With viral gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, it can be hard to eat or keep food down. However, bland foods, boiled starches, and certain drinks may help a person recover.

The BRAT diet, certain fruits, fluids containing electrolytes, and probiotics may also help.

Read on to learn more about foods and drinks that a person can consume to help their recovery if they have stomach flu. This article also discusses other other ways to feel better and when to contact a doctor.

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According to a 2023 article, a bland diet consists of easily digestible foods that do not put a strain on the stomach.

The article recommends following a bland diet for or following stomach flu and several other conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract.

A bland diet can include:

If cooking these foods, a person should be careful when frying them in fats such as butter or oil, as this can worsen stomach flu symptoms. An alternative way to cook them is by boiling them.

Learn more about what a person can eat on a bland diet.

The BRAT diet is a type of bland diet. The letters in the term “BRAT” stand for what a person can eat on this diet, namely:

According to the Oncology Nursing Society, doctors may recommend the BRAT diet for adults and children with upset stomachs or diarrhea.

A person can ease into a bland diet as they feel ready for food. Generally, with the BRAT diet, a person can incorporate additional foods back into their diet as they feel better.

Learn more about the BRAT diet.

A person can eat boiled starches when they have diarrhea. Boiled starches can include foods such as:

Both diarrhea and vomiting can cause a person to lose a lot of liquids. Drinking fluids that contain electrolytes can help prevent dehydration.

In drinks

To help prevent dehydration, older children and adults can drink sports drinks such as Gatorade.

However, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) recommends avoiding drinks that have a lot of added sugar, such as certain fruit juices and sodas. These can make diarrhea symptoms worse.

A person can read the label of the food or drink product to understand its sugar content.

Learn how to tell if a product has too much sugar.

In food

In terms of food, saltine crackers can be a good way to replace electrolytes.

Learn more about electrolytes in food.

Oral rehydration solutions, which contain glucose and electrolytes, are another good way of rehydrating the body if it has lost liquids due to stomach flu.

To make an oral rehydration solution at home, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends boiling 1 liter of water, adding half a small spoonful of salt and six level small spoons of sugar, and dissolving.

For children, the NIDDK recommends the following oral rehydration solutions as alternatives:

  • Pedialyte
  • Naturalyte
  • Infalyte
  • CeraLyte

However, some research suggests that giving a child diluted juice can have equal if not more positive results in terms of treating stomach flu.

A great way to include liquids in the diet that give more flavor is to consume teas. Certain types of tea may also provide extra benefits to a person with stomach flu.

Ginger tea

A 2015 review found that many studies show the positive effects of ginger tea in reducing nausea. However, the review authors did go on to say that more studies are necessary to confirm this.

Peppermint tea

Peppermint tea may also help with nausea and sickness. According to Cancer Research UK, this is because peppermint might help slow down the gut.

More research about the benefits of teas, including ginger tea and peppermint tea, for stomach bugs is necessary.

Certain fruits may help with rehydration. Fruits contain high percentages of water, and some have a higher percentage than most, including:

  • Yellow peaches: Raw yellow peaches are 88.3% water.
  • Melons: Raw cantaloupe melons are 90.2% water.
  • Strawberries: Raw strawberries are 91% water.
  • Watermelon: Raw watermelons are 91.4% water.

The above list includes only raw fruits as solid food. People should be careful when choosing fruit juices to ensure that they do not contain excessive amounts of sugar.

Learn more about hydrating foods.

Sometimes, a doctor may advise a person to consume probiotics. These contain bacteria that are healthy for the stomach and can help treat diarrhea.

Examples of probiotics that may help recover from the stomach flu include:

It is best to contact a doctor before taking probiotics.

Learn more about including probiotics in a healthy diet.

According to the NIDDK, there are several foods and beverages that a person should avoid to help prevent additional or worsening symptoms of stomach flu.

Some items they suggest avoiding include:

  • caffeinated beverages, such as black tea and coffee
  • drinks with large amounts of simple sugars, such as soda
  • high fat foods

It is also best for a person with stomach flu to also avoid:

Alongside dietary changes, a person can take other steps to help recover from stomach flu.


Dehydration, along with the illness itself, can cause fatigue. It is important to get plenty of rest if a person has stomach flu.


Taking diarrhea or nausea medications can also help. A doctor or pharmacist can advise on which medications may be suitable.

Diarrhea medications

Adults can take over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat diarrhea. These medications can include loperamide (Imodium) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol).

A person should always contact a doctor before giving children OTC medication, as some medications can be unsafe for children or infants.

Nausea medications

Doctors may recommend antiemetics to ease nausea or sickness. Examples of antiemetics include:

Learn more about nausea medications.

A person often does not need to see a doctor for stomach flu, as it is self-limiting and will typically go away within a week.

A person should contact a doctor if they have symptoms of dehydration, such as dark urine and a dry mouth.

A person needs emergency medical care if they experience more severe symptoms of dehydration, such as:

Here are some frequently asked questions about stomach flu.

What is the quickest way to get rid of a stomach bug?

Consuming a bland diet, drinking enough fluids, and getting plenty of rest can help a person recover from a stomach bug as quickly as possible. OTC medications can also help manage symptoms.

How long does stomach flu last?

Stomach flu typically resolves within a week. If symptoms persist for longer than this, it is best to contact to doctor for advice.

Consuming certain foods and drinks may help a person with viral gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, recover or manage symptoms.

When ready for food, a person can eat bland foods such as bread, bananas, applesauce, and cooked starches. It is best to avoid fatty foods, spicy foods, alcohol, and sugary beverages.

It is most important for a person to keep drinking fluids to help prevent dehydration. Oral hydration solutions and fluids with electrolytes may also help.

A person should contact a doctor if they experience severe symptoms of dehydration, such as dizziness, rapid heartbeat, or rapid breathing.