How to Eat When You Have Diarrhea

Young woman blowing a spoonful of hot soup
Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

How to eat when you suffer from chronic diarrhea can be just as important as what you eat. Follow these four easy guidelines to ensure that your eating habits are not contributing to your diarrhea problems.

1. Avoid Large Meals

IBS patients are often quick to identify specific trigger foods. While it may be true that some foods are more irritating than others to the GI tract, sometimes a violent reaction after eating a certain food may be due simply to the size of the meal.

Large meals can contribute to a strengthening of intestinal contractions, thereby triggering urgency and diarrhea.

2. Avoid High Fat Meals

Meals that contain a high level of fat can also add to the strength of intestinal contractions. Therefore, avoid fried, greasy and creamy foods.

3. Eat Small Meals Throughout Your Day

Patients who suffer from diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D) often try to keep their system empty in an attempt to prevent unwanted diarrhea episodes. It is actually better for your GI system if you eat smaller meals throughout the day. This helps your system to operate according to a smoother rhythm and reduces your risk of eating an overly large meal later in the day (you won't be as hungry).

4. Introduce New Foods When Your System Is Quieter

Although there is the tendency to blame specific foods for a diarrhea episode, other factors such as stress and hormonal changes could be the true culprits.

Unnecessary food restriction can lead to nutritional deficits. In order to expand your food repertoire, test out suspected foods at a time when your system and your life are quieter.


Sjolund, K., Ekman, R., Lindgren, S. & Rehfeld, J. “Disturbed motilin and cholecystokinin release in the irritable bowel syndrome.Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 1996 31:1110-1114.

Whorwell, P. “Dietary Aspects of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)” DigestiveHealth Matters, 2007 16:6-7.

Continue Reading