Diet for Diarrhea, Adult

ExitCare ImageFrequent, runny stools (diarrhea) may be caused or worsened by food or drink. Diarrhea may be relieved by changing your diet. Since diarrhea can last up to 7 days, it is easy for you to lose too much fluid from the body and become dehydrated. Fluids that are lost need to be replaced. Along with a modified diet, make sure you drink enough fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow.

DIET INSTRUCTIONS

  • Ensure adequate fluid intake (hydration): have 1 cup (8 oz) of fluid for each diarrhea episode. Avoid fluids that contain simple sugars or sports drinks, fruit juices, whole milk products, and sodas. Your urine should be clear or pale yellow if you are drinking enough fluids. Hydrate with an oral rehydration solution that you can purchase at pharmacies, retail stores, and online. You can prepare an oral rehydration solution at home by mixing the following ingredients together:

  • ⅓–⅔ tsp table salt.

  • ¾ tsp baking soda.

  • ⅓ tsp salt substitute containing potassium chloride.

  • 1 ⅓ tablespoons sugar.

  • 1 L (34 oz) of water.

  • Certain foods and beverages may increase the speed at which food moves through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. These foods and beverages should be avoided and include:

  • Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.

  • High-fiber foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grain breads and cereals.

  • Foods and beverages sweetened with sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol.

  • Some foods may be well tolerated and may help thicken stool including:

  • Starchy foods, such as rice, toast, pasta, low-sugar cereal, oatmeal, grits, baked potatoes, crackers, and bagels.  

  • Bananas.  

  • Applesauce.

  • Add probiotic-rich foods to help increase healthy bacteria in the GI tract, such as yogurt and fermented milk products.

RECOMMENDED FOODS AND BEVERAGES

Starches

Choose foods with less than 2 g of fiber per serving.

  • Recommended: White, French, and pita breads, plain rolls, buns, bagels. Plain muffins, matzo. Soda, saltine, or graham crackers. Pretzels, melba toast, zwieback. Cooked cereals made with water: cornmeal, farina, cream cereals. Dry cereals: refined corn, wheat, rice. Potatoes prepared any way without skins, refined macaroni, spaghetti, noodles, refined rice.

  • Avoid: Bread, rolls, or crackers made with whole wheat, multi-grains, rye, bran seeds, nuts, or coconut. Corn tortillas or taco shells. Cereals containing whole grains, multi-grains, bran, coconut, nuts, raisins. Cooked or dry oatmeal. Coarse wheat cereals, granola. Cereals advertised as "high-fiber." Potato skins. Whole grain pasta, wild or brown rice. Popcorn. Sweet potatoes, yams. Sweet rolls, doughnuts, waffles, pancakes, sweet breads.

Vegetables

  • Recommended: Strained tomato and vegetable juices. Most well-cooked and canned vegetables without seeds. Fresh: Tender lettuce, cucumber without the skin, cabbage, spinach, bean sprouts.

  • Avoid: Fresh, cooked, or canned: Artichokes, baked beans, beet greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, corn, kale, legumes, peas, sweet potatoes. Cooked: Green or red cabbage, spinach. Avoid large servings of any vegetables because vegetables shrink when cooked, and they contain more fiber per serving than fresh vegetables.

Fruit

  • Recommended: Cooked or canned: Apricots, applesauce, cantaloupe, cherries, fruit cocktail, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, mandarin oranges, peaches, pears, plums, watermelon. Fresh: Apples without skin, ripe banana, grapes, cantaloupe, cherries, grapefruit, peaches, oranges, plums. Keep servings limited to ½ cup or 1 piece.

  • Avoid: Fresh: Apples with skin, apricots, mangoes, pears, raspberries, strawberries. Prune juice, stewed or dried prunes. Dried fruits, raisins, dates. Large servings of all fresh fruits.

Protein

  • Recommended: Ground or well-cooked tender beef, ham, veal, lamb, pork, or poultry. Eggs. Fish, oysters, shrimp, lobster, other seafoods. Liver, organ meats.

  • Avoid: Tough, fibrous meats with gristle. Peanut butter, smooth or chunky. Cheese, nuts, seeds, legumes, dried peas, beans, lentils.

Dairy

  • Recommended: Yogurt, lactose-free milk, kefir, drinkable yogurt, buttermilk, soy milk, or plain hard cheese.

  • Avoid: Milk, chocolate milk, beverages made with milk, such as milkshakes.

Soups

  • Recommended: Bouillon, broth, or soups made from allowed foods. Any strained soup.

  • Avoid: Soups made from vegetables that are not allowed, cream or milk-based soups.

Desserts and Sweets

  • Recommended: Sugar-free gelatin, sugar-free frozen ice pops made without sugar alcohol.

  • Avoid: Plain cakes and cookies, pie made with fruit, pudding, custard, cream pie. Gelatin, fruit, ice, sherbet, frozen ice pops. Ice cream, ice milk without nuts. Plain hard candy, honey, jelly, molasses, syrup, sugar, chocolate syrup, gumdrops, marshmallows.

Fats and Oils

  • Recommended: Limit fats to less than 8 tsp per day.

  • Avoid: Seeds, nuts, olives, avocados. Margarine, butter, cream, mayonnaise, salad oils, plain salad dressings. Plain gravy, crisp bacon without rind.

Beverages

  • Recommended: Water, decaffeinated teas, oral rehydration solutions, sugar-free beverages not sweetened with sugar alcohols.

  • Avoid: Fruit juices, caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, soda), alcohol, sports drinks, or lemon-lime soda.

Condiments

  • Recommended: Ketchup, mustard, horseradish, vinegar, cocoa powder. Spices in moderation: allspice, basil, bay leaves, celery powder or leaves, cinnamon, cumin powder, curry powder, ginger, mace, marjoram, onion or garlic powder, oregano, paprika, parsley flakes, ground pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme, turmeric.

  • Avoid: Coconut, honey.