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Foods stop diarrhea fast: What to Eat and What to Avoid When You Have Diarrhea

What to Eat and What to Avoid When You Have Diarrhea

What to Eat and What to Avoid When You Have Diarrhea

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Medically reviewed by Adrienne Seitz, MS, RD, LDN, Nutrition — By Ana Gotter — Updated on May 11, 2023

Eating bland foods can help diarrhea go away faster and prevent stomach upset and irritation. You can follow the BRAT diet, which stands for “bananas, rice, applesauce, toast.” This diet also helps firm up stool.

Whether your diarrhea is caused by allergies, food poisoning, or a chronic condition like irritable bowel syndrome, diet and diarrhea are intricately linked.

Even if you have long-term conditions that affect the digestive system, your food can affect your comfort levels.

When you’re experiencing an episode of diarrhea, certain foods you eat can help your digestive system get back on track. Other foods might prolong or worsen your symptoms.

When you have diarrhea, the foods you eat and avoid can be critical to a quicker recovery. This is where BRAT foods come in.

The BRAT diet includes:

  • bananas
  • white rice
  • applesauce
  • toast made from white bread

These foods are bland and low in fiber so they won’t aggravate the digestive system. They’re also binding, so they help firm up stool. While following a BRAT diet, you can combine these ingredients, such as putting applesauce or bananas on toast.

You can eat additional foods as part of a bland diet. These can include:

  • cooked cereal, like oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, or Farina
  • soda crackers
  • apple juice that’s low in added sugar
  • baked or boiled potatoes

Drinking plenty of liquids can help you stay hydrated and replace the lost fluids. Options to try include:

  • water or sucking on ice chips
  • clear broths, like vegetable, chicken, or beef broth with any grease removed
  • electrolyte-enhanced water or coconut water with vitamins or electrolytes (try to avoid ones high in sugar)
  • solutions like Pedialyte
  • weak, decaffeinated tea

After you’ve started to recover, you can try to add in foods like scrambled eggs and cooked vegetables.

When you’re experiencing diarrhea or recovering from it, certain foods can trigger the digestive system and worsen or prolong diarrhea.

Foods to avoid while experiencing diarrhea include:

  • milk and dairy products (including milk-based protein drinks)
  • fried, fatty, greasy foods
  • spicy foods
  • processed foods, especially those with additives
  • pork and veal
  • sardines
  • raw vegetables
  • onions
  • corn
  • all citrus fruits
  • other fruits, like pineapples, cherries, seeded berries, figs, currants, and grapes
  • alcohol
  • coffee, soda, and other caffeinated or carbonated drinks
  • artificial sweeteners, including sorbitol

Many cases of diarrhea are short-lived and respond well to home treatments such as:

  • modified diet
  • increased fluid intake
  • over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as anti-diarrheal medications like Pepto-Bismol, which can help stop or slow down diarrhea
  • rest

But you may also develop diarrhea due to a bacterial infection. In these cases, a doctor may recommend antibiotics.

Taking probiotics after taking antibiotics can help prevent adverse reactions to antibiotics by introducing healthy bacteria back into the digestive system. This can also help prevent future cases of diarrhea.

If your diarrhea is severe, you may need to be admitted to the hospital to receive intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration.

While many cases of diarrhea can be treated at home, if your bout is prolonged or you experience concerning symptoms, you may have an underlying medical condition. Diarrhea that lasts more than a few days without improvement or occurs with dehydration may require medical care.

If you have concerning symptoms, you may need to go to the emergency room for treatment. These symptoms can include:

  • black or bloody stools
  • severe abdominal pain
  • a fever of 102°F (39°C) or higher

If a child has diarrhea, they may need urgent or emergency care if they:

  • don’t improve after 24 hours
  • haven’t had a wet diaper in 3 or more hours
  • have a fever of 100. 4°F (38°C) in children under 3 months old or 102.2°F (39°C) or higher in children between 3 and 36 months old
  • have a dry mouth or tongue
  • cry without tears
  • have skin that doesn’t flatten if pinched and released
  • have a sunken appearance to the abdomen, cheeks, or eyes
  • have black or bloody stools

The foods you eat can cause and help your body recover from diarrhea.

When you have diarrhea, get lots of rest, drink plenty of water, and start introducing BRAT foods after a few hours. After a day or 2 of bland, soft foods, you can add in foods like lean ground chicken and scrambled eggs.

Sticking to this diet can help you recover faster and feel better sooner, so you can return to eating all the foods you love as soon as possible.

Eating bland foods low in fiber can help your diarrhea go away faster. Always remember to rehydrate to replenish lost fluids.

Last medically reviewed on May 11, 2023

How we reviewed this article:

Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Diarrhea. (2016).
  • Nemeth V, et al. (2022). Diarrhea.
  • Weir S-B, et al. (2022). Bland diet.

Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

May 11, 2023

Written By

Ana Gotter

Edited By

Heather Hobbs

Medically Reviewed By

Adrienne Seitz, MS, RD, LDN

Copy Edited By

Naomi Farr

Aug 30, 2021

Written By

Ana Gotter

Edited By

Shannon Ullman

Medically Reviewed By

Jerlyn Jones, MS MPA RDN LD CLT

Copy Edited By

Stassi Myer – CE


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Medically reviewed by Adrienne Seitz, MS, RD, LDN, Nutrition — By Ana Gotter — Updated on May 11, 2023

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Myths and Facts About Diarrhea

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, MS, DO on January 28, 2023

Myth. Bland “BRAT” foods — bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast — were once recommended to treat diarrhea. But BRAT foods don’t have enough of other nutrients you need, like protein and fat. You can eat bland foods for the first day or so. But you should return to your normal diet as soon as you can.

Fact. Diarrhea causes you to lose fluids. Losing too much fluid can bring on dehydration, especially in children. A child may be dehydrated if they seem thirsty, has a dry mouth or sunken soft spots on the head (infants), or is urinating less than usual or crying without tears. Adults may have similar symptoms, as well as sunken eyes and lethargy. Call your doctor if you see signs of dehydration. Your doctor may recommend drinking oral rehydration solutions, water, uncaffeinated teas, low-sugar sports drinks, diluted fruit juices, and broths.

Myth. Seasonal flu — or influenza virus — can cause fever, body ache, and general misery, but it rarely causes diarrhea. Influenza is generally a disease of the airways and lungs. The sickness that some people call “stomach flu” can cause diarrhea, but that bug is different from influenza. “Stomach flu” is just a catch-all name for viral gastroenteritis, which is caused by many different germs.

Myth. Greasy, fried foods often make diarrhea worse because they’re hard to digest. But eating a little fat could help ease diarrhea. The slow digestion of fats may reduce diarrhea symptoms. As long as you don’t have a problem absorbing fat, add a teaspoon of mayo, a pat of butter, or a little lean meat to your next meal. It may help with your symptoms.

Fact. Side effects of medications may include diarrhea. For example, antibiotics and some drugs for cancer, depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure may cause diarrhea. If you develop diarrhea after starting a new drug, call your doctor.

Fact. Some people reach for sports drinks or sodas to replenish lost fluids when they have diarrhea. But very sugary foods and drinks — even natural sugars found in fruit — may make diarrhea symptoms worse. During digestion, sugar draws fluid into the intestines, diluting the stools. Some sugar substitutes, like sorbitol, may have the same effect.

Myth. Many parents believe that teething triggers diarrhea in babies. But pediatricians say it’s not true. Your baby may be cranky or irritable during teething. But if they also have diarrhea or a fever, talk to your doctor.

Fact. But it depends on what type of fiber you eat. Soluble fiber, found in beans, peas, oat bran, and peeled fruits and cooked vegetables — absorbs water in the intestines and makes stools firmer. But insoluble fiber — which is found in the skins of raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and wheat bran — may speed up stools as they pass through the intestines.

Fact. The caffeine in coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate might make your bowels work faster. Caffeine works as a stimulant in the intestines, making digestion speed up and causing your bowels to empty faster. Even though decaffeinated coffee has less caffeine than regular, decaf may still have enough caffeine to stimulate your bowels.

Myth. Diarrhea often goes away on its own, so treatment isn’t usually necessary. But over-the-counter diarrhea medications can offer some relief from symptoms. Avoid them if you have a fever or other symptoms, such as bloody stool. Don’t give babies or children any diarrhea medicine unless a pediatrician recommends it.

Fact. According to public health experts, washing your hands is still the best way to fight the germs that cause diarrhea. One review of research found that good hand washing can cut the transmission of infectious diarrhea by almost 40%. Use soap and water — and scrub as long as it takes you to recite the alphabet.

Fact. Yogurt may help people recover from diarrhea faster. The live, natural, “friendly” bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, in some yogurt may help promote healthy digestion. Some studies have found that yogurt with live or active cultures may help prevent diarrhea caused by antibiotics.


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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “What Should You Eat When You Have Diarrhea?”
American Academy of Family Physicians: “BRAT Diet.”
CDC: “Managing Acute Gastroenteritis Among Children,” “Myths about Seasonal Influenza and Influenza Vaccines.
American Academy of Family Physicians: “Vomiting and Diarrhea in Children.”
National Library of Medicine: Medline Plus: “Diarrhea.”
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Diarrhea.”
PubMed Health: “Viral Gastroenteritis.”
The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging: “Diarrhea.”
FDA: “High Blood Pressure — Medicines to Help You.”
Nemours Foundation: “Sorbitol.”
MedlinePlus: “Teething,” “Diarrhea.”
American Dental Association: “Teething.”
HealthyChildren.org: “Teething: 4 to 7 months.”
Medline Plus: “Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber.”
The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging: “Diarrhea.”
Rao, S. European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, February 1998; vol 10(2): pp 113-118.
McCusker, R. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, October 2006; vol 30(8): pp 611-613.
American College of Gastroenterology: “Diarrheal Diseases.”
The Cochrane Library: “Hand washing for preventing diarrhea.”
Luby, S. Journal of the American Medical Association, June 2, 2004; vol 291: pp 2547-2554.
University of Maryland Medical Center: “Lactobacillus acidophilus.”

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Foods to eat and not to eat with diarrhea

A person’s diet is critical if they are experiencing diarrhea. Some foods can help relieve this symptom, while others can make it worse.

What to eat and drink

To relieve diarrhea, it is recommended to eat soft, simple foods that are easy to digest, which will help absorb excess water from the stool. Among them it is worth noting: oatmeal, rice porridge, bananas, plain white rice, bread or toast, boiled potatoes. These foods may be especially helpful on the first day of diarrhea treatment. Frequent consumption of such food in small quantities throughout the day will help improve the functions of the digestive system.

Probiotic foods such as yogurt and kefir may help in some cases, but can sometimes further irritate the digestive system.

Fluids are vital to recovery. Persons with diarrhea should drink plenty of water, during the day it is necessary to drink an additional cup of water after each bowel movement. A large intake of fluid helps prevent dehydration and remove toxins from the body. However, in addition to water, the body also loses minerals and electrolytes. To replenish them, it is recommended to use soup-broth, electrolyte water, sports drinks.

Foods and drinks to avoid

Many foods can aggravate irritation of the digestive system and increase the severity of diarrhea. These include: spicy foods, fried foods, sweets and foods with artificial sweeteners, foods high in fiber, onions and garlic, raw vegetables, foods that lead to gas formation in the intestines (cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower), citrus fruits, fatty meat, including pork and veal, dairy products. You should also avoid carbonated drinks, those containing caffeine, alcohol.

In addition to diet, over-the-counter medications can help manage diarrhea. Persons with diarrhea should also be provided with sufficient rest, as stressful situations can worsen the situation. Physical activity can lead to a higher risk of dehydration and should be limited.

Hospitalization is required if there is blood or mucus in the stool accompanied by fever. In severe cases of diarrhea, hospitalization and intravenous electrolytes may also be required. Diarrhea in children requires special attention. If your child shows any signs of dehydration, seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms include: dry mouth, weight loss, crying without tears.

Many cases of diarrhea last only a few days and are well controlled by home treatments. A simple diet, increased fluid intake, and use of over-the-counter medications as needed can help relieve symptoms quickly. In cases where the body does not respond to these procedures, you should consult a doctor after 2-3 days.

According to www.medicalnewstoday.com

Weak and strong: which foods will relieve constipation and which ones will relieve diarrhea

  • Health

Almost all of us know why you should not eat pickles with milk — after such an experiment, you can sit in the toilet for a long time.

May 15, 2022


In almost half of the cases, diarrhea – loose stools – is due to our eating habits, the use of poorly combined with each other or laxative foods. In addition, diarrhea can be the result of eating spoiled food, a sign of poisoning, an intestinal infection, or an allergic reaction to certain food components. A separate option is lactase deficiency, which many mistakenly take for the “fresh cucumber with milk” or “herring with milk” effect.

The problem here is not the herring or the cucumber, but the whole milk. Many adults and some children do not digest lactose, the milk sugar from milk, poorly. This leads to bloating, fermentation and diarrhea. What other products can affect the stool, whether it is possible to solve digestive problems with their help, the therapist, gastroenterologist of the Moscow Clinic Valeria Trapeznikova told Doctor Peter.

If you want to relax, drink milk

Diarrhea (or more simply, diarrhea, loose stools) is an increase in stool more than 3 times a day. Loose stools and severe diarrhea can be due to many reasons, one of which is the use of foods that form a laxative effect. That is, some products, consumed in a certain amount, change the frequency of stools per day and the nature of feces. These, first of all, include fermented milk products (kefir, fermented baked milk, curdled milk, yogurt).

It is worth noting here that dairy products containing whole cow’s milk (and the milk of any other animal – goat, camel, mare) can additionally cause symptoms of bloating in the abdomen and severe diarrhea. They are not recommended for people who are lactose intolerant. This is a condition in which the intestines lack the enzyme that breaks down milk sugar, lactose.

When there is not enough enzyme (or none at all), lactose, milk sugar, enters the colon. It is inhabited by bacteria that enjoy lactose, producing lactic acid, carbon dioxide and water. Gases accumulate, provoking bloating, lactic acid irritates the intestinal walls – bloating and thinning of the stool occur.

Read also

Fiber will help cure constipation

In addition to fermented milk products, products with fiber (coarse vegetable fibers) can help in eliminating constipation. For example, foods containing a large amount of indigestible or partially digestible fiber have a laxative effect – these are mainly vegetables, fruits, cereals. If you want to help yourself with constipation, consider the following products:

  1. bell pepper

  2. cucumber

  3. spinach

  4. garden greens

    900 36

  5. broccoli

  6. cauliflower

  7. beets ,

  8. green grapes,

  9. plums,

  10. prunes,

  11. dried apricots,

  12. linseed,

  13. whole grain rye bread,

  14. oat bran.

They are recommended for those who suffer from chronic constipation. However, it is important to remember that without enough water, these products will not work as effectively. The fact is that fiber absorbs water, swells. Accordingly, this water must be taken from somewhere. Therefore, to combat constipation, eat vegetables and drink water.

See also

How to stop diarrhea

There is not only a group of products with a pronounced laxative effect. There are also foods that, on the contrary, can fix the stool and complicate the act of defecation, if the stool becomes very hard.

These include:

  1. Rice is the most popular product for acute stool disorders. Rice broth and porridge on the water are recommended for people who suffer from diarrhea on the background of SARS, intestinal infections, acute poisoning or allergies, loosening the stool after taking antibiotics.

  2. Potatoes, jelly and other starchy products. They have an enveloping effect, soothe the intestinal wall, helping to stop diarrhea.

  3. Berries: blueberries, bird cherry, chokeberry. They contain fixing components, astringent and enveloping the walls of the intestine.

  4. Strong black tea – tannins have an astringent effect.

  5. Black and red grapes,

  6. Bananas.

Please note that this is a general product listing. Each person has their own individual reactions to a particular product, and they may differ from the generally accepted ones.

See also

Individual reactions to foods

In some people, but not in the general population, certain foods can cause an acute attack of diarrhea as a variant of food intolerance. Moreover, this is a dose-dependent effect: the more dangerous product is taken, the longer you sit in the toilet, cleansing the intestines. Among the most basic irritants are:

  1. Alcohol, especially wine and beer;

  2. Spicy foods and dishes;

  3. Kiwi, broccoli;

  4. Coffee – some only black, others only with milk;

  5. Products with sweeteners – Sorbitol and fructose from 0% sugar diet drinks are especially weak.