A gastroenteritis diet includes the kinds of foods you should eat or give to a child who has gastroenteritis . The symptoms of gastroenteritis usually last 1-2 days. However, they can last up to 10 days. Symptoms include:
This diet can help you feel more comfortable and prevent dehydration . In the past, gastroenteritis diets have included withholding food for 24 hours and the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast). However, some organizations do not recommend withholding food or the BRAT diet.
If you or your child has gastroenteritis, choose a diet that is nutritious and prevents dehydration. For most people of all ages, that diet is your normal food intake, perhaps modified slightly by limiting sugars and fatty or spicy foods.
The following information will help you make good dietary choices for yourself or your child with gastroenteritis.
The goal of a gastroenteritis diet is to prevent dehydration. It is also important to maintain a proper balance of electrolytes. Electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, are minerals your body needs to work properly. Vomiting and diarrhea can take too many electrolytes out of your body. Choose foods that will help you to rehydrate, regulate the balance of electrolytes in your body, and maintain nutrition.
|Recommended Foods||Foods to Avoid (Adults)||Foods to Avoid (Infants and Children)|
For young infants—Breast milk or normal infant formula
For older children or adults—Normal food is usually best. This could include:
You should also avoid alcohol and smoking .
Gastroenteritis is a common cause of diarrhea in infants. Follow these steps to prevent and treat dehydration in your infant:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends giving an Oral rehydration solutions (ORS) at the start of diarrhea. It is important to continue regular feedings of breast milk or formula along with this therapy. After dehydration has been corrected, the doctor may have you return to normal breast or formula feedings. Dehydration can be serious. Get medical care right away if your child is not tolerating the feedings or the rehydration solution.
As much as possible during and after an episode of gastroenteritis, your child should eat normally to maintain nutrition. After symptoms improve, your child may need extra calories to make up for losses during the illness. If your child has gastroenteritis, follow these steps:
For infants and children:
For adults with gastroenteritis, these steps can help you feel better and prevent dehydration:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
Colletti JE, Brown KM, Sharieff GQ, Barata IA, Ishimine P, ACEP Pediatric Emergency Medicine Committee. The management of children with gastroenteritis and dehydration in the emergency department. J Emerg Med. 2010;38(5):686-698.
Gastroenteritis. Cincinnati Children’s website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/g/gastroenteritis/. Updated July 2012. Accessed February 21, 2014.
Gastroenteritis. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Gastroenteritis. Updated April 4, 2012. Accessed February 21, 2014.
Koslap-Petraco MB. Homecare issues in rotavirus gastroenteritis. J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2006;18(9):422-428.
Managing acute gastroenteritis among children: oral rehydration, maintenance, and nutritional therapy. MMWR. 2003;52. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/rr/rr5216.pdf. Accessed February 21, 2014.
Rotavirus gastroenteritis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated December 30, 2013. Accessed February 21, 2014.
The treatment of diarrhea: a manual for physicians and other senior health workers. World Health Organization website. Available at: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/43209/1/9241593180.pdf. Accessed February 21, 2014.
Last reviewed April 2016 by Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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