What is the BRAT diet?
The BRAT diet is one type of bland diet that doctors sometimes recommended for people who are recovering from a gastrointestinal infection. BRAT is an acronym that stands for
The BRAT diet is based upon the fact that these foods are easy to digest and are well tolerated by most people. The BRAT diet is not a weight loss regimen and is not intended to be used over the long term. It is low in protein, fat, and fiber so it is not ideal from a nutritional standpoint for long term use. The low-fiber nature of the diet can help make loose stools firmer, and the bananas provide a needed source of potassium.
Who Should Follow the BRAT Diet?
The BRAT diet is appropriate for children and adults with an upset stomach, nausea or diarrhea. This diet is not designed to be a long-term solution, rather used for short periods of time during illness. It may help a person suffering from acute stomach upset transition from clear liquids back to a normal diet without further irritation of the intestines.
What is the BRAT diet used for?
The BRAT diet(Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) was once a staple of most pediatricians’ recommendations for children with an upset stomach. The idea was that it gave the gut a chance to rest and reduced the amount of stool produced. Experts now say the BRAT diet may not be the best option for children who are ill.
Because BRAT diet foods are low in fiber, protein, and fat, the diet lacks enough nutrition to help a child’s gastrointestinal tract recover. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that kids resume eating a normal, well-balanced diet appropriate for their age within 24 hours of getting sick. That diet should include a mix of fruits, vegetables, meat, yogurt, and complex carbohydrates.
Both children and adults who are ill need to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Water is good, but adding broth, a sports drink, or a rehydration solution can help replace lost electrolytes.
Call your health care provider if you or your child experiences:
- Diarrhea that lasts for more than three days
- A temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Reduced urine
- No tears or sunken cheeks
How Does the BRAT Diet Work?
The most common use for the BRAT diet is when a person is suffering from diarrhea. Because of the issues with bowel movements associated with diarrhea, the BRAT diet can help appease associated symptoms while replacing any nutrients lost due to diarrhea and even vomiting. The BRAT diet is meant to be used while the patient is still suffering gastrointestinal problems, and allows people to ease back into their regular diet once their stomach issues have subsided.
Are There Any Other Foods A Person Can Eat?
While the BRAT diet is recommended for those suffering from gastrointestinal problems, other types of bland food can also be substituted for relief. Some alternate foods include:
- Low sodium crackers
- Boiled potatoes
- Light vegetable soups
- Honey (as a spread for the toast)
- Pasta and light tomato sauce
- Light chicken broth
The key is to avoid foods that are difficult for your body to digest and breakdown. When dealing with a gastrointestinal problem, like diarrhea, stick with bland, simple foods that are easier to process. Foods high in complex sugars like fructose, sorbitol or raffinose should be avoided.
An alternative to the BRAT diet is the CRAM diet, which stands for:
- Apple sauce
The CRAM diet is said to have more beneficial nutrients than the BRAT diet because of the addition of milk.
Here is a list of foods you should avoid:
- Carbonated soft drinks
- Sugary drinks, including fruit juices
- Chewing gum, since it can cause gas and bloating
- Fatty, fried, greasy foods
- Raw vegetables, fruits and nuts
- Alcohol, which can irritate your digestive system
- Dairy products, mainly if you suffer from lactose intolerance