Although the BRAT diet has been viewed as the proper treatment for diarrhea for many years, it has recently been deemed too restrictive by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
BRAT diet foods are in fact easy on the digestive system because they’re bland and give the stomach a chance to rest. However, these foods alone lack vital nutrients that the body needs to get well, and this can lead to electrolyte imbalance and malnourishment. The key to eating when suffering from diarrhea is to choose nutrient-rich foods that add bulk to stool and help the body to absorb vitamins and minerals.
BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Pediatricians suggested that infants and children with upset stomachs eat these four foods because they reduce the amount of stool produced by the body and give the gut a chance to rest. Although the BRAT diet was a staple of most pediatricians’ recommendations for children with diarrhea, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that kids resume eating a normal, well-balanced diet within 24 hours of diarrhea symptoms because BRAT diet foods are low in fiber, protein and fat, thereby lacking enough nutrients.
The reasoning behind the BRAT diet is that it includes binding foods that are low in fiber and can help to make stools firmer. It also includes bananas that are rich in potassium and help replace nutrients that are lost due to vomiting or diarrhea. People follow the BRAT diet to help their bodies ease back into normal eating after having diarrhea or upset stomach.
Because the BRAT diet does not provide all of the elements of a healthy diet, children and adults should only follow it for a short period of time. If you stick to only BRAT foods for too long, your body can become malnourished, which makes it hard for you to get better again. Within 24 hours after vomiting or having diarrhea, you should begin to eat a regular diet that includes both fruits and vegetables