A Guide to the BRAT Diet

Helpful Foods for Vomiting, Diarrhea, or Other GI Issues

BRAT diet of bowl of rice, applesauce, and toast with bananas

Verywell / Zorica Lakonic

The BRAT diet is an eating plan that pediatricians used to recommend for babies and children with stomach issues like the stomach flu and diarrhea.

"BRAT" stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods are low in protein, fat, and fiber, which makes them easier to digest.

The BRAT diet may be helpful for the short term, but healthcare providers no longer recommend it for sick children, since it lacks many important nutrients.

What Is the BRAT Diet?

Past medical practice advocated a low-fiber, easily digestible diet for people who were recovering from an acute stomach illness involving vomiting and/or diarrhea.

An acronym was coined as a simple way for people to remember a set of bland foods that they might best tolerate when ill:

  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

Eating the foods that are part of the BRAT diet may relieve stomach issues because the foods:

  • Are gentle on the stomach. The foods included are low in both fat and protein, which means they are less likely to irritate the stomach and put stress on the digestive system.
  • Produce firmer stools. The diet includes low-starch and low-fiber foods, which discourages loose and runny stools.
  • Reduce nausea and vomiting. Because the foods in the diet are bland and don’t have strong smells, the diet reduces nausea and vomiting. Moreover, it offers symptom relief.


There are also two other versions of the BRAT diet. These incorporate the same foods as the standard BRAT diet, plus an additional item:

  • BRATT: Add decaffeinated tea
  • BRATTY: Add yogurt

Why the BRAT Diet Is No Longer Recommended

The American Academy of Pediatrics no longer recommends the BRAT diet for management of diarrhea in children. Instead, it recommends oral hydration therapies using re-hydration drinks. 

Using the BRAT diet for short periods, usually less than 48 hours, is unlikely to cause any harm. However, prolonged use of the BRAT diet can be dangerous because the diet does not contain enough calories, protein, fat, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

Research on the BRAT Diet

Despite the fact the BRAT diet is well known and has anecdotal support, there is surprisingly a lack of research on its effectiveness and risks.

There is some limited research suggesting bananas and rice are helpful in reducing diarrhea symptoms.

One 2010 study found children with diarrhea who followed a green banana supplement diet recovered faster than children who did not.

A 2016 study found a rice soup diet was effective in treating diarrhea in children. 

Alternatives to the BRAT Diet

It may be a good idea to modify the BRAT diet and add other bland foods, including clear broths, saltine crackers, and oatmeal.

It's OK to give small children dry, plain cereals like Cheerios while following the BRAT diet.

For longer-term relief, however, you'll need to make sure you give your child a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Beneficial bacteria called probiotics may help shorten the course of diarrhea. Natural yogurt, kefir, miso soup, and fermented vegetables (e.g., sauerkraut) are great options.

While recovering from stomach symptoms and re-introducing solid foods into your diet, it is essential to keep yourself well-hydrated too. In addition to drinking water and tea, other helpful choices are clear broth and electrolyte-containing drinks, such as sports drinks.

With vomiting, only introduce solid foods after you have been able to hold down liquids for several hours without a vomiting episode.

What Not to Eat

Pay attention to all the foods you are eating while managing diarrhea and vomiting. Avoid the following foods:

  • Spicy foods
  • Fatty foods, including fried foods, greasy foods, and junk foods
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Dairy
  • Sugary desserts
  • Beans and vegetables that cause gas, such as broccoli and cauliflower (especially raw)
  • Heavy proteins, including pork, steak, and salmon

Save lighter proteins like white meat chicken and eggs until the third day of your recovery.

A Word From Verywell

While following the BRAT diet can be helpful, there are times when your symptoms could be a sign of something that requires more attention than a change in how you eat. Know when it's time to see the healthcare provider (if not for the first time, then again), and be sure to get his OK before taking any anti-diarrhea medications. In some cases, these treatments may worsen your symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are there alternatives to the BRAT diet?

    Yes, there are alternatives to the BRAT diet. Other stomach-soothing foods include saltine crackers, clear broth, oatmeal, and sauerkraut, but there are many more. Be sure to add a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats if you follow a bland diet for more than a few days.

  • Is the BRAT diet good for IBS?

    The BRAT diet might ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but it's only meant to be followed for a short period of time due to the risk of nutritional deficiencies.

  • When should you go to the ER for stomach pain?

    There are many times when persistent stomach pain warrants an immediate evaluation. For example, go to the ER if you are pregnant, have had abdominal surgery, or have other symptoms like dizziness or pain in the neck.

4 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. Rabbani GH, Larson CP, Islam R, Saha UR, Kabir A. Green banana-supplemented diet in the home management of acute and prolonged diarrhoea in children: a community-based trial in rural Bangladesh. Trop Med Int Health. 2010;15(10):1132-9. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2010.02608.x

  2. 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;5(2):e25852. doi:10.17795/nmsjournal25852

  3. Guarino A, Guandalini S, Lo vecchio A. Probiotics for Prevention and Treatment of Diarrhea. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2015;49 Suppl 1:S37-45. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000349

  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Irritable bowel syndrome treatments aren't one-size-fits-all. December 13, 2017.

Additional Reading

By Barbara Bolen, PhD
Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.