Foods for a Post-Diarrhea Diet

How to Maintain Good Nutrition While Recovering

Chicken broth soup with crackers and rice cakes

Verywell / Zorica Lakonic

Recovering from diarrhea requires a careful selection of what you do or don't eat. However, no one can live on the BRAT diet indefinitely. Whether you are just getting over a bout of gastroenteritis or suffer from diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D), at some point you will need to expand your diet to ensure the proper intake of nutrients.

Safe foods for a post-diarrhea diet.
Laura Porter / Verywell

While the BRAT diet—consisting of banana, rice, applesauce, and toast—has long been considered an effective home remedy for diarrhea, recent research suggests that it may not be appropriate for all people, especially children.

Moreover, limiting a diet to these four foods can severely quickly deprive a person of much-needed energy, fat, protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and calcium.

Dietary Principles

Once you've gone through the acute symptoms of diarrhea, many people will advise you to avoid fiber because it can contribute to watery stools. But, this is not necessarily true. It depends largely on the type of dietary fiber you consume:

  • Soluble fiber can be dissolved in water and readily ferment in the colon. These types of fiber can be prebiotic, adding to healthy bacteria in the stomach, while delaying the speed by which stools pass through and exit the body.
  • Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in the body but rather absorbs water as it passes through the digestive tract, softening and loosing stools in the process.

As such, you will need to focus on foods with soluble fiber to aid in the recovery of your intestinal flora while building more solid stools.

Some gastroenterologists will also recommend a low-FODMAP diet for people with IBS. The diet involves the restriction of certain carbohydrate-containing foods described by the acronym FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols).

Unlike the BRAT diet, the FODMAP diet can be maintained on a long-term basis, ideally under the supervision of a dietitian to ensure that adequate nutrition is being consumed.

Breakfast Foods

While bananas, applesauce, and toast can continue to fit into the dietary routine, you will want to add some protein and probiotic foods as well (such as yogurt).

Safe breakfast items include:

  • Crisp rice cereal
  • Eggs boiled or scrambled with a minimum of butter or oil
  • Oatmeal, cream of wheat, farina, or rice porridge
  • Plain, low-fat yogurt with live bacterial culture
  • Pancakes or waffles without syrup (check to ensure the product or mix does not contain fully or even partially hydrogenated oils)
  • Unflavored rice cakes

For the moment, you will want to skip anything but a small portion of non-fat milk with your cereal. With the exception of yogurt, dairy tends to contribute to diarrhea symptoms rather than resolve them. Similarly, with the exception of bananas, avoid eating fruit. This includes fresh apples.

Lunch and Dinner Foods

Lunch and dinner would focus on the increased intake of protein, the avoidance of excessive fats, and the addition of certain carbohydrates to help 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 with lean lunch meat (avoid whole-grain bread)
  • 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

While white rice is beneficial to treating diarrhea, avoid barley, brown rice, bulgar, millet, or similar whole grains which can make diarrhea worse.

Hydration Tips

Diarrhea causes the rapid depletion of water and electrolytes from the system. To compensate for this, you will need to replace fluids on an ongoing basis even if you are finding it hard to keep them down.

If you have a loose bowel movement, drink at least 1 cup of fluid immediately after. While water is best, some people will choose sugar-free sports drink to help replace lost electrolytes. Thereafter, as your stomach gets stronger, you will need to increase your intake to between eight and 10 glasses for clear fluid (ideally water) per day.

While non-caffeinated, herbal teas are great for soothing stomachs, avoid any caffeinated drink including coffee, tea, or soda. Similarly, while carbonated water may help reduce queasiness, avoid fizzy sodas or sugary drinks that can make diarrhea worse.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long should I wait to eat after having diarrhea?

    A good rule of thumb for timing your first food after having diarrhea 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.

  • What are the best foods to eat after I have diarrhea?

    Stick to relatively bland foods at first, but make sure to eat a balanced diet: Don't avoid foods that are important for supplying essential nutrients. Good choices include baked or broiled meat, poultry, and fish; eggs; baked goods made with refined flour (so as not to overdo your fiber intake); and cooked vegetables such as beets, asparagus, squash, and potatoes that aren't likely to cause gas. You may be a bit dehydrated, too, so drink plenty of water.

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

    At first after having severe diarrhea, steer clear of fried foods; fruits and vegetables that can make you gassy (like prunes and broccoli): and alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages. Limit your intake of milk products as well. You'll be able to resume eating these foods once you start having normal bowel movements.

  • Are there foods I should try to eat while I have diarrhea?

    If you feel your stomach can handle some food while you have diarrhea, try something salty like pretzels or soup, or foods high in potassium, such as bananas or skinless potatoes. These will help prevent an imbalance of electrolytes. Drink lots of clear liquids, especially after having a loose bowel movement. You might also ask your healthcare provider about drinking sports drinks or a fiber supplement.

Was this page helpful?
Article 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. Gastroenteritis in Children: Treating Dehydration. American Family Physician. Jun 1, 2012.

  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. Treatment for Diarrhea. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Nov 1, 2016.

  4. University of Michigan. University Health Service.

  5. MedlinePlus. When you have diarrhea. Oct 2, 2019.

Additional Reading