Isn’t it funny when doctors advise you to let diarrhea “run its course?” Okay, it might not be funny at the time but it is after you’ve stopped running to the toilet. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a list of foods that would help stop diarrhea?
Right now, an awful stomach bug is running through my neighborhood. It didn’t last long when the kids had it, but it’s taking a toll on their parents. It doesn’t seem right that the parents nursing their kids through the stomach bug are getting hit harder by the same virus.
This virus is so nasty that it is followed by congestion and an awful lingering cough. Sound familiar? I thought so too but numerous negative Covid and Flu tests said otherwise. My doctor said it’s a “weird bug” going around. It’s awful. Terrible, even.
There are also news reports of a norovirus outbreak in the United States.
Of course, diarrhea can have many other causes. Common causes range from irritable bowel syndrome, foodborne pathogens, food allergies, and gastroenteritis, to viral infections. Despite the cause, diarrhea is almost always uncomfortable and inconvenient, to say the least.
The frequent bowel movements and watery stool put sufferers at risk of dehydration, which can be serious.
Avoid Dehydration From Diarrhea
The key to feeling better faster is to stay hydrated. Granted, this is extremely difficult when you run to the bathroom every time you take a sip of water.
Dehydration is a severe risk and sends thousands of people to the emergency room each year.
Here are a few tips for staying hydrated:
- take frequent, small sips
- let fluids come to room temperature
Some soothing fluids to try if you can’t keep water down (or in):
- chamomile tea (this tea has stomach-soothing and calming properties)
- flat ginger ale (the bubbles may make you feel worse so let it sit for a bit before drinking)
- coconut water
- Gatorade, Pedialyte, electrolyte replacements
Note that I listed the electrolyte replacements last. Personally, Pedialyte and Gatorade tend to make me feel worse when I am in throes of illness though they are often recommended by physicians.
Try Bland, “Binding” Foods to Stop Diarrhea in its Tracks.
First off, I know that you can purchase medication over the counter to stop diarrhea. However, there’s a fine line between slowing your bowel movements and stopping them. You can easily give yourself constipation when taking medication and both my doctor and our pediatrician have advised us to avoid it when suffering from a stomach virus. This is why we try to soothe our symptoms with food.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the “BRAT” diet. It stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Oddly, there is quite a bit of controversy over whether or not this is good for diarrhea recovery. However, rice and toast share a trait that particularly helps with diarrhea.
These high-starch, bland, food items bind and firm-up poop, slowing your bowel movements. Keep in mind that, these are not the foods you want to eat when you are constipated! These foods harden stool and have very little nutritional content. They simply help relieve watery, frequent bowel movements so that you can slowly move on to more nutrient-packed food without making diarrhea worse.
- Plain steamed white rice
- Plain white toast
- Plain cooked pasta (no butter or sauce)
- Peeled and cooked white potatoes
- Hot cereal (like Cream of Wheat or Farina)
- Saltine Crackers
With plenty of fluids, rest, and binding foods, the discomfort of diarrhea should pass fairly quickly and without medication!