Foods To Eat When You Have Diarrhea

When Diarrhea Strikes, Changing Your Diet to These Foods May Help

Most adults experience diarrhea several times a year, which can be the result of a virus, a bacteria, or even from stress. People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may experience diarrhea on a more frequent basis, and especially while in a flare-up.

While in the middle of a bout of diarrhea, eating might not seem important. Many people might not feel like eating at all, or at the very least, may decide a change of diet would be the best course of action. The goal should be to get back to a healthy diet as soon as possible, but in the meantime, everyone has to eat, even when diarrhea is a problem. Avoiding food altogether is not option, so instead, focusing on foods that might help slow things down might be helpful. Here are some foods that may be easier on the digestive tract.

Bananas

Bananas
Bananas can be helpful for diarrhea for several different reasons. Image © pachd

Bananas are sometimes referred to as a “perfect” food. This is possibly because of their high nutritional content, which includes vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium. Bananas also contain about 3 grams of soluble fiber, which can both slow down diarrhea and reduce constipation. It is the fiber content and the potassium content that are helpful in cases of diarrhea. Diarrhea depletes the body of several vitamins and minerals, including potassium, and eating a banana or two can help restore the balance.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal
A bowl of oatmeal is nutritious, can help prevent heart disease, and may help slow down diarrhea. Image © Yaroslav B

Oatmeal is a popular morning meal that contains high amounts of some vitamins and minerals, including manganese, vitamin B1, chromium, and zinc. A cup of oatmeal also contains 4 grams of fiber, which is largely soluble. One caveat with oatmeal: plain, cooked oatmeal will have the most fiber. Instant oatmeal, especially that which contains high amounts of sugar, milk products, or additives, may not have the same beneficial effects. Instead, flavor your oatmeal with some bananas for maximum nutritional punch.

Applesauce

Applesauce
Applesauce is a soft food that can go easy on your digestive tract when it's not fit for more solid foods. Image © Getty / Smneedham

Applesauce is a favorite food for many children, and it’s often eaten when kids come down with an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea. The reason is twofold: applesauce is easily digested, and it contains a substance called pectin. Pectin is a form of fiber that is used as a thickener in jellies, jams, and other foods. Pectin works much the same way in the intestine, bulking up stool and making it thicker.

Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is not only helpful for diarrhea, but it also contains a lot of nutrients. Image © Abel Leemans

Peanut butter is high in fat, but 2 tablespoons also contain 1.9 grams of fiber, as well as protein, vitamin B6, and magnesium. When dealing with diarrhea and a low appetite, getting enough protein can be a struggle, which makes peanut butter a good choice. People who are allergic to peanuts should obviously not eat peanut butter, and people who have IBD should choose the smooth variety.

Rice

White Rice
Plain rice can help for diarrhea, and is easily digested. Image © Lionel Titu

One cup of rice is low in sugar, high in carbohydrates, and contains 3.5 grams of fiber. Plain rice is also easily digested, which makes it easier on the digestive tract during a bout of diarrhea. Rice should be plain, with no additives or spices, although cooking it in chicken broth (for those with IBD who do not have a sensitivity to chicken) may give it more taste

Toast

Toast
Dry white toast tends to be something that people with IBD eat when diarrhea strikes. Image © brofosifo

Dry, white toast is often recommended to people who have diarrhea, and it may seem a strange food to eat when you’re not feeling well. Toasting bread, however, makes it easier to digest. Toast should be eaten without butter or other spreads, but instead accompanied by plenty of water or another clear liquid

Eating Right For Your Body

People with IBD need to be very careful about their diet. IBD can lead to dehydration and vitamin deficiencies fairly quickly. Diarrhea happens so frequently, that people with IBD might not be able to discuss it with a doctor right away, or every time it happens. In these cases, backing the diet down to some foods that can slow diarrhea down might be helpful. However, prolonged diarrhea should always be reported to a gastroenterologist and the diet should be brought back to normal as soon as possible.

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