Diet for Diarrhea, Adult

Having frequent, runny stools (diarrhea) has many causes. Diarrhea may be caused or worsened by food or drink. Diarrhea may be relieved by changing your diet.

IF YOU ARE NOT TOLERATING SOLID FOODS:

  • Drink enough water and fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow.

  • Avoid sugary drinks and sodas as well as milk-based beverages.

  • Avoid beverages containing caffeine and alcohol.

  • You may try rehydrating beverages. You can make your own by following this recipe:

  • ½ tsp table salt.

  • ¾ tsp baking soda.

  • ⅓ tsp salt substitute (potassium chloride).

  • 1 tbs + 1 tsp sugar.

  • 1 qt water.

As your stools become more solid, you can start eating solid foods. Add foods one at a time. If a certain food causes your diarrhea to get worse, avoid that food and try other foods. A low fiber, low-fat, and lactose-free diet is recommended. Small, frequent meals may be better tolerated.

Starches

  • Allowed: 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, or 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

  • Allowed: 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

  • Allowed: All fruit juices except prune juice. 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: Apple with skin, apricots, mango, pears, raspberries, strawberries. Prune juice, stewed or dried prunes. Dried fruits, raisins, dates. Large servings of all fresh fruits.

Meat and Meat Substitutes

  • Allowed: Ground or well-cooked tender beef, ham, veal, lamb, pork, or poultry. Eggs, plain cheese. 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.

Milk

  • Allowed: Yogurt, lactose-free milk, kefir, drinkable yogurt, buttermilk, soy milk.

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

Soups

  • Allowed: 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

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

  • Avoid: Plain cakes and cookies, pie made with allowed 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

  • Allowed: Avoid any fats and oils.

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

Beverages

  • Allowed: Water, decaffeinated teas, oral rehydration solutions, sugar-free beverages.

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

Condiments

  • Allowed: Ketchup, mustard, horseradish, vinegar, cream sauce, cheese sauce, 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.

Weight Monitoring: Weigh yourself every day. You should weigh yourself in the morning after you urinate and before you eat breakfast. Wear the same amount of clothing when you weigh yourself. Record your weight daily. Bring your recorded weights to your clinic visits. Tell your caregiver right away if you have gained 3 lb/1.4 kg or more in 1 day, 5 lb/2.3 kg in a week, or whatever amount you were told to report.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You are unable to keep fluids down.

  • You start to throw up (vomit) or diarrhea keeps coming back (persistent).

  • Abdominal pain develops, increases, or can be felt in one place (localizes).

  • You have an oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C), not controlled by medicine.

  • Diarrhea contains blood or mucus.

  • You develop excessive weakness, dizziness, fainting, or extreme thirst.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.