When can I start eating regular food after the stomach virus?

Stomach viruses can wreak havoc on digestive system. It is important to know when you can start introducing regular diet.

When can I start eating regular food after the stomach virus?
Viktor Simunović, Dr.med.
Dr.med. Viktor Simunović
19 March 2024.

Many patients ask, "When can I start eating regular food after a stomach virus?" The answer depends on various factors, including the severity of the illness, individual health status, and the type of stomach virus.

However, you should be able to start eating a more regular diet 24 – 48 hours after the diarrhea or vomiting ends.

What should you eat when you recover from a stomach virus?

  1. Bananas: Bananas are easy to digest and high in potassium, a mineral that helps manage dehydration, a common symptom of stomach viruses.
  2. Rice: Plain white rice is bland and low in fiber, making it gentle on your stomach.
  3. Applesauce: Applesauce is a source of fruit that is easy to digest. It also contains pectin, which can help firm up loose stools.
  4. Toast: Plain toast, particularly from white bread, is another bland food that can help ease digestion.
  5. Crackers: Plain crackers can help absorb acid and settle a troubled stomach. They also provide some quick energy.
  6. Chicken or vegetable broth: Broths are an excellent way to stay hydrated and can soothe the stomach. They also provide necessary salts and minerals.
  7. Potatoes: Boiled or mashed potatoes are high in carbohydrates for energy while being mild enough for a sensitive stomach.
  8. Yogurt: Plain yogurt with probiotics can aid digestion and restore your gut flora's balance.
  9. Oatmeal: Oatmeal is bland, easy to digest, and high in fiber, which can help firm up loose stools.
  10. Eggs: Eggs, particularly scrambled or boiled, are a soft, easy-to-digest source of protein.

What is the BRAT diet?

Recognized in the medical community as a helpful dietary strategy for patients recovering from stomach viruses, the BRAT diet consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These bland foods are easy to digest, reducing the workload on the digestive system while providing essential nutrients. The BRAT diet often includes crackers, another food that is gentle on the stomach.

Amidst the discomfort of a stomach virus, the BRAT diet offers a soothing alternative to regular food and drinks that may further upset the stomach. Patients are advised to introduce these foods as their symptoms subside slowly. Pairing the BRAT diet with suitable hydration options is also suggested to prevent dehydration, a common complication associated with stomach viruses.

Food to avoid after stomach virus

While recovering from a stomach virus, certain types of food should ideally be avoided to prevent exacerbating symptoms or prolonging the recovery process.

High-fat, spicy, and acidic foods can irritate the digestive tract, potentially triggering gastroenteritis, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is also advisable to stay away from caffeine and alcohol, as these can lead to dehydration, further intensifying abdominal pain.

Take it slow

Reintroducing regular food after a stomach virus should be done cautiously and gradually. The BRAT diet is often recommended initially. This careful approach aids recovery and prevents further irritation to the digestive system, enabling a smooth shift back to standard dietary patterns.

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