Health & Fitness

What To Eat After Food Poisoning?

Have you ever been struck by the dreaded food poisoning? That horrible feeling of nausea, cramps, vomiting, and other unpleasant symptoms can make you never ...

by Kendra Reed

What To Eat After Food Poisoning?

Have you ever been struck by the dreaded food poisoning? That horrible feeling of nausea, cramps, vomiting, and other unpleasant symptoms can make you never want to look at food again. But eventually, you’ll need to start eating and drinking again to regain your strength. Deciding what to eat after food poisoning can be tricky – you want gentle foods on your stomach while providing the nutrients you need to recover.

This article will walk you through the best and worst foods for bouncing back after food poisoning.

Food Poisoning Symptoms

Food Poisoning Symptoms

Food poisoning, called foodborne illness, occurs when you consume contaminated food or beverages. The symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild to severe and usually start within a few days of consuming the tainted food.

Common food poisoning symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue

Severe cases can lead to dehydration, bloody stools, and even hospitalization. If your symptoms are severe or persist for more than a few days, seek medical attention.

What Steps Should I Take After Food Poisoning?

When you first realize you have food poisoning, letting your stomach rest is important. Stop eating solid foods for a few hours and focus on drinking small sips of water or other clear fluids like broth or diluted electrolyte drinks. This allows your digestive system to flush out any remaining contaminants.

As you start feeling better, you can slowly introduce bland, easy-to-digest foods into your diet. Stick with small portions at first to avoid overwhelming your sensitive stomach.

Best Foods and Drinks to Eat After Food Poisoning

The key foods to focus on after food poisoning are gentle, hydrating, rich in nutrients, and easy to digest. Some great options include:

Bananas

High in potassium and easy on the stomach. The BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) was once a staple recommendation, though nutrition experts now advise a bit more variety.

Rice

Plain white or brown rice provides binding calories without much fiber to further upset your system. Avoid fried rice or heavily seasoned rice dishes.

Applesauce

A good source of easily digested carbs and nutrients like Vitamin C. Choose unsweetened varieties.

Toast

Opt for plain dry toast or saltine crackers, simple starches that can help settle your stomach.

Chicken broth or soup

Broth is hydrating and the sodium can help replenish electrolytes lost from vomiting/diarrhea. Avoid heavy or cream-based soups.

Sports drinks

These provide electrolytes and minerals like potassium to aid recovery. Avoid caffeine and dairy-based beverages.

Nut butter

Once your appetite returns, nut butter offers a dose of protein and healthy fats in an easily digestible form.

For extra hydration, suck on ice chips, sip coconut water, or try a rehydration solution like Pedialyte or Gatorade. As you start feeling better, you can gradually add more complex foods like yogurt, oatmeal, soft fruits, and veggies.

What Not to Eat After Food Poisoning

While you’re recovering from food poisoning, it’s best to temporarily avoid certain foods that could further irritate your digestive system, including:

  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, ice cream
  • Fatty or greasy foods 
  • Sugary treats, sodas, and juices
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Raw fruits and veggies
  • Whole grains and high-fiber foods
  • Spicy, fried, or heavy foods

These items can be difficult to digest and may prolong symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain. Once you’ve gone 24-48 hours without vomiting or diarrhea, you can slowly start incorporating lighter versions of these foods back into your diet.

How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?

Most cases of food poisoning clear up within 1-2 days for adults, though some types of infections can last over a week. Young children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems may experience more severe or prolonged illness. Food poisoning is rarely life-threatening for most people, but dehydration is a major concern, especially for vulnerable populations like infants.

To speed recovery, be sure to replace fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhea and reintroduce foods slowly to avoid overloading your system.

How Long After Food Poisoning Can You Eat Normally?  

Once your symptoms have completely resolved and you’ve been able to keep down a variety of bland foods for 24-48 hours, you can likely start working your way back to a normal, well-rounded diet. Take it slow at first, avoiding any potential trigger foods, heavy meals, or alcohol right away. Listen to your body and eat whatever sits comfortably. It may take a few more days for your appetite and digestion to fully return to baseline.

Why Is the BRAT Diet No Longer Recommended?

For decades, the go-to recommendation for adults and children with diarrhea, vomiting, or food poisoning was the BRAT diet – bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. While these binding foods can help calm an upset stomach, modern nutrition advice is to also include other nutrient-dense options like broths, nut butter, and hydrating fluids.

The BRAT diet alone lacks protein, healthy fats, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals – all important for a full recovery. As such, experts now advise cycling through a wider mix of bland, easy-to-digest foods after food poisoning rather than restricting intake to just the BRAT items.

Conclusion

Food poisoning is never fun, but being strategic about what you eat and drink in the aftermath can help you bounce back quicker. Focus first on letting your stomach rest and staying hydrated. Then, gradually incorporate bland, easy-to-digest foods like bananas, rice, toast, broths, and applesauce. Avoid anything too rich, spicy, sugary or high in fiber until your symptoms have fully resolved.

With the right diet and lots of fluids, you’ll be back on your feet before you know it. Pay close attention to how various foods make you feel and don’t hesitate to get medical attention if dehydration sets in or your symptoms persist for more than a couple of days. Here’s to a speedy recovery and never experiencing food poisoning again!

Author

  • Kendra Reed

    Dr. Kendra Reed is a dedicated general medicine physician with 7 years of clinical experience. After graduating from medical school, she completed her residency in internal medicine, developing a well-rounded skillset in diagnosing and treating a diverse range of conditions. Patients appreciate Dr. Reed's warm bedside manner and commitment to providing comprehensive, personalized care. In addition to her clinical work, she is actively involved in community outreach programs, educating the public on important health topics. Dr. Reed is known for her ability to establish trusting relationships with her patients and help them achieve their wellness goals.

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