The best foods to eat after food poisoning are usually bland ones that do not irritate the stomach. Clear liquids and drinks that help to rehydrate a person will aid in the recovery process after food poisoning.
Food poisoning typically occurs when pathogens contaminate food or drinking water. Though uncomfortable, food poisoning is relatively common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 Americans will get some type of food poisoning this year.
Food poisoning is a very common case and, therefore, requires attention. It is caused because of the pathogens contaminating the food items. The side effects of food poisoning include diarrhea, vomiting and an unusual sensation in the stomach. After the food poisoning, stomach requires some rest. The person should be extra conscious about the meals and food items they are going to consume. Being cautious and consuming the right food item will result in fast recovery. If taken care all the time, then there are less chances of one suffering from food poisoning.
After experiencing the stomach flu or food poisoning, it might be hard to think about eating. However, the right foods, combined with drinking lots of fluids, can actually help speed up your body’s recovery. In most cases, the best way to recuperate from the stomach flu or food poisoning is to prevent dehydration and replace the fluids and electrolytes that your body has lost. It’s important to understand when you can and should start eating again and what to eat after food poisoning or the stomach flu. I’ll share what foods and liquids are best for your sensitive stomach, and what foods to avoid.
What To Eat After Food Poisoning
When a person reintroduces food after a bout of food poisoning, the goal is to eat foods that are easy to digest. This may mean following a diet for an upset stomach known as the BRAT diet.
BRAT stands for:
The BRAT diet is one of the main dietary recommendations for recovery from gastrointestinal illness.
People suggest this diet is ideal for helping a person recover because the four foods are bland in taste and high in starch. As a result, they help bind stools together and reduce the incidence of diarrhea.
Though research is lacking to confirm the effectiveness of the BRAT diet, there is some evidence that green bananasTrusted Source and riceTrusted Source benefit children with diarrhea.
The banana in the BRAT diet is also high in potassium, which may help replace lost electrolytes.
Other foods to try include:
- clear broths, especially bone broths
- low-sugar oatmeal
- plain potatoes
- saltine crackers
- baked chicken without skin
These foods are good to eat because of their blandness, starchiness, and nutritional content. The longer the illness lasts, the more protein a person needs to aid the healing process and prevent muscle breakdown in the absence of enough food and calories.
Once a person can keep down these mild foods, they should be able to return to their regular diet within 24 to 48 hours of being able to tolerate food intake.
Some people may also wish to eat some fermented foods to replace the beneficial gut bacteria lost during the illness. Fermented foods include:
- miso soup
Liquid intake is crucial for helping your body fight off food poisoning effects. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration, so sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of water is a good starting point.
Sports drinks that contain electrolytes are the best way to prevent dehydration during this time. Other suggested liquids include:
- non-caffeinated sodas, such as Sprite, 7UP, or ginger ale
- decaffeinated tea
- chicken or vegetable broth
Eat Bland Food
When you feel you might be able to hold down food, eat foods that are gentle on your stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Stick to bland, low fat, low fiber foods. Fat is harder for your stomach to digest, especially when it’s upset. Avoid fatty foods to prevent upsetting it further.
Foods that are gentle on the stomach include:
- egg whites
- peanut butter
- plain potatoes, including mashed potatoes
The BRAT diet is a good guide to follow when you have food poisoning.
Are There Other Foods I Can Eat After Stomach Flu or Food Poisoning?
If you can stomach the idea of eating and drinking again, and you’ve slowly started reintroducing bland foods, there are more recommendations beyond the BRAT diet. Here are some additional foods that may help get your appetite and strength back.
- Coconut water: As long as it doesn’t have added sugar, coconut water can be an appealing way to get you to drink more than you normally would. However, it isn’t any healthier than regular water.
- Pedialyte: This contains electrolytes, which your body loses through vomiting and diarrhea, and which your body needs to function properly. Pedialyte allows you to replenish electrolytes and helps you retain fluid to avoid dehydration.
- Yogurt: Since dairy products are less bland than any of the BRAT foods, they might be more tough on your stomach. However, if you can tolerate yogurt, it might be good for your stomach, especially if it contains probiotics, which help with digestion. Plus, yogurt contains fluid, which helps to stay hydrated.
- Soup/broth: Besides the obvious, that these water-based soups and broths are great for hydration, they can be a great base for adding in natural herbs, like ginger, fennel, mint, licorice root, etc., which contain natural anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe your stomach and aid with digestion.
- Teas: Decaffeinated teas with natural, homeopathic ingredients, like peppermint or spearmint, ginger, or chamomile, can soothe your stomach, reduce inflammation, curb nausea and hydrate you.
- Crackers/saltines: These crackers are bland and gentle on your stomach, and they also contain salt. Salt helps retain fluids, so it’s recommended when you’re ready to start eating again.
Take A Probiotic
If you end up taking antibiotics for whatever you have, not only do they (hopefully) kill the bug, but they also wipe out the good bacteria residing in your body. Dr. Rohr also recommends taking a probiotic supplement to get the healthy bacteria to repopulate your digestive tract, which will help get your stomach back to normal function.
Drinks To Try
When a person has food poisoning, they lose electrolytes via diarrhea and vomiting. These minerals help maintain the balance of fluids in the body.
As a result, the individual may need to drink oral rehydration solutions. ExamplesTrusted Source of these include:
These fluids are designed to rehydrate a person after they have been unable to keep foods or drinks down. Oral rehydration solutions are available to purchase online.
Other options include caffeine-free teas. Examples can include ginger or lemon tea. Peppermint teas may also help to soothe an upset stomach. However, a person should try to use oral rehydration solutions first.
It is important to avoid caffeinated drinks, as these can irritate the stomach and some may be more dehydrating than rehydrating.
Foods To Avoid To Eat After Food Poisoning
Avoid foods, drinks, and substances that are tough on the stomach, such as:
- caffeine, such as soda, energy drinks, or coffee
- spicy foods
- foods high in fiber
- dairy products
- fatty foods
- fried foods
- seasoned foods
- fruit juices
Also, remember to avoid any oral OTC diarrhea medications.
You may assume that the tears that come to your eyes and the burning sensation through your sinuses upon ingesting some strong curry or wasabi must be good thing — delicious foods are bad for you and painful foods are healthy, right? Not really: while spicy foods may help to clear your sinuses, there’s a time and place for everything, and this isn’t it. In the case of food poisoning, spicy foods can irritate your stomach, which is the last thing you want. Hold the Tabasco.
Fried Food And Heavy Sauces
Dr. Rohr tells us that “foods that are heavier are not as easily digested and may temporarily worsen symptoms.” Noooo! Not worsened symptoms! You have a free pass for the white bread, but not for the French fries. Take what you can get.
Even if you’re one of the lucky lactose-tolerant folks who enjoys the lattes and the ice cream, dairy is still not your stomach’s favorite substance to encounter coming down the esophagus. “Some bacteria and viruses distort, shorten, and damage the villi that line the intestine,” Dr. Rohr told us. (The villi are those little finger-like things that can look like something else if you’re thinking in the wrong direction.) “They help with digestion, so eat after food poisoning it may be more difficult to digest some food, and especially dairy.”
Fried foods such as fried chicken, french fries, and other high-fat items can all cause rapid emptying of the stomach and worsening diarrhea-related symptoms.
Foods That Cause Bloating
A person may also wish to avoid foods rich in fermentable carbohydrates. Nutritionists call these FODMAPs, and they can cause bloating in those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). While few researchers have studied reducing FODMAPs to help with food poisoning, doing so may reduce gas, bloating, or cramping.
Examples of foods rich in FODMAPs include:
Drinks To Avoid
any people may consider electrolyte-containing beverages a good alternative to oral rehydration solutions. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source caution against using electrolyte beverages, such as Gatorade or Powerade, because they are not designed to replace diarrhea-related losses.
These drinks can also contain high amounts of sugar, which can be stimulating to the bowels and could worsen symptoms.
If these drink types are all that a person has available, they should dilute them with water.
Other drinks to avoid include:
- dark sodas
- caffeinated tea
These drinks can affect a person’s hydration status and be more dehydrating than hydrating. In the case of milk, some people develop a temporary lactose intolerance after a gastrointestinal infection and may experience symptoms when drinking it.