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Nutrition Tips for Relief of Diarrhea


There are diet changes you can make to help relieve or stop diarrhea. These changes include limiting or avoiding foods and liquids that are high in sugar, fat, fiber, and lactose. Lactose is a sugar found in milk products. Milk products can cause diarrhea in people who are lactose intolerant. You should also drink extra liquids to replace fluids that are lost when you have diarrhea. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration.


Foods to limit or avoid:

  • Dairy:
    • Whole milk
    • Half-and-half, cream, and sour cream
    • Regular (whole milk) ice cream
  • Grains:
    • Whole wheat and whole grain breads, pasta, cereals, and crackers
    • Brown and wild rice
    • Breads and cereals with seeds or nuts
    • Popcorn
  • Fruit and vegetables:
    • All raw fruits, except bananas and melon
    • Dried fruits, including prunes and raisins
    • Canned fruit in heavy syrup
    • Prune juice and any fruit juice with pulp
    • Raw vegetables, except lettuce
    • Fried vegetables
    • Corn, raw and cooked broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and collard greens
  • Protein:
    • Fried meat, poultry, and fish
    • High-fat luncheon meats, such as bologna
    • Fatty meats, such as sausage, bacon, and hot dogs
    • Beans and nuts
  • Liquids:
    • Sodas and fruit-flavored drinks
    • Drinks that contain caffeine, such as energy drinks, coffee, and tea
    • Drinks that contain alcohol or sugar alcohol, such as sorbitol

Foods and liquids you may eat or drink:

Most people can tolerate the foods and liquids listed below. If any of them make your symptoms worse, stop eating or drinking them until you feel better. If you are lactose intolerant, avoid milk products.

  • Dairy:
    • Skim or low-fat milk or evaporated milk
    • Soy milk or buttermilk
    • Low-fat, part-skim, and aged cheese
    • Yogurt, low-fat ice cream, or sherbert
  • Grains: (Choose foods with less than 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving.)
    • White or refined flour breads, bagels, pasta, and crackers
    • Cold or hot cereals made from white or refined flour such as puffed rice, cornflakes, or cream of wheat
    • White rice
  • Fruit and vegetables:
    • Bananas or melon
    • Fruit juice without pulp, except prune juice
    • Canned fruit in juice or light syrup
    • Lettuce and most well-cooked vegetables without seeds or skins
    • Strained vegetable juice
  • Protein:
    • Tender, well-cooked meat, poultry, or fish
    • Well-cooked eggs or soy foods (cooked without added fat)
    • Smooth nut butters
  • Fats: (Limit fats to less than 8 teaspoons a day)
    • Oil, butter, or margarine, or mayonnaise
    • Cream cheese or salad dressings
  • Liquids:
    • For infants, breast milk or formula
    • Oral rehydration solution
    • Decaffeinated coffee or caffeine-free teas
    • Soft drinks without caffeine

Other guidelines to follow:

  • Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink more liquids than usual to prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may need to drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS helps replace fluids and electrolytes that you lose when you have diarrhea.
  • Eat small meals or snacks every 3 to 4 hours instead of large meals. Continue eating even if you still have diarrhea. Your diarrhea will continue for a few days but should gradually go away.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.