BRAT Diet: BRAT Food List + Substitutes

Pediatricians and health professionals use the BRAT diet to treat patients suffering from a stomach illness, diarrhea, and stomach flu.

Banana and toast for BRAT Diet

BRAT diet refers to Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast diet. Pediatricians and health professionals use the BRAT diet to treat patients suffering from a stomach illness, diarrhea, and stomach flu. The foods were selected because they are easy to digest and can decrease symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea.

How Do These Diet Works?

The BRAT diet may help reduce stomach upset because of the following reasons.

  • Easy on the stomach: The foods are low in protein and fat and they are unlikely to cause stress and irritate the stomach and the digestive system.
  • Soft stools: BRAT foods are low in fiber and starchy that may loose stools.
  • Prevent nausea: BRAT foods have no strong smells and do not cause vomiting and nausea.

Common Upset Stomach Problems

BRAT diet may or might be beneficial for these common digestive problems:

Lactose intolerance

Some significant population problems suffer from lactose intolerance that brings symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, gas, and cramping. You can remedy this condition by buying an over-the-counter pill that can replace the lacking enzyme – lactase. You can also, use some lactose-free milk substitutes. 

Reflux 

Reflux involves symptoms such as heartburn or a feeling of burning and hot sensation rising from your stomach up to your esophagus or around the chest area. Afterward, this may be accompanied by a sour taste and hypersalivation. People who have GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Treatment for this disease includes drugs such as Prilosec, Aciphex, and proton pump inhibitors. 

Peptic ulcers 

Peptic ulcers can cause unexplained pain in the stomach and if left untreated can lead to intestinal hole and infections. Causes could be stress, alcohol use, elevated stomach acid. 

Gallstones

Gallstones can lead to symptoms such as irritable bowel symptoms and affect the normal digestive system. Gallstones can be removed if it blocks the bile flow.

Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis refers to such inflammation and brings symptoms such as abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. 

Constipation

Constipation refers to the difficulty of bowel movement. The condition is caused by diets low in fiber. You can remedy constipation by eating high fiber foods such as fruits (except citric foods for upset stomach)

What Are The Foods In A BRAT Diet?

The acronym BRAT is only the representation of foods allowed in the diet. Other foods include: 

  • Apple sauce
  • Baked or poached skinless chicken
  • Broth
  • Cereal and oatmeal
  • Coconut water
  • Eggs
  • Ginger
  • Leafy greens
  • Lean Meat
  • Non-dairy probiotics
  • Oats
  • Pancakes
  • Papaya
  • Pasta
  • Plain crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Root Crops
  • Root vegetable 
  • Sports drink
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Toast
  • White bread
  • White Rice
  • Yogurt

Foods To Avoid When you Have Upset Stomach

  • Soda: Soda or soft drink contains corn syrup or sugar plus citric acid and preservatives such as sodium benzoate and other chemicals that can upset your stomach. 
  • Dairy: Dairy tops the list of don’t foods in the BRAT diet. Many people are lactose intolerant and thus lack the enzymes needed to digest dairy. Even Though you might not be lactose intolerant, a bacterial or viral infection can affect your lactase levels and thus cause you to lose the ability to digest lactose. On top of that, dairy contains protein which is tough to digest in a lactose-intolerant stomach.
  • Foods with citric acid: Foods high in citric acids such as tomato, lemon, and grapefruit can cause potential acid reflux. 
  • Alcohol: Alcohol contains chemicals that are not easy to digest. It may also affect your liver. 
  • Processed foods: Processed foods contain preservatives that make them last longer. Unfortunately, these foods can upset your digestive system. Foods to avoid include corned beef and processed meat.
  • Refined sugar: Refined sugar can raise your insulin levels and although it may not affect your stomach and can’t make you feel good either.
  • Ice cream: Ice cream is mostly made up of milk and thus dairy. 
  • Fried foods: Fried foods can worsen your stomach upset and it’s not recommended if you have diabetes. Avoid foods such as deep-fried meat, rolls, and fries.
  • Spicy foods: Spicy foods can exacerbate your stomach even further. Avoid spices such as chili and curries.

Besides eating the right food, what are the other practices?

Beyond avoiding some food and eating the right food, you can avoid stomach upset by not overeating, avoiding anxiety and stress, and getting proper exercise.

Food Substitutes For An Upset Stomach?

Protein

Meat proteins can be tough to digest for an upset stomach. These plant-based proteins can substitute for animal-based proteins. That includes lentils, soybeans, chia, almonds, mushrooms, buckwheat, Brussel sprouts, bee pollen, and sacha inchi ( a seed made up of 60% protein).

Spice 

These spices may or might improve your digestion. These includes: 

  • Cardamom
  • Cardamoms
  • Cilantro/Coriander
  • Cinnamon 
  • Cumin
  • Fennel
  • Fenugreek
  • Ginger
  • Lemon balm
  • Turmeric

Dairy substitutes

  • Butter: Coconut butter, vegetable oil blends, and vegan butter made from cashews.
  • Cheese: Cream cheese made from almonds, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, and cashews.
  • Ice cream made from soy milk and coconut milk. 
  • Nut milk: Almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk, hemp milk, rice milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, oat milk, and flaxseed milk.
  • Sour cream – Plain non-dairy yogurt

Benefits of the BRAT Diet?

BRAT diet can help you avoid the symptoms of nausea, eliminate diarrhea and reabsorb nutrients and water. 

Side effects of the BRAT Diet?

BRAT diet may have not enough nutrients such as limited fat, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates. Also, the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases and European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology no longer favors taking the BRAT diet but recommends a well-balanced diet such as meat, fruits, complex carbohydrates, and yogurt. 

The Bottom Line

BRAT diet may or might not be beneficial to your health. One thing that you can be sure of is that it consists of foods that can reduce your stomach upset. Such foods to avoid include dairy, fried foods, citric foods, and alcohol. Depending on your condition, you may or might take different kinds of treatments. If you are unsure, seek advice from a competent dietitian or medical practitioner. 

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