Diarrhea and Diet

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

When occasional diarrhea strikes, it may due to a virus infection (commonly known as stomach flu) or food poisoning. Sometimes, allergies or medications may trigger diarrhea.  Other times, it may due to undiagnosed conditions such as diverticulitis, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, etc. Therefore, if diarrhea occurs more frequent then you want, or you can see a pattern to when it strikes, it’s important to get to the bottom of this and find the underlying causes.

Diarrhea and Diet

Drink lots of liquid. This will replace lost fluids. Water, juices (except prune juice), broth or consomme, ginger ale, jello and weak tea are all good sources of fluid. Drink a cup of liquid after each bathroom run.

Limit the following foods. Unfortunately, there are a lot we do not know about the effects that foods have on diarrhea. Don’t try these all at once, rather try a couple suggestions at a time to find those that work best for you. This will prevent you from avoiding some foods unnecessarily.

  • In some cases milk and milk products such as milk, cheese, pudding and ice cream can made diarrhea worse. Reduce your use of these foods to see if your diarrhea gets better. If you think these may be a problem, talk to your dietitian or doctor for more information. Lactose-free milk or soy beverages may be better tolerated.
  • Limit your use of high fat foods such as fried foods, fatty meats, high fat desserts, excess butter or margarine, higher fat milk products like whipping cream, and greasy snack foods like chips.
  • Try to reduce the amount of fiber in your diet. Fiber is found mostly in fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, nuts and seeds.
  • Some people find that removing the skins, seeds and membranes from fruits and vegetables makes these foods easier to digest. Canned or well-cooked fruits and vegetables may also be easier to digest.
  • Limit your used of dried fruits, berries, rhubarb, legumes (lentils, kidney beans, lima beans), peas, corn, broccoli, spinach and nuts. They may make diarrhea worse for some people.
  • If you have gas or bloating, you may find it helpful to avoid gassy foods. These include dried peas and beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, Brussels sprouts, carbonated beverages, beer and chewing gum.
  • Avoid carbonated drinks, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks.

In generally, the following foods are well-tolerated:

  • Meat: eggs, lean fish, and skinless poultry
  • Grains: white rice, plain noodles, refined bakery, cream of wheat, oatmeal, and oat bran
  • Fruits: skinless apples, bananas, peaches, melons, applesauce, skinless pear and apricots. These foods are high in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that helps reduce diarrhea.
  • Tofu: With soluble fiber, it helps firm up stools.


bloated, celiac, diarrhea, diverticulitis, gas, healthy gut, lactose intolerance, soluble fiber


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