A diarrhoea diet is the foods that you should eat during and immediately after a bout of diarrhoea. These foods will be less likely to aggravate the diarrhoea or trigger another spell of diarrhoea once your condition settles. Every case of diarrhoea should be investigated and you should not try to manage your diarrhoea at home without medical treatment.
Fluids During Diarrhoea
When you have a runny tummy, you may not want to eat any solid food. While drinking fluids only will suffice for a day or two, you should not avoid food altogether for long periods of time. The lack of nutrition will lower your immune system and not allow you to recover or other medical conditions may develop.
If you are sticking to fluids only, then don’t only drink water. This is not sufficient as you will need electrolytes (salts) and a source of energy like carbohydrates. Avoid energy drinks and carbonated beverages. The preservatives, colourants and flavouring within these drinks may aggravate your diarrhoea.
Speak to your pharmacist and buy a rehydrating solution which is usually available as a powder or granules that can be dissolved in water. Alternatively you you can opt for a cheaper home remedy where you mix 8 teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt into litre of clean water. You can use this as your rehydrating solution.
Foods After Diarrhea
Once your bowel movements settle to some extent and if you have regained your appetite, you may want to start on small amounts of food. The basic foods that are less likely to aggravate you diarrhoea are :
- Bananas, mashed.
- Rice, soft.
- Apples, grated.
- Toast, soft with no butter, margarine, jam or peanut butter.
This is known as the BRAT diet and is the simplest way to introduce food to your bowels. Home made soup is always an option but avoid large chunks of vegetables and meat and do not use spices. Rather drink small amounts of the broth. Do not opt for sachet soups available in supermarkets as the additives within these food products may aggravate your diarrhoea.
Avoid milk, alcohol, foods and drinks with preservatives. Fruit juices may may also aggravate diarrhoea.
Persistent Diarrhoea After a Tummy Bug or Antibiotics
If your diarrhoea has not eased despite medical treatment, then your ‘good’ bowel bacteria (intestinal flora) may be lacking. This can occur due to the bowel condition that you just experienced or may be a result of certain antibiotics. In these cases, it is not the food that is causing the diarrhoea but rather a lack of ‘good’ bacteria.You may experience explosive or watery diarrhoea after eating, stomach cramps and abdominal gas bloating with flatulence.
Do not eat large amounts of probiotic yoghurt to restore your good bowel bacteria as the lactose may aggravate the condition. You will need to take a course of capsules containing Saccharomyces boulardii which will help restore your normal intestinal flora. This product is available in all pharmacies in South Africa under various brand names like Interflora. You will not need a prescription and your pharmacist will advise you on how to use it.