(Rotavirus Diet; Stomach Flu Diet; Viral Gastroenteritis Diet)
by Sarah J. Kerr, BA
What Is a Gastroenteritis Diet?
A gastroenteritis diet includes the kinds of foods you should eat or give to a child who has gastroenteritis. The symptoms of gastroenteritis usually last 1-2 days. However, they can last up to 10 days. Symptoms include:
Why Should I Eat a Gastroenteritis Diet?
This diet can help you feel more comfortable and prevent dehydration. In the past, gastroenteritis diets have included withholding food for 24 hours and the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast). However, experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), do not recommend withholding food or the BRAT diet.
If you or your child has gastroenteritis, choose a diet that is nutritious and prevents dehydration. For most people of all ages, that diet is your normal food intake, perhaps modified slightly by limiting sugars and fatty or spicy foods.
The following information will help you make good dietary choices for yourself or your child with gastroenteritis.
Gastroenteritis Eating Guide TOP
The goal of a gastroenteritis diet is to prevent dehydration. It is also important to maintain a proper balance of electrolytes. Electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, are minerals your body needs to work properly. Vomiting and diarrhea can take too many electrolytes out of your body. Choose foods that will help you to rehydrate, regulate the balance of electrolytes in your body, and maintain nutrition.
You should also avoid alcohol and nicotine.
Special Guidelines for Infants
Gastroenteritis is a common cause of diarrhea in infants. Follow these steps to prevent and treat dehydration in your infant:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends giving an ORS at the onset of diarrhea. It is important to continue regular feedings of breast milk or formula along with this therapy. Once dehydration has been corrected, the doctor may have you return to normal breast or formula feedings. Dehydration can be serious. Get medical care right away if your child is not tolerating the feedings or the rehydration solution.
Special Guidelines for Children
As much as possible during and after an episode of gastroenteritis, your child should eat normally to maintain nutrition. After his symptoms improve, he may need extra calories to make up for losses during his illness. If your child has gastroenteritis, follow these steps:
For infants and children:
Special Guidelines for Adults
For adults with gastroenteritis, these steps can help you feel better and prevent dehydration:
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
Canadian Paediatric Society
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Managing acute gastroenteritis among children: oral rehydration, maintenance, and nutritional therapy. MMWR. 2003;52. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/rr/rr5216.pdf . Accessed January 31, 2012.
Colletti JE, Brown KM, Sharieff GQ, Barata IA, Ishimine P; ACEP Pediatric Emergency Medicine Committee. The management of children with gastroenteritis and dehydration in the emergency department. J Emerg Med. 2010;38(5):686-698.
Gastroenteritis. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.cincinn... . Updated June 2009. Accessed January 31, 2012.
Gastroenteritis. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelan... . Updated October 2007. Accessed June 16, 2011.
Kohlne D. Rotavirus. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated March 2011. Accessed June 16, 2011.
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Rotavirus gastroenteritis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ . Updated June 2011. Accessed June 16, 2011.
Shannon DW. Viral gastroenteritis. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated September 2010. Accessed June 16, 2011.
The treatment of diarrhea: a manual for physicians and other senior health workers. World Health Organization website. Available at: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2005/9241593180.pdf . Updated 2005. Accessed June 16, 2011.
Last reviewed December 2011 by Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RD
Last Updated: 12/30/2011