The Best Things to Eat When You Have Diarrhea

9 Foods That May Help You Find Relief

Is your stomach acting up? Maybe you ate the wrong things, maybe you are under stress, or maybe you have absolutely no idea why your stomach is feeling so lousy. It is hard to know what to eat without making things worse.

The basic BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) is a good start. Here is a quick guide as to why the BRAT diet helps, as well as some other choices that are safe and soothing.


Close-up of a woman's hand breaking the top of a banana
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Bland and easily digested, bananas are a good choice to settle an upset digestive system. The high level of potassium in bananas helps to replace electrolytes that may be lost by severe bouts of diarrhea.

Bananas are also rich in pectin, a soluble fiber that helps to absorb liquid in the intestines and thus move stool along smoothly.

Bananas also contain a good amount of inulin, another soluble fiber. Inulin is a prebiotic, a substance that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in the intestinal system.


bowl of applesauce
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Like bananas, apples are a good source of pectin. However, the high fiber in raw apples makes them too rough for a dicey intestinal system.

Cooking the apples makes them easier on your system to digest. This allows you to benefit from the pectin, sugar, and other nutrients that lie within.

Mashed Potatoes

bowl of mashed potatoes
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Talk about comfort food! Due to their low-fiber content, white potatoes are easily digested way up high in the GI tract. Eat your potatoes plain; butter has a high fat content, which could be irritating to your system and contribute to intestinal cramping.

White Rice

bowl of white rice
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Similar to mashed potatoes, plain white rice is also easy on your digestive system. Rice also has a reputation for being "binding," which means that it can help to firm up your loose stool.

Steamed Chicken

chicken in a colander to be steamed
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Due to its bland nature, steamed white meat chicken is an easily digested source of protein. This provides a fairly safe way to get some nutrients into your body.

Butter and oils are very hard on a delicate system, so avoid deep-fried or sautéed preparations.


bowl of plain yogurt
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It is generally recommended that dairy products be avoided during acute diarrhea episodes. Yogurt is a major exception to this rule.

Look for yogurt that contains live or active cultures, or more specifically Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. These active cultures are probiotics and they appear to help  establish a healthier balance of bacteria in the digestive tract.

Read the label carefully and choose a brand that does not have a high sugar level or does not contain artificial sweeteners. Both of those can contribute to excessive intestinal gas and loose stools.


bowl of blueberries
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Reportedly, dried blueberries have a long history of use in Sweden as a treatment for diarrhea. Dr. Varro Tyler in his book, ​"Herbs of Choice," recommends either chewing dried blueberries or making a tea by boiling crushed dried blueberries for about 10 minutes.

The helpfulness of blueberries for diarrhea appears to be due to the fact that they contain tannins, which act as an astringent, contracting tissue and reducing inflammation and secretion of liquids and mucus.

Blueberries also contain substances called anthocyanosides, which have antibacterial properties, as well as being a good source of antioxidants.

Lastly, blueberries are another source of the soluble fiber pectin.

Pureed Pumpkin

pureed pumpkin
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There is an old-wives tale that pumpkin is good for diarrhea. As far as I can tell, pumpkin has never been put to the test, but looking at its nutritional profile, it is not a bad option.

Just be sure to buy 100% pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling, which may have ingredients that are not right for your current digestive sensitivity. 

Peppermint Tea

cup of peppermint tea
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Okay, this is a drink, but talk about soothing! There is nothing like sipping a warm cup of tea for a feeling of comfort. ​

Peppermint has a soothing effect on the gastrointestinal system. It is thought to calm and relax the muscles along the intestinal tract, thus reducing spasms. Peppermint also seems to be effective in reducing intestinal gas.

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When You Are Feeling Better

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You cannot live on tea and mashed vegetables forever! But as your stomach starts to settle down, you may still need to feed it gingerly until you feel that things have truly returned to normal.

You can start to incorporate soups, steamed vegetables and lightly prepared lean protein. ​Get specific suggestions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner...

Chronic Problems with Diarrhea?

Female doctor talking with a female patient.
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The food suggestions in this article are intended to be your best choices when dealing with acute symptoms of diarrhea. If you find that you are dealing with chronic diarrhea, you need to inform your doctor so you can get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

If you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may find relief from your chronic diarrhea by following a low-FODMAP diet.


Tyler VE, Awang D. Tyler's Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals (3rd ed.). CRC Press; 2009.

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