Gastroenteritis is usually caused by a virus and resolves in 2-5 days. During this time the stomach and intestine may not be able to process food successfully resulting in diarrhea with or without nausea and vomiting. Hence, one must “rest” the intestines by giving them what they can tolerate best - liquids (which will treat dehydration), starches and sugars. As symptoms of the illness subside, gradually advance the diet toward a normal diet as tolerated.
Dietary Treatment for Vomiting
Use the items on the list that “sound” best to you. In the first 12 hours, give clear liquids only. Frequent small amounts as tolerated are best.
- Clear liquids include:
- weak tea
- bouillon, broth
- water, especially ice water
- caffeine-free carbonated beverages (7 Up, etc)
- In the next 12 hours, add frequent small amounts of:
- soup (not creamed)
- soda crackers
- toast & jelly
- potato (no butter)
- dry sweetened cereal (no milk)
- After 48 hours, if symptoms are subsiding, add:
- broiled chicken
- lean beef
- tapioca pudding
- apple (no skin)
- cottage cheese
- yogurt, buttermilk
- Gradually add more foods during the next 2-3 days. Do not rush back to full, regular diet. Finally, add nonfat milk, then regular milk. If vomiting or diarrhea recurs, go back a stage and advance more slowly.
Dietary Treatment for Diarrhea
- Include all foods in Lists 1 and 2 above.
- After stools begin to form, add foods in List 3 above, then gradually add more foods from regular diet if they are tolerated.