The best foods to eat after food poisoning are usually bland ones that do not irritate the stomach. Clear liquids and drinks that help to rehydrate a person will aid in the recovery process after food poisoning.
Food poisoning occurs when a person eats contaminated or undercooked foods tainted with germs such as Campylobacter, E. coli, norovirus, Salmonella, or Vibrio.
When a person eats these foods, they can experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramping, and headache. These symptoms can make it hard to keep down food.
Once a person starts feeling better and they are no longer vomiting, they may wish to start reintroducing foods that will restore their energy.
When a person has food poisoning, they lose fluids and electrolytes via diarrhea and vomiting. Electrolytes are minerals that help maintain the balance of fluids in the body. Losing fluids and electrolyes can result in dehydration.
For this reason, it is important to start the recovery process by consuming fluids.
Drinks to try
The Infectious Diseases Society of America recommends oral rehydration solutions to treat mild-to-moderate dehydration after vomiting or diarrhea. Severe dehydration requires emergency medical care.
Other options include herbal teas. Some people find that ginger tea helps to calm the stomach. In fact, there is evidence that consuming ginger can
Lemon tea may also be one to try. In a 2014 study, the scent of lemon essential oil was found to relieve nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
However, a person who is dehydrated should try to use oral rehydration solutions before moving on to other liquids.
It is important to avoid caffeinated drinks, as these can stimulate the colon and cause a bowel movement.
Foods to try
When a person reintroduces food after a bout of food poisoning, the goal is to eat foods that are easy to digest. A diet for an upset stomach typically contains bland, low-fat, low-fiber foods.
One version of this is the BRAT diet. BRAT stands for:
The BRAT diet is one of the main dietary
People suggest this diet is ideal for helping a person recover because the four foods are bland in taste and high in starch. As a result, they help bind stools together and reduce the incidence of diarrhea.
There is some evidence that
The banana in the BRAT diet contains some potassium, which may help replace lost electrolytes.
However, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, there is limited evidence to support the BRAT diet as a way to manage diarrhea. Instead, they suggest that it may be appropriate to follow a regular diet once a person is rehydrated and ready to begin eating again.
For people choosing to stick with low-fat, low-fiber foods during recovery, some other options to try include:
- clear broths
- instant or quick-cooking oatmeal
- plain boiled potatoes
- saltine crackers
- baked chicken without skin
These foods are good to eat because of their blandness, starchiness, and nutritional content. The longer the illness lasts, the more protein a person needs to aid the healing process and prevent muscle breakdown in the absence of enough food and calories.
Once a person can keep down these mild foods, they may consider returning to their regular diet.
Food poisoning often irritates and inflames the stomach and intestines. Consequently, after food poisoning, people may choose to eat foods that are easier to digest and therefore less likely to cause stomach upset.
Examples of foods to avoid are:
High fat foods
Fried foods such as fried chicken, french fries, and other high-fat items are difficult to digest. Dietary fat delays gastric emptying, which slows digestion. This could contribute to feelings of bloating or nausea.
After food poisoning, a person may wish to delay reintroducing these foods.
High fiber foods
In most cases, high fiber foods have digestive benefits. But with food poisoning, a person may wish to temporarily limit their intake. High fiber foods can be tough to digest and may increase symptoms.
Examples of high fiber foods include:
- many vegetables and fruits, such as avocado, broccoli, and apples
- whole grain breads
- brown rice
Cooked fruits and vegetables may be easier on the stomach than their raw counterparts.
While research is limited, some people find that foods prepared with hot peppers or spices can irritate the stomach while recovering from food poisoning. For this reason, a person may wish to avoid spicy foods until they are certain their stomach is fully healed.
Some dairy foods
Certain dairy foods such as cheese and ice cream are typically high in fat, which may upset the stomach after food poisoning. So, people may want to avoid them in favor of hydrating beverages and less-irritating foods.
Most dairy products contain a sugar called lactose, though the amount can vary. Some evidence suggests that avoiding lactose while ill may help young children recover from acute diarrhea more quickly. However, it is best to talk with a doctor or pediatrician before removing foods from a child’s diet.
Some people may choose to temporarily avoid drinking milk after having food poisoning. It is possible to develop a temporary lactose intolerance after a gastrointestinal infection. In such cases, a person may experience symptoms when drinking milk or eating dairy foods high in lactose.
Drinks to avoid
Many people may consider sports beverages a good alternative to oral rehydration solutions. However, the
These drinks can also contain high amounts of sugar, which can be stimulating to the bowels and could worsen symptoms.
If these drink types are all that a person has available, they should dilute them with water.
Other drinks to avoid include:
- dark sodas
- caffeinated tea
Caffeinated beverages can stimulate the colon and cause bowel movements, which is something to avoid when recovering.
Eating fermented foods may help to replace the beneficial gut bacteria lost during the illness. Fermented foods include:
- yogurt with live cultures
- miso soup
A person can often treat mild to moderate food poisoning with at-home care. However, if a person has severe symptoms such as the following, they should see a doctor:
- diarrhea lasting more than 3 days
- bloody diarrhea
- dehydration symptoms, such as urinating less than usual, dry mouth and throat, or dizziness upon standing
- fever above 102°F (38.9°C)
- vomiting that prevents a person from keeping liquids down
- fever and flu-like symptoms during pregnancy
If a person has any of these symptoms, they may need intravenous fluids to re-hydrate them. They can also receive medications to reduce nausea and slow movement in the gut to reduce diarrhea. Sometimes, a person may need to take antibiotics to reduce levels of bacteria in their stomach.
Food poisoning is an unpleasant condition that ideally will improve after a few days. A person can carefully start to reintroduce bland foods and hydrating beverages to reduce their symptoms and help them feel stronger after being ill.
However, if people experience severe symptoms such as a high fever, decreased urine output, or bloody diarrhea, they should see a doctor right away. A doctor can recommend further treatments that can help them feel better and overcome their food poisoning.