Gastro is a horrible experience to go through. It can completely throw your appetite off or you are simply too scared to eat in fear of it making your symptoms even worse. It is however, important to stomach some food during this time, and it is of particular important to keep fluid intake up.
Clear fluid diet
So what should you be eating? The best diet to follow is what we call a clear fluid diet. It is essentially just that – clear fluids only. This will put the least amount of strain on your gastrointestinal tract, which means it can rest when it is inflamed or irritated. This form of diet is also recommended after bowel surgery, a flare up of diverticulitis/Crohn’s disease, or prior to a colonoscopy. The downside of a clear fluid diet is that it is not nutritionally adequate and should therefore only be followed in the short term. Ideally, a regular diet will be resumed within a week.
Food that complies with a clear fluid diet
The list of foods that is best tolerated is by no means expansive or varied. It is for this reason that it should only be followed for a couple of days.
- Clear broths
- Rehydration solutions e.g. Hydralyte
- Diluted flat lemonade
Rehydration solutions can be very useful when you are losing a lot of fluid and unable to keep much down. Dehydration from gastro can be very serious in adults and children. Rehydration solutions come in a range of forms such as icy poles, drinks, and dissolvable powders. If your child is under 6 months of age, struggling to keep fluids down and has persistent vomiting or diarrhoea, it is important to take them straight to the doctor or hospital.
Foods and drinks that should be avoided when you have gastro include:
- Dairy – lactose is often poorly absorbed when the digestive tract is upset
- Fruit juice
After you have followed a clear fluid diet, you will be able to slowly transition back to a regular diet. It is best to do this somewhat gradually so that you don’t overwhelm your digestive tract. Start with plain, bland foods, and work your way up from there e.g. plain crackers, toast and margarine, soup, rice. If a lot of weight has been lost, then you may need to follow a higher energy/protein diet until it is regained.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nutritionist. If you have questions about nutrition, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns.