Diet and Nutrition

Foods to Avoid If You Have Diarrhea

Foods to Avoid If You Have Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a condition characterized by loose or watery stools that occur three or more times a day. Typically, the condition lasts for about two to three days and then passes on its own. the symptoms of diarrhea include runny stools, bloating, stomach cramps, gas, and nausea. Diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration if adequate fluids are not supplemented and also pain in the rectal area due to repeatedly passing stools. Diarrhea is usually caused by a viral, bacterial, or amoebic infection of the intestine. Other causes might include irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, an allergic reaction, or intolerance to certain foods. Diarrhea on its own is not dangerous; however, if it continues beyond a few days, diarrhea can lead to other complications such as severe dehydration, bleeding in the stools, and drastic weight loss.

People eat nutritious foods and medicines to recover earlier. Similarly, one should also be aware of the foods he/she needs to avoid while having diarrhea. Nobody wants to make the situation worse by unconsciously eating foods resulting in an increase of muscle aches and abdominal pain.

Below is a list of foods that should be avoided when someone is suffering from diarrhea.

1. Fast Foods

Fast foods contain a large amount of fat, and that's why eating such foods regularly can lead to intestinal contraction and affect the digestive tract, causing diarrhea. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid the following foods in order to avoid the occurrence of diarrhea.

  • Greasy foods
  • Creamy foods
  • Mayonnaise
  • Foods containing gravy

2. Dairy Products

Consuming too much dairy is harmful to one’s stomach and intestines. One must not eat any type of product containing dairy when they are suffering from diarrhea. When diarrhea attacks a human body, it causes a decrease of lactase. Lactase is an enzyme which helps digest the lactose which is found in the milk sugar.

It’s true that milk sugar is needed when someone has diarrhea; however, if it is not digested properly, it will cause nausea, bloating, and an increase of intestinal contraction. Therefore, it is best to stay away from the following dairy products:

  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Ice-cream

There is an exception for yogurt. Though yogurt is a dairy product, research shows that it actually helps the body recover from diarrhea!

3. Alcoholic Beverages and Beverages Containing Caffeine or Carbonate

Beverages containing alcohol, carbonate, or even caffeine are prohibited when someone has diarrhea. Although they do not bear any pathogen that causes diarrhea, it is found that they can potentially be GI irritants. Thus, it would be best to avoid these beverages until you get back to your normal state.

Some people may suggest consuming flat soda, but this can also make the situation worse. Oral rehydration solution or fresh water seem to be the best drinks when you have diarrhea.

4. Sugar-Free Foods

Most diabetes patients take artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes while drinking tea or coffee. These sweeteners may have a laxative effect which causes gas formation in the gut, inflammation, bloating, etc. One should avoid the following artificial sweeteners or other sugar-free foods while having diarrhea:

  • Sugar-free chewing gum
  • Diet Soda
  • Sugar substitute tablet for mixing with coffee or tea
  • Sugar-free chocolates

5. Gas-Producing Foods

Foods that generate intestinal gas can cause an increase in diarrhea and deteriorate the situation. A patient suffering from diarrhea must not consume these gas-producing vegetables:

  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Pulses

Fruits containing natural sugar fructose and sugar alcohol sorbitol both ferment in the gut, leading to gas and bloating. Therefore, the following fruits should also be avoided:

  • Apricots
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Dry fruits like raisins and prunes

6. Unsafe Foods

One must stay away foods that are not safely washed, prepared, or cooked. The rule is applicable both for diarrhea patients and healthy people alike. Follow the steps shown below to stay hygienic.

  • Washing hands before eating any food.
  • Cleaning fruits or vegetables before cutting or cooking.
  • Cleaning the cooking utensils.
  • Cooking foods at an internal temperature of 160F.
  • Avoiding foods that are stored in the freezer or refrigerator for too long.

7. Mishandled Foods

Foods that are not handled properly are one of the biggest reasons behind diarrhea. mishandled foods or raw meats kept in the refrigerator for a long time are strictly prohibited when someone is suffering from diarrhea. 

8. Processed Foods

Processed foods contain a lot of artificial chemicals, salts, and coloring which can irritate the gut lining. This not only prevents you from recovering from diarrhea but could also make it worse.

The Bottom Line

Diarrhea is a very uncomfortable disease. One must be conscious enough not to let it prolong its durability. It is important to have a clear idea of the foods that can worse the whole situation and potentially prolong diarrhea. Staying away from the foods listed above will help decrease the frequency of bowel movements; thus, resulting in a faster recovery.

During a bout of diarrhea, the gastrointestinal tract is already weak and compromised. Consuming the wrong types of food at this time could prolong and worsen the symptoms, making life very difficult for the patient. Foods that are high in fats, salts, sugars, and even fiber should be avoided while suffering from diarrhea. While under normal circumstances vegetables and fruits are considered healthy for you, if you are suffering from diarrhea, there are certain vegetables and fruits that should be avoided because of their gas-causing properties. Other foods like dairy and grain that irritate the gut should also be given a miss during an attack of diarrhea. Maintain good hygiene by washing, cooking, and storing food well. Do not consume food that has been kept in the fridge for over twenty-four hours if you have diarrhea. Instead, opt for freshly cooked bland food. To ensure that you stay well hydrated, you can drink water, certain fruit juices, and sports drinks that contain electrolytes.

Do not hesitate to contact your doctor if your symptoms continue for more than three days or if you start to experience severe pain, bleeding, mucus in the stools, or fever.

Key Takeaways

  • Foods producing gas or causing nausea should be avoided when someone has diarrhea.
  • Laxative effects are also responsible for gas generation in the gut.
  • Alcoholic, caffeinated, or carbonated beverages can potentially be GI irritants.