Is it safe to follow an individualized version of the brat diet?
The theory behind the BRAT diet is that people can reduce the symptoms of stomach disease by eating only mild, easily digestible foods. These symptoms typically include nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. What should you eat after a stomach virus, vomiting, or diarrhea? The BRAT diet can help you refuel and recover after a stomach condition such as norovirus. The foods on the BRAT diet are low in protein, fat, and fiber, making them easy for most people to digest.
If you or your child has ever had a stomach virus, you may have heard of and followed the BRAT diet. The BRAT diet contains a small amount of nutrients, such as vitamin C in applesauce and fiber and vitamin B-6 in bananas. The next day, start eating foods from the BRAT diet and other bland foods, such as crackers, oatmeal, semolina, or porridge. Some people believe that sticking to the BRAT diet can provide multiple benefits for people with an upset stomach and diarrhea.
The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) recommends treating diarrhea by eating mild foods that may be on the BRAT diet. The BRAT diet has also been recommended for people who have experienced nausea or vomiting and who start eating solid foods again. The BRAT diet has been around for about a century, and it was originally developed for pediatricians to give children to minimize the diarrhea they have when they have acute bowel conditions, says David Cutler, MD, a primary care physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. People sometimes use the BRAT diet to treat diarrhea, stomach flu, and other types of stomach conditions.
Although the diet may reduce symptoms in some people, doctors do not recommend following this diet. Because of its risks and restrictive nature, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend the use of the BRAT diet for children with diarrhea. The BRAT diet is particularly harmful to individuals who are growing and need adequate energy, including children and pregnant women. Overall, the BRAT diet should not be used for more than a few days, neither for children nor for adults.
Instead of sticking strictly to the BRAT diet after severe diarrhea, focus on rehydration, says Freuman, who recommends balanced rehydration solutions instead of Gatorade or regular water.