You’ve been there: A nasty case of the stomach flu or a random bout of food poisoning hit you, and you feel weak and shaky…but finally ready to eat something. What to try? Here, registered dietitians share their tips for how to rehydrate and what to eat when you have the stomach flu so you can start feeling like a functional human again.
But before you explore what to eat after the stomach flu, you might want to take notes on what to avoid when battling a stomach bug so you don’t exacerbate the pain. Sheri Kasper, registered dietitian and co-founder of Fresh Communications, suggests steering clear of caffeine, as it can be irritating to the stomach and may make certain symptoms (like diarrhea) worse. “It’s also important to avoid alcohol because the goal right after the stomach flu is to replace fluids and alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes fluid loss,” she adds. “Highly acidic (tomatoes, for example) or spicy/boldly spiced foods can also trigger nausea or stomach pain, so they should be approached with caution.”
If you’re struggling to figure out what to eat when you have the stomach flu, many health experts recommend the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) at first. The key is to start with bland foods. Once your symptoms are resolved, slowly bring back other foods that you love, says Katie Pfeffer-Scanlan, R.D.
“These early forays back into solid-food territory are also when you want to start incorporating more fluids to rebalance electrolytes and ease digestion gently, adds Jessica Spiro, R.D. “The worst thing that generally happens after the stomach flu or food poisoning is dehydration, so replenishing fluids is incredibly important. Soups, smoothies, and water-rich fruits and veggies (think cucumbers and watermelon) are excellent ways to rehydrate.”