What Is the BRAT Diet?

Photo Courtesy: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision/Getty Images

The BRAT diet is an acronym that stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Tea and yogurt may also help, but they’re not always included with the diet. The BRAT diet can be especially helpful for you if you’re experiencing gastrointestinal issues.

The BRAT diet incorporates simple, bland foods that are easy for your body to process while still providing necessary nutrients. People usually use this diet to help settle their upset stomachs and keep their bodies nourished while they’re recovering from gastrointestinal illnesses.

How Does the BRAT Diet Work?

The BRAT diet is ideal to follow during times of gastrointestinal distress. You should follow it while your stomach issues are still occurring and while you’re transitioning back to your regular diet after you’ve recovered. The bland foods can help settle your stomach and still provide nutrients that your body might have lost due to diarrhea or vomiting. The BRAT diet also consists of foods that are rich in starch to help firm up your stools, which can help with diarrhea.

Are There Any Other Foods You Can Eat on This Diet?

Photo Courtesy: Stephanie Starr/EyeEm/Getty Images

While the original BRAT acronym might not include them, there are other bland foods you can eat to find relief from gastrointestinal issues. These other foods may not upset your stomach further:

  • Plain potatoes
  • Light broth soups
  • Low-sodium crackers
  • Clear drinks with electrolytes
  • A little honey to put on your toast

When you experience gastrointestinal issues, you should focus on eating foods that are bland and easy for your digestive system to break down. An alternative to the BRAT diet is the CRAM diet, which stands for:

  • Cereal
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Milk

The CRAM diet may have more nutrients, including protein and fat, because of the milk. Keep in mind that you should avoid sugary cereals. Stick to blander options like low-sugar rice cereals and oatmeal.

Foods to Avoid on the Brat Diet

There are some foods that can irritate your stomach more if you’re having gastrointestinal pain and other issues. Try to avoid:

  • Fried or greasy foods
  • Raw vegetables, fruits and nuts
  • Carbonated, sugary or alcoholic drinks

Bland foods are best for an upset stomach, but not everyone is affected by the same foods. If there are other foods you already know will sometimes upset your stomach even when you aren’t ill, it’s best to avoid those as well.

Is the BRAT Diet Meant for Kids or Adults?

Photo Courtesy: Catherine Delahaye/DigitalVision/Getty Images

More and more healthcare professionals are advising against the BRAT diet for children. The diet doesn’t provide all the nutrients a child needs in a day. If your child is having gastrointestinal issues, some principles of the BRAT diet can be helpful if you use them for a short period of time. Avoiding certain foods and adding a couple of the more bland items may help your child in getting over their sickness.

A diet restricted only to bananas, rice, applesauce and toast is a safe way to avoid further problems with an already upset stomach for a short amount of time. You shouldn’t use this diet alone for long periods of time — but it can help you while you’re sick.

Resource Links:

BRAT Diet: Eating After An Upset Stomach or Vomiting,” Family Doctor 

Diarrhea in Children: What Parents Need to Know,” HealthyChildren.org