Foods to eat when getting over a stomach flu
How to nurse your stomach back to health
We’ve all been there before: nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, cramps… a stomach flu can be some very nasty business. The best way to avoid a stomach flu is prevention: washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, avoiding uncooked and unwashed foods, etc. However, once it hits it can hit hard, and the road to recovery can often be prolonged and bothersome, with a sensitive stomach long after the infection has passed. In this article, we will give you advice on what foods and drinks to eat and what to avoid during and after a bout of stomach flu.
During the infection
When symptoms of a stomach flu start to hit, it is important to recognize them and modify your diet accordingly. Most strategies at this point in time are aimed at minimizing vomiting and avoiding dehydration.
What to eat
During initial stages of the stomach flu, solid foods often induce vomiting, necessitating a liquid diet. Drink abundant liquids throughout the day, taking small sips on a regular basis. Drink electrolyte replacement drinks such as Gatorade or Pedialyte, non-fatty broths, natural vegetable and fruit juices (such as apple, grape, carrot, and cucumber), and herbal teas.
What to avoid
Avoid all solid food in general at first, especially if ingestion of solid food induces vomiting. Avoid caffeinated drinks, drinks with high sugar content, and citrus fruit juices. Avoid drinking too much plain water, as this can dilute the already low electrolyte levels in your body. Instead, drink small amounts of water periodically throughout the day.
After the infection has passed
At this point, vomiting and diarrhea have mostly ceased, but your stomach still remains quite sensitive and needs to be coddled back to full health. This involves a slow and progressive return to normal dietary habits.
What to eat
Start off with bland, easy to digest foods such as soda crackers, rice, and toast. Once these are easily assimilated by the body, try incorporating vegetables (carrots, peas) and fruits (bananas, melon), lean meats such as chicken breast, and more carbohydrates such as plain spaghetti. Gelatin and soft cereals are also good ways to build your calorie intake. Although dairy products should be avoided for the most part, consuming yogurt once the stomach has recovered somewhat helps repopulate the gut with helpful bacteria that may have been killed off during the infection. Try a couple bites at first, and continue consuming yogurt if no ill effects are detected.
What not to eat
Continue avoiding any foods that might irritate your already delicate stomach. These include caffeine, citrus, spicy foods, dairy products, fatty meats, and highly seasoned foods. Also avoid eating vegetables such as broccoli, beans, and cabbage, as these produce gas when digested.
Considerations for infants
As in adults, the main concern when a child has a stomach flu is maintaining proper hydration. If breast-feeding, continue to breast-feed, allowing 15-20 minutes of rest after a bout of vomiting or diarrhea. Older children should drink Pedialyte to replace lost electrolytes, and should avoid sugary drinks and dairy products.
Consult our page on symptoms to see if you have a stomach flu.