Diarrhea is defined as having two or more watery stools per day. This can lead to weakness, poor appetite, dehydration, and weight loss.
With diarrhea, you will need to increase fluid intake to rehydrate yourself from lost fluids. Make sure that you are avoiding caffeine and carbonated drinks. With persistent diarrhea, you may need to choose sports drinks that contain electrolytes.
Eating small, frequent meals can be easier on your stomach and reduce the risk of diarrhea. Your body is better able to handle and digest smaller meals than larger ones.
Here’s a sample of a frequent, small meal plan:
- Breakfast 7am: oatmeal with berries
- Snack 10am: whole wheat crackers and ½ banana
- Lunch 1pm: chicken and vegetable soup
- Snack 4pm: hummus and carrots or applesauce and pretzels
- Dinner 7pm: small sweet potato, brown rice, and a salad
Snack on salty, bland foods like pretzels and crackers. These contain sodium, which can help replenish lost sodium from diarrhea, and usually won’t upset your stomach.
Broths and soups are other great options because they contain nutrients and sodium. Applesauce and bananas are also good options because they are bland and contain fiber that can help bulk stools.
If bananas and applesauce aren’t enough fiber, try adding a scoop of psyllium fiber to a drink. Metamucil and Konsyl are tasteless and clear over-the-counter products.
THINGS TO AVOID
The last thing you want to do is upset your stomach!
- Stay away from greasy, fried, spicy, and sweet foods. Bland foods are preferable until the diarrhea is under control.
- Milk is often difficult to handle during times of an upset stomach and diarrhea, so choose lactose-free milks or avoid dairy all together.
- Avoid carbonated beverages and cruciferous vegetables, both of which are gas-forming foods.
- Also avoid sugar-free gums that contain sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, and erithritol. Our bodies don’t digest these sugar alcohols and they can increase the risk of an upset stomach and diarrhea.
A note on medication management of diarrhea
If your nutrition strategy isn’t helping, it’s important that you work with your medical team for medication management. Some people need to take anti-diarrhea medication to get things under control.
It’s possible that using medicine on a regular schedule would be a good bowel management strategy. Your medical team can assist you in determining the dose and frequency of your medication.
- Eat 6-8 small meals each day instead of a few large meals
- Sip on clear liquids throughout the day and drink at least 8oz after each loose stool
- Room temperature liquids may be better tolerated
- Eat foods that are naturally high in pectin, like bananas and applesauce
- Avoid greasy, fried foods, foods high in sugar, spicy foods, and foods that can cause gas
- With constant diarrhea, choose sports drinks to get electrolytes back into your system
- Avoid caffeine and fizzy drinks
- Try salty, bland foods like pretzels, crackers, broths, and soups
- Talk to your doctor about anti-diarrhea medications