Tips and techniques

BRAT Diet: Food to eat for an upset stomach

If you've found yourself a under the weather, struggling with eating 'normal' foods you once loved, the BRAT diet may hold the answer to getting better - without upsetting your tummy.

If you’ve recently struggled with stomach problems causing vomiting or diarrhoea , your local GP will might instruct you to stick to light – and sometimes bland – foods that won’t irritate your stomach while you recover from your illness.

A great place to start when trying to determine the foods you should stick to is the BRAT diet, consisting of bananas, rice apple sauce or apple puree and toast.

The idea behind BRAT is that these foods are easy to digest and low in fibre.

B: Bananas

Bananas are a great food to eat when you’re sick in the stomach as they’re high in potassium, helping replace nutrients and get your energy levels back up after you’ve had a bout of vomiting or diarrhoea .

They’re best eaten plain, and not too under-ripe so they’re easier to digest. You could also try blending them into smoothies, freezing them when they’re extra ripe and enjoying as a sweet, cool and creamy treat, or mashing them up atop dry toast.

For some tasty ways to include banana in your diet, check out these recipes.

R: Rice

Rice is a great option when you’re starting to eat food following a stomach bug; it can give you a good source of energy-loaded carbohydrates to get you on track to feeling more lively.

For the easiest food on your digestive system, go for plain white rice, instead of brown or black rice which has a firmer, fibrous ‘shell’ that may irritate a sensitive stomach.

It might be worthwhile cooking it a little longer than you normally would, as it’ll be easier to eat the softer you make it.

A: Apple puree

Just like you ate as a little one, apple puree is a wonderfully light option when you start re-introducing solid food into a post-sickness diet.

Apples are a good source of vitamins, minerals and gentle fibre, and when stewed and blended up can be very light on the stomach. It will give you a nice hit of natural sweetness to keep you energy levels up while you’re recovering.

You can make your own apple puree, or find it packaged in all good supermarkets.

T: Toast

Now, we’re not talking about a slice of your cafe’s best cinnamon-raisin brioche with a generous lashing of butter (although, you’re going to want to tuck into this as soon as you’re feeling better!). Rather, stick to plain toasted white or brown bread, avoiding anything with added nuts or seeds for easier digestion.

When you’re ready to start re-introducing toppings, keep it light and avoid anything too fatty like butter, margarine or avocado. Light fruit spreads, jams and conserves may be easier on your tummy.

Try making your own white bread for a tummy-friendly breakfast alternative.

When to avoid the BRAT diet?

When you’re actively vomiting or have diarrhoea, doctors generally advise you steer clear of solid foods (even those included on the BRAT diet), and instead stick to clear liquids while you’re physically being sick.

Your doctor may recommend using a replenishing electrolyte drink to avoid dehydration during this time.

How long to follow the BRAT diet?

Both adults and kids shouldn’t follow the diet long term as it’s low in necessary fibre and may cause you to become malnourished.

Once vomiting or diarrhoea has subsided, you should try and start re-introducing a normal, solid diet after about 24-48 hours.

Always consult with your GP or an accredited dietitian before changing your diet, and if you have any sickness and health related questions.

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