 17, 2017

If you have an upset stomach, you may be experiencing nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea along with your gastrointestinal distress. While some cases of upset stomach are caused by food poisoning or illness, other cases are due to stress, eating certain foods or peptic ulcers. When you have an upset stomach, you should avoid foods that will make your condition worse. A bland diet will help soothe your stomach while you are on your way to recovery.

Diet to Help Vomiting

If you are actively vomiting, solid foods are not recommended. Drink clear liquids until your vomiting has subsided. Try an electrolyte-replacement solution like Rehydralyte or Pedialyte to replace nutrients lost during vomiting episodes.

The BRAT Diet

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal distress without vomiting, you can eat what doctors refer to as the "BRAT" diet. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. This diet is excellent for recovering from diarrhoea or other gastrointestinal disorders. These foods are low in fibre, so they harden your stools. Bananas are a key component of this diet: They contain potassium, which is often lost during episodes of vomiting or diarrhoea.

While recovering from your gastrointestinal distress, you can add clear broth, saltine crackers and boiled potatoes to the BRAT diet. Do not follow this diet for extended periods of time, since it lacks key nutrients. You should be able to ease yourself into a normal diet within 48 hours of vomiting or diarrhoea. Consult your doctor if vomiting or diarrhoea continues for more than 48 hours.

Beyond the BRAT Diet

While recovering from gastrointestinal distress, or if you are experiencing an upset stomach due to peptic ulcers or stress, you can consume bland foods other than those contained in the BRAT diet. Choose bland, nonspicy foods such as plain crackers, boiled potatoes, eggs, chicken, carrots, green beans, smooth peanut butter, vanilla and white bread. Mild cheeses are also an option if you are not sensitive to dairy.

For beverages, choose clear, noncitrus juices, decaffeinated colas and herbal teas. Milk may be a good choice if you are not sensitive to dairy. Avoid caffeine.

General Guidelines

Common stomach irritants include citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, spices, caffeine, processed meats and milk. Avoid chocolate, alcohol, fried foods, heavily processed foods and whole grains.

Eat small servings of food. You may feel more comfortable eating several small meals rather than three large ones. Do not avoid eating due to fear of stomach distress, as this could cause further stomach irritation. Chew your food slowly and thoroughly while you eat.Try to eat in a relaxing environment.

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About the Author

Based in Southern California, Dawn Thiery has been a professional writer since 2000. She has a background in web content management and corporate communications, and also writes for political and technology-related blogs. Dawn has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Chapman University in Orange, California.