How Long Should You Wait to Eat After Diarrhea?

Reviewed on 5/27/2021
diarrhea
It’s best to wait at least 24-48 hours to eat regular foods after diarrhea

When suffering from diarrhea, your body loses a huge amount of water and nutrients it needs. You may also be unable to digest certain foods, which can make diarrhea even worse. So what can you eat, and when, after having diarrhea?

During the first few days, your digestive system won’t take well to foods you normally eat, like cooked meat, vegetables, fruits or dairy products. So it’s best to wait at least 24-48 hours before trying to reintroduce these foods to your stomach.

What should you eat after having diarrhea?

Electrolytes

The most important thing to do when suffering from diarrhea is drink lots of fluids or clear liquids. Your body has lost hydration and electrolytes are lost from the body, which can make you feel weak, fatigued, dizzy and cause leg cramps. Severe dehydration can lead to low blood pressure and even turn life-threatening if it leads to hypovolemic shock

To replenish your body:

  • Keep sipping an over-the-counter oral rehydration solution or electrolyte sports drink throughout the day.
  • Aim to drink a cup of water after every loose bowel movement. 
  • Stick to clear liquids, like clear broths, vegetable soup and decaffeinated tea.

The BRAT diet

Following the BRAT diet during this period may help, since it consists of bland foods that are low in fiber and gentle on the stomach, and can also help bind the loose stools. The BRAT diet includes:

  • Banana
  • Rice (white rice)
  • Apple sauce
  • Toast

Bananas contain pectin (a type of starch) that is beneficial for the digestive tract. Being a rich source of potassium, it also replenishes the body with potassium that is lost in diarrhea. One review article that analyzed several studies found that green banana pulp may reduce both diarrhea and constipation in children. Another study from 2016 found that consuming rice soups along with a rehydration solution was effective in reducing diarrhea in children.

Although many doctors no longer recommend the BRAT diet nowadays due to its low nutrition profile and risk of dehydration, studies have shown that people felt that following the BRAT diet was effective when done short-term.

One thing you can add to the BRAT diet is low-fat yogurt. Yogurt is the only dairy product that can be consumed on an upset stomach or diarrhea. As a rich source of probiotics or the “healthy bacteria,” it can help you to recover faster. 

To reap the maximum benefits of the BRAT diet, remember to maintain hydration by drinking lots of water and other fluids.

When and how to resume a regular diet

You can stop the BRAT diet after 24-48 hours have passed and gradually resume a normal or regular diet.

What to eat

Start by reintroducing these foods:

  • Rice porridge
  • Farina or cream of wheat
  • Pretzels or saltine crackers
  • Boiled eggs
  • Unflavored rice cakes
  • Plain pasta or noodles
  • Potatoes (no added butter, cream or cheese)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Steamed, baked or grilled skinless chicken (devoid of fat)
  • Oatmeal
  • Canned tuna packed in water

What to avoid

Until you are full recovered, you should avoid:

  • Fatty foods, which will be too heavy on your already weakened digestive system
  • Dairy products (except low-fat yogurt), which have the potential to irritate your stomach
  • Caffeinated drinks, which can increase urination, thus worsening dehydration

When to call your doctor

If you have other concerns, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for advice and follow their instructions on what to eat and when after struggling with diarrhea.

If your diarrhea does not resolve within 48 hours, or you are feeling extremely weak with dry skin and sunken eyes, get medical help as soon as possible.

QUESTION

Pancreatitis is inflammation of an organ in the abdomen called the pancreas. See Answer

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References
Family Doctor. BRAT Diet: Recovering From an Upset Stomach. https://familydoctor.org/brat-diet-recovering-from-an-upset-stomach/#

Falcomer AL, Riquette RFR, de Lima BR, Ginani VC, Zandonadi RP. Health Benefits of Green Banana Consumption: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2019;11(6):1222. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31146437/

Kianmehr M, Saber A, Moshari J, Ahmadi R, Basiri-Moghadam M. The Effect of G-ORS Along With Rice Soup in the Treatment of Acute Diarrhea in Children: A Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. Nurs Midwifery Stud. 2016 May 21;5(2):e25852. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4993029/

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