What Should You Eat When You Have Diarrhea?

A bout of diarrhea can leave you feeling uncomfortable and significantly disrupt your daily life.

That’s why taking steps to ensure a quick recovery is essential — and this process often starts with knowing what you should eat post-diarrhea.

Choosing the right foods helps replenish lost nutrients and supports a healing digestive system, allowing you to return to your daily activities. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the best foods to eat after diarrhea, which foods to avoid, and how to take care of your digestive health during recovery.  

What is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a common digestive condition characterized by loose, watery stools that occur more frequently than your regular bowel movements. 

It’s often a symptom of factors like a bacterial infection, dietary changes, medications, or underlying health conditions, and should be addressed promptly.

Why is it Important to Eat After Diarrhea?

After having diarrhea, your body might be depleted of essential nutrients and fluids, and eating the right foods can help you replenish them.

Diarrhea often causes dehydration, so consuming hydrating foods can help you replenish lost fluids.

Eating after having diarrhea is also important for rebuilding your stomach microbiome to support your gut health and strengthen your digestive system.

Tips for ensuring you can eat after diarrhea

You might not have much of an appetite after experiencing an upset stomach. Here are a few tips to help you eat after diarrhea:

  • Start slowly: Begin with small, frequent meals. Large meals can overwhelm a sensitive digestive system.

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids like water, herbal teas, and broth. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can cause further dehydration.

  • Eat soluble fiber: Foods with soluble fiber — like oatmeal and ripe bananas — can help firm up stools and normalize bowel movements.

  • Avoid foods that could aggravate the stomach: Steer clear of spicy, fatty, or dairy-heavy foods that may irritate the stomach lining until your digestive system has fully recovered.

Listen to your body when you’re recovering from diarrhea. If certain foods cause discomfort or worsen symptoms, eliminate them from your diet temporarily.

Which Foods are Best to Eat When You Have Diarrhea?

The BRAT diet

The BRAT diet encourages you to eat bland food that is easy-to-digest to help ease the symptoms of an upset stomach.

These foods primarily include bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, but you can also consume:

  • Plain crackers

  • Weak, plain tea

  • Apple juice

  • Broths 

BRAT-diet foods are also low in fiber, which means they won’t promote more regular bowel movements and may even help to firm up the stool.

However, you should not follow this diet for a long period of time, as this can increase your risk of becoming constipated and developing nutrient deficiencies.

Bland foods

Bland foods are easy on the stomach and they can also help you add a little variety to your diet after having diarrhea. Some bland foods to try include:

  • Baked chicken with the skin removed

  • Oatmeal 

  • Dry cereal 

  • Boiled or baked potatoes with the skin removed

  • Cooked carrots 

Although they are bland, these foods are packed with essential compounds — like fiber and protein — which can improve your nutrient intake and help you recover faster. 

Salty foods

Foods containing a moderate amount of salt can help replenish sodium levels, which is an essential nutrient that is often lost during bouts of diarrhea. 

Broths and soups are excellent choices that supply essential minerals and enhance hydration.

You can also eat lightly salted crackers as a quick snack that’s easy on the stomach.

Electrolyte drinks

If you have persistent diarrhea, it can lead to a significant loss of fluid and electrolytes that can leave you dehydrated.

Replenishing these fluids is essential for helping you recover quickly while avoiding additional complications.

Electrolyte drinks not only help maintain hydration after diarrhea but also facilitate the absorption of essential nutrients like sodium and sugar.

Popular electrolyte drink options include:

  • Oral rehydration solutions (ORS): These are specially formulated to provide the right balance of sugar and salts to aid hydration.

  • Coconut water: This is a natural source of electrolytes like potassium and sodium that is more gentle than commercial sports drinks.

  • Diluted fruit juices: Apple or pear juice diluted with water can provide some sugars and electrolytes in a milder form that’s easier on the stomach.


Diarrhea can cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome and may even kill beneficial bacteria. If left untreated, this can cause various health concerns and digestive issues.

A probiotic supplement can help you rebalance the gut microbiome, which aids recovery.

You can also consume other foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, or small quantities of fermented vegetables. 

Foods to Avoid When You Have Diarrhea

Milk and dairy products

Lactose — the sugar found in milk and most dairy products — can be difficult to digest during or after diarrhea and may temporarily worsen diarrhea symptoms.

This is because the body produces less lactase – the enzyme that breaks down lactose – during bouts of diarrhea. 

Products like milk, cream, and cheese can also cause additional uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating and gas. 

Fatty and fried foods

Fried or high-fat foods can be difficult to digest when your immune system is compromised during diarrhea. 

This can lead to greasy stools and more frequent bowel movements.

Foods such as fatty cuts of meat, buttery dishes, deep-fried snacks, and takeout should be avoided until you’ve fully recovered.

Certain types of meat and fish

Processed meats — like sausages, bacon, or salami — are high in unhealthy fats and sodium, which can irritate the digestive system

Similarly, very oily or heavily seasoned fish can also disrupt your digestion, often leading to more severe bouts of diarrhea. 

Although you should consume sodium to replenish electrolytes, reach for lightly salted foods instead of processed options.

Spicy foods 

Spicy foods contain compounds and acids — like capsaicin — that can irritate the gut lining, leading to increased discomfort and bowel movements. 

Try to avoid spicy dishes, hot sauces, and seasonings until you’ve made a full recovery.


Although fruits are packed with essential nutrients, they also contain large amounts of sugar that could have a laxative effect on an upset stomach.

Fruits are also high in fiber, which may be too harsh on a sensitive digestive system.

Common fruits that should be avoided during or after diarrhea include:

  • Prunes 

  • Peaches

  • Cherries

  • Plums

  • Berries

  • Oranges

  • Apples

  • Pears 

Caffeinated or carbonated drinks

Caffeine can stimulate the intestines, which may lead to more frequent bowel movements and diarrhea. 

On the other hand, carbonated beverages may worsen uncomfortable symptoms by causing bloating and gas. 

These drinks also have diuretic effects, meaning that they cause your body to pass more urine over a shorter period. This can put you at an increased risk of becoming dehydrated.

When Should You See a Doctor About Diarrhea?

While most cases of diarrhea are mild and treatable at home, there are a few situations where it might be necessary to see your doctor. These may include:

  • Diarrhea that persists for more than two days in adults or 24 hours in young children and infants

  • Symptoms of dehydration, such as dry mouth, dark-colored urine, weakness, dizziness, and feeling lightheaded

  • Severe abdominal or rectal pain and cramping that doesn’t improve with home remedies or OTC medication

  • Significant bloating that doesn’t resolve with treatment 

  • Fever

  • Blood, pus, or mucus in stool

  • Nausea and vomiting 

  • Unintended weight loss 

  • Signs of malnutrition

These symptoms may be an indication of an underlying health condition — like digestive and kidney diseases — or severe diarrhea that requires immediate medical attention.

You should also see your doctor if you’ve recently traveled to regions where waterborne diseases are common, such as Mexico, Africa, and Thailand. 

Where Can I Learn More About Feeling Better After Diarrhea?

At LifeMD, we know that any form of upset stomach is unpleasant and can be uncomfortable to deal with.

A team of healthcare professionals can provide nutritional advice and prescribe medications for issues like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea to help you feel better in no time.

Make an appointment to get started.

LifeMD makes it easy to stay on top of your health because talking to a doctor, filling your prescriptions, getting your labs done—and more—are all easy and cost-effective. Come discover a healthcare solution built around you and your life.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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