Best Foods to Eat After the Stomach Flu: Nutrition & Hydration Survival Guide

Best foods to eat after the stomach flu main header image with a picture of broth based soup with carrots and onions surrounding it.

There isn’t much that is worse than having the stomach flu run rampant through your entire household, especially as a mom. When moms get sick with the stomach flu, we don’t have the luxury of spending days in bed trying to get better so it’s important that we recover as quickly as possible. Figuring out the best foods to eat during, and after, the stomach flu will help to ensure a fast recovery for us moms.

The stomach flu is better known as gastroenteritis, and is not to be confused with the “flu” or Influenza. There are many different types of viruses that can cause gastroenteritis but the symptoms typically consist of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

While most of us have heard of the BRAT diet, which consists of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, it can be very restrictive and is just an abbreviated term for what you should be eating after a bout of the stomach flu. Let’s discuss how to stay hydrated, and what other foods are appropriate to eat as well!

The Importance of Preventing Dehydration and Replacing Electrolytes

Preventing dehydration and electrolyte losses should be the primary focus when on the mend from the stomach flu. Signs of dehydration can include increased heart rate, dark yellow urine, dry mouth and lips, and feeling dizzy or lightheaded (1).

Glucose, sodium, and potassium are depleted as consequences of diarrhea and vomiting. When our body is depleted of these electrolytes, we may feel fatigue, lethargy, and muscle cramps.  If you’re a mom and have kids to take care of – this can lead to a longer recovery. Therefore, it’s important to try and replace these losses as quickly as tolerated.  

Often during the first day of symptoms, we tend to have decreased or no appetite at all. However, it is very important to attempt to hydrate to prevent these complications – and an electrolyte solution is just a more efficient way to do that by both replenishing electrolytes lost and keeping us hydrated. It may be better to tolerate frequent, small sips of liquids.

Best Fluids For Electrolyte Replacement

An oral rehydration solution is designed specifically to treat or prevent dehydration and contains glucose, sodium and potassium. Below are some options which are safe for kids 1+ and should only be used when you suspect you or your child have lost electrolytes or could become dehydrated.

Pedialyte: Can be used by both adults and children. One packet contains only 6 grams of added sugars, with 240 mg sodium, 180 mg potassium, and 290 mg of chloride.

– Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier: In one serving, it contains 10 grams of added sugar, 500 mg sodium, 370 mg potassium, additional B vitamins, and Vitamin C. According to their website, it utilizes Cellular Transport Technology (CTT) to help deliver hydration faster and more efficiently. Their website says it is safe for kids 1+.

– Homemade Recipe: There are many variations you can find on the internet, but they often don’t taste as good and aren’t as convenient as the ones listed above. An example would be ½ teaspoon of table salt, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, mixed with one liter of water.

Electrolyte drinks typically have less sodium and potassium than an oral rehydration solution. Some are also higher in sugar, which may not be ideal for younger children. However, they are good options if your symptoms are more mild.

– Gatorade Thirst Quencher Powder: 230 mg sodium, 70 mg potassium, 32 grams added sugars.

– Vita Coco Coconut Water: 2 grams added sugar, 75 mg sodium, 979 mg potassium per 16 ounce container.

– Propel Immune Support Zero Sugar: 0 added sugars, 230 mg sodium, 60 mg potassium.

In summary, an important part of recovery is preventing dehydration and replacing electrolyte losses. There are many options available for replenishing electrolytes – you can even make your own solution. However, some options are better than others and you should pick accordingly depending on the severity of your symptoms. 

Super Simple Dot Soup Recipe

This soup is a staple in our household when appetites are poor, and every kid I know absolutely loves it. It’s simple to make, great for replacing the sodium losses, and easy to digest- even when symptoms are still active. This recipe serves 2-3 people.

Ingredients (3-4 servings): 

  •  1/3 cup of Acini De Pepe or Orzo noodles (any noodle can be used, but I find kids love the “dots”)
  • 2 Tbsp. Salted Butter
  • 4 Cups Water
  • 4 Tsp. Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base

Directions:

  • Add water to a pot on medium-high heat.
  • Once water is boiling, add butter, noodles, and bouillon. 
  • Cook noodles according to package directions, about 7-9 minutes.
  • Serve with grated parmesan cheese (optional).
  • Taste test – add more bouillon for more flavor. This is not the time to care about sodium content!
    *Canned peas, carrots, chopped chicken can be added as tolerated (recommended a few hours after symptoms have resolved)
best foods to eat after the stomach flu

When Can You Eat After a Stomach Virus?

Most experts agree that while symptoms are the most active you should follow a clear liquid diet which consists of fluids, broth, juices, popsicles, and electrolyte replacement drinks. Once it has been a few hours since you have had vomiting or diarrhea, you can gradually introduce easily digestible foods into your diet. 

After 24-48 hours, you can start to introduce more foods – but only as tolerated (2). If you are experiencing any symptoms right after eating, that is a sign that you may be advancing your diet too quickly.

Best Foods To Eat After A Stomach Bug

What foods you should start to introduce into your diet once symptoms have alleviated? While BRAT, which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast is accurate – there are many other food options which can be added into the diet right after the stomach flu. 

The reasoning behind the BRAT diet is to ensure what you are eating are bland, easily digestible foods. It typically refers to foods that are soft in texture, low in fiber and easy to digest. Foods should be bland with little flavor or spice.

Foods that are easy to digest:

  • White rice, pasta, macaroni, or noodles
  • Breads, bagels, English Muffins, waffles, pancake, or rolls made with white flour
  • Sherbet and popsicles
  • All fruit juices without pulp
  • Avocado, peeled/skinless raw fruits, applesauce, canned fruits
  • Soups, with less tough, fibrous meats and well cooked vegetables
  • Cooked asparagus, peeled potatoes, carrots, squash, tomatoes, mushrooms
  • Ground or tender meats
  • Eggs
  • Sugar, in moderation, like jelly, syrup, honey, and small candies

Foods that are difficult to digest:

  • Raw vegetables
  • Tough, fibrous meats – like steak, hot dogs
  • Fried, greasy or fatty foods
  • Cereals, breads and grains made with whole wheat or that contain high fiber
  • Dairy, in most cases
  • Caffeinated and carbonated beverages

For example, you could eat diced up chicken breast, white rice, and well-cooked potatoes.

Ensure Your Fast Road To Recovery…

By ensuring adequate hydration, replacing lost electrolytes and adding in soft, digestible foods as tolerated we can promote faster recovery for us moms – to take care of ourselves and our kids. Make sure to rest whenever you can. 

This topic was inspired by my own experience with the stomach flu (one of many, that is). As a stay-at-home mom, I often don’t get a “rest day” (like my husband does). I ensure that I am sipping an electrolyte replacement drink (Liquid IV is typically what I use) and even manage to make dot soup. 

I will make a large batch of dot soup if I anticipate my kids will be getting sick, as soup and popsicles are often all they will consume when they are sick with the stomach flu. My oldest won’t touch Pedialyte, sadly (not even the popsicles). If you’re reading this while sick, get better mama! I know it’s hell – but it will get better. 

*This post does contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I make a small compensation when a purchase is made.

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