Foods for a Post-Diarrhea Diet

How to Maintain Good Nutrition While Recovering

Chicken broth soup with crackers and rice cakes

Verywell / Zorica Lakonic

When you're recovering from diarrhea, you need to choose your food carefully. Many people stick to the BRAT diet. This is a bland diet that includes bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. No one can live on the BRAT diet forever, though.

Diarrhea can have many causes, from a virus to a condition like diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D). No matter the cause, you need to make sure you're getting the right nutrients. This means moving beyond the BRAT diet.

This article discusses some of the foods you can eat while recovering from diarrhea. It also offers some tips for staying hydrated.

Safe foods for a post-diarrhea diet.

Verywell / Laura Porter

The BRAT Diet

The BRAT diet has long been used as a home remedy for diarrhea. Research, however, suggests it may not be good for all people, especially children.

Limiting your diet to bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast can quickly deprive you of much-needed energy and important nutrients, including:

Should You Eat Fiber After You've Had Diarrhea?

You may have heard you should avoid fiber when you have diarrhea. This is not necessarily true.

There are two different types of fiber:

  • Soluble fiber can be dissolved in water. It ferments readily in the colon. This type of fiber can be prebiotic. This means it acts as food for healthy bacteria in the stomach. It also delays the speed at which stools pass through and exit the body.
  • Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in the body. Instead, it absorbs water as it passes through the digestive tract. This softens and loosens stools.

When recovering from diarrhea, focus on foods with soluble fiber, like oatmeal. This will help the good bacteria in your intestines recover while building more solid stools.

Recap

It is okay to eat soluble fiber after you've had diarrhea. This fiber dissolves in water and can help slow the speed at which stools exit your body.

Breakfast Foods

You can keep eating bananas, applesauce, and toast while you recover. It is also important to include some protein and probiotic foods. Probiotic foods like yogurt contain healthy microorganisms.

Safe breakfast items include:

  • Crisp rice cereal
  • Eggs boiled or scrambled with minimal butter or oil
  • Oatmeal, cream of wheat, farina, or rice porridge
  • Plain, low-fat yogurt with live bacterial cultures
  • Pancakes or waffles without syrup
  • Unflavored rice cakes

Note that you'll need to choose pancakes or waffles that do not contain fully or partially hydrogenated oils, which are unhealthy fats.

You can have a small amount of nonfat milk with your cereal. Otherwise, avoid it. With the exception of yogurt, dairy tends to contribute to diarrhea symptoms.

Except for bananas and applesauce, you should also avoid eating fruit. This includes fresh apples.

Lunch and Dinner Foods

Focus on increasing your protein intake during lunch and dinner. Avoid eating too much fat. You can also add certain carbohydrates to bind watery stools.

Safe food options include:

  • Canned tuna packed in water, not oil
  • A small portion of lean chicken, turkey, or pork
  • Chicken broth
  • Crackers
  • Salty pretzels
  • Plain pasta or noodles
  • Sandwich on white bread with lean lunch meat
  • Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or winter squash
  • A small portion of carrots, green beans, mushrooms, beets, asparagus tips, or peeled zucchini
  • A vegetable soup made with the ingredients listed above

Avoid eating whole grains while you recover.

White rice is good for treating diarrhea, but avoid whole grains like:

  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Bulgar
  • Millet

These foods can make diarrhea worse.

The Low FODMAP Diet

If your diarrhea is related to IBS, a low-FODMAP diet may help. This diet restricts certain carbohydrate-containing foods.

The acronym comes from the names of simple sugars that are hard for your body to absorb:

  • FO: Fermentable oligosaccharides, found in foods like wheat, onions, and garlic
  • D: Disaccharides, lactose-containing foods like milk, yogurt, and ice-cream
  • M: Monosaccharides, found in honey and some fruits
  • A: And
  • P: Polyols, found in some fruits and sweeteners

Unlike the BRAT diet, you can stay on the FODMAP diet longer. It's intended to help identify the foods that trigger your symptoms, so you can avoid them and add back the others on the list above. It's important to work with a dietitian to make sure you're getting the right nutrition.

Recap

If your diarrhea is related to IBS, talk to a dietitian about the low-FODMAP diet. This diet limits certain kinds of sugars that are hard for your body to absorb.

Hydration Tips

Diarrhea causes the rapid depletion of water from your system. It also depletes electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals your body needs for many functions.

To compensate for this, you will need to keep replacing fluids. This is true even if you are having a hard time keeping them down.

If you have a loose bowel movement, drink at least one cup of fluid right afterwards. Water is best, but you can also drink a sugar-free sports drink. This will help replace lost electrolytes.

As your stomach gets stronger, you'll need to increase your water intake. Aim for between eight and 10 glasses of clear fluid per day. Water is the best choice.

Non-caffeinated, herbal teas are great for soothing stomachs. Avoid caffeinated drinks, though. This includes coffee, tea, and soda. Carbonated water may help reduce queasiness, but avoid fizzy sodas or sugary drinks. These can make diarrhea worse.

Recap

It is very important to stay hydrated during and after a bout of diarrhea. Make sure to drink at least one cup of water after every loose bowel movement.

Summary

It is important to get enough nutrients while you're recovering from diarrhea. A strict BRAT diet will not give you all the nutrients you need.

You can eat fiber while you're recovering, as long as it's soluble fiber. Add some protein to your breakfast and eat probiotic foods like yogurt. Avoid other dairy products. Increase your protein intake during lunch and dinner. Avoid fats and whole grains. 

If your diarrhea is related to IBS, talk to a dietitian about a low-FODMAP diet.

It is important to stay hydrated while you recover. Drink a cup of water every time you have a loose bowel movement. Work up to eight to 10 glasses of water a day. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When can I resume my normal diet after having diarrhea?

    A good rule of thumb is to wait until you've passed a normal, soft, formed stool. At that point, you should be able to go back to eating normally.

  • Are there foods I shouldn't eat after I have diarrhea?

    At first, steer clear of:

    • Fried foods
    • Fruits and vegetables that can make you gassy, like prunes and broccoli
    • Alcohol
    • Caffeine
    • Carbonated beverages

    Limit your intake of milk products, too. You'll be able to resume eating these foods once you start having normal bowel movements.

Was this page helpful?
5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Family Physician. Gastroenteritis in children: treating dehydration.

  2. Mcrorie JW, Mckeown NM. Understanding the physics of functional fibers in the gastrointestinal tract: an evidence-based approach to resolving enduring misconceptions about insoluble and soluble fiber. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017;117(2):251-264. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2016.09.021

  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatment for diarrhea.

  4. University of Michigan. Diarrhea and vomiting.

  5. MedlinePlus. When you have diarrhea.

Additional Reading