Hopefully you won’t have to use the advice I give in this article because it is about coping with something that we wish didn’t exist. The dreaded stomach bug which leads to symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and bloating. These unpleasant symptoms normally take a few days to a week to recover from. Healthcare professionals recommended taking paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains and getting plenty of rest. In addition to this, this article will give you advice on what to eat and avoid eating when surviving a stomach bug and the symptoms described from day one till up to a week. Each stage is dependent on how well you feel. For example, someone may be ready to eat in the first 24 hours if their symptoms are mild.
First 24 hours
The aim is to prevent dehydration. It is necessary to drink more than usual to replace the fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhoea. Oral rehydration is important and it is important to drink fluids. This includes special rehydration drinks that have been proven to be effective.
What to have
- Rice water- (water left over after boiling brown rice) is high in electrolytes. Strain it, cool it and sip it.
- Ice chips/cubes
- Teas- can help calm the digestive tract and alleviate indigestion, gas and cramping. Rooibos (red tea), peppermint tea, fennel and chamomile are good examples.
- Special rehydration drinks e.g. dioralyte™
- Coconut water
- Maple water
- Bone broth- contains minerals (including calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium that will help to replace electrolytes lost.
The aim is to slowly get back to eating again without making symptoms worse. Therefore, it is advised to start with consuming bland foods that are easy to digest. This is where the BRAT diet which stands for Banana, Rice, Applesauce and Toast comes in.
What to have
- Foods included in the BRAT diet including banana chips
- Low sodium crackers
- Boiled potatoes inc. sweet potato
- Light vegetable soups/stew
- Honey (as a spread for the toast)
- Pasta and light tomato sauce
- Light chicken broth
- Apple Cider Vinegar- is said to help with gas and cramps. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of honey in 1 cup of warm water.
If you feel up to it, you can add cereal and milk such as almond and rice milk to your diet which is a little harder to digest.
The aim is to increase foods that reduce diarrhoea & dehydration but are harder to digest.
What to have
- Salty snacks
- Probiotics inc. Kefir
At Day 3, hopefully you will be feeling a lot better. You can look to extend your diet even further but I would recommend avoiding foods linked to bloating & diarrhoea. The advice below is based on the FODMAPS (Fermentable oligo-saccharides, disaccharides, mono-saccharides, polyols) diet.
What to have
- Fruits-All fruits except nectarine, watermelon, cherries, apples, mangoes, pears, persimmon & white peaches.
- Vegetables -All except those described.
- Legumes-1/4 cup canned chickpeas and 1/2 cup canned lentils or 1/4 cup boiled lentils.
- Grain & starches-Amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, maize, millet, oats, potato, quinoa, rice, sorghum, tapioca.
- Lactose-Hard and ripened cheeses, butter, a little cream (these are virtually lactose free.)
- Sweeteners-Golden syrup, maple syrup, rice syrup, table sugar, cane sugar, icing sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, glucose.
- Additives-Aspartame, saccharine, stevia.
Foods to avoid from day 1 to day 7
These foods are linked to diarrhea, gas, bloating and vomiting.
- 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
- Vegetables-Artichokes, asparagus, garlic, leeks, onions, spring onions, savoy cabbage, sugar snap peas, avocados, cauliflower, mushrooms & snow peas.
- Legumes-All other legume beans.
- Grain & starches-Wheat, rye and barley.
- Nuts-Pistachios and cashews.
- Lactose-Animal milk, yoghurt, ice cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese.
- Sweeteners-, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice concentrate
- Additives-Sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol (as in diet gums, lollies, dairy desserts etc.