A guide to the BRAT diet, benefits and foods to avoid
Most of us can remember at least once when we got the stomach bug when we were kids. You might remember how bad you felt, so even going to school would have been more fun than watching your favorite cartoons or TV shows while sick on the couch.
When you finally started to regain your ability to retain food, your mom, dad, or caretaker probably tried to get you to eat a few bites of plain toast, white rice, or something else very bland and easy to digest.
The BRAT diet is all about easing upset stomachs with easily digestible foods. Following the BRAT diet when you have the stomach flu, diarrhea, or nausea can be a helpful way to keep your strength up without exacerbating your gastrointestinal symptoms.
While we hope you don’t feel uncomfortable, if you need a relief remedy for nausea and loose stools, keep reading our guide to the BRAT diet.
What is the BRAT diet?
The BRAT Diet, which is an acronym that stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast, is a diet designed to help treat and support stomach issues in children and adults.
By focusing on four easily digestible foods, the BRAT diet limits fiber intake to reduce the severity of diarrhea and firm stools. It has always been recommended by pediatricians to treat diarrhea in children.
How long should you follow the BRAT diet?
Unlike most popular diets like keto, vegan, and paleo, the BRAT diet is not meant to be a lifestyle diet followed for an extended period of time; rather, it’s a way to nourish yourself while you have diarrhea, nausea, and other digestive issues without overwhelming your gastrointestinal system as much as richer foods.
The BRAT diet should only be followed until you can begin to tolerate more nutritious foods. It is very low in protein, fiber, fat, vitamins and minerals, so it should not be kept beyond what is needed, as this can lead to deficiencies and malnutrition.
If diarrhea and severe nausea persist beyond two days, or if there are problems with dehydration or malnutrition, you should see your health care provider immediately.
What can you eat on the BRAT diet?
BRAT’s staple diet consists only of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods are gentle on the stomach because they are low in fiber and consist mostly of simple carbohydrates. For this reason, they are considered “binding foods” because they can firm up the stool.
Bananas are high in potassium and magnesium and contain mostly simple carbohydrates, so they are easier to digest than fruits like apples and berries. Since they contain electrolytes, bananas are an important part of the BRAT diet to replace electrolytes lost in stool and vomiting.
If you are caring for a sick child, you can mash the bananas to make them easier to eat. If you’re really nauseous and can’t imagine eating, you can freeze an unpeeled banana and cut small slices and suck on them.
The rice you eat on the BRAT diet should be white rice because it has less fiber and is easier on the stomach than brown rice. Avoid heavy seasoning; a light pinch of sea salt is ideal. Sauces and spices can upset the stomach.
Applesauce is easy to digest and can maintain blood sugar levels. You can make your own or buy premade pots or cups. Avoid heavy seasoning with cinnamon.
Toast should be plain or prepared simply with a small knob of butter until richer toppings are tolerable. The BRAT diet focuses on low-fiber choices, so white bread or potato bread is preferred over whole-wheat or high-fiber breads with bran.
Can you eat anything else on the BRAT diet?
Although the traditional BRAT diet includes only bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, some pediatricians and healthcare providers claim that any bland food can be incorporated into the diet during stomach illnesses. stomach. Here are some other examples of bland foods:
- clear broth
- Saltines or water crackers
- Plain rice cakes
- Boiled, steamed or mashed white potatoes
- Apple juice
- flat soda
- dry cereals; simple, low-fiber flavors, such as Rice Chex, Cheerios, and Rice Krispies
- Plain hot cereal such as cream of wheat or rolled oats
What foods can’t you eat on the BRAT diet?
Aside from the basics of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, and potentially the other bland foods mentioned, the BRAT diet pretty much excludes all other foods.
Foods to avoid on the BRAT diet include:
- Meat, poultry, fish and other forms of protein
- Milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products
- Tofu or soy
- Raw or cooked vegetables
- citrus fruits
- Nut butters
- acidic foods
- fried food
- Spicy foods
- High Fiber Foods
How to Follow the BRAT Diet
If you or your child have a stomach condition or bad diarrhea, you might consider the BRAT diet. Here is a basic overview of how to follow the BRAT diet:
- If you are vomiting or the diarrhea is severe, wait to eat until the symptoms have subsided.
- Suck on ice, popsicles, or sports drinks if you can to stay hydrated and maintain proper electrolyte levels.
- Try apple juice or clear broth for the first 24 hours, and see if you can tolerate it and reduce it. Otherwise, continue to rest your stomach.
- On the second day, start following the BRAT diet as tolerated.
- On day three, start adding foods like scrambled eggs, chicken noodle soup, or cooked white meat to your diet if you can, listening to your body’s needs and tolerance levels.
Does the BRAT diet work?
There is little research on the effectiveness of the BRAT diet, although common practice is still to follow the BRAT diet, or a modified bland diet, during stomach illnesses. It’s low in fiber, so the BRAT diet is said to slow digestion and calm the intestines.
It’s important to remember that the BRAT diet is not meant for long-term adherence. If your symptoms do not improve within a day or two on the BRAT diet, you should see a doctor.