I have to disagree with some of the content of these posts. The Gale encyclopedia article seems particularly misinformed and misleading. For example:
"Caffeine, since it increases urine output, should be avoided."
Caffeine does act as a diuretic, and so it could worsen dehydration in the setting of gastroenteritis. But it also increases gastrointestinal motility, which I think would be a potentially more serious and definitely more uncomfortable reason to avoid it.
"The traditional BRAT diet--bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast--is tolerated by the tender gastrointestinal system, but it is not particularly nutritious. Many, but not all, medical researchers recommend a diet that includes complex carbohydrates (e.g., rice, wheat, potatoes, bread, and cereal), lean meats, yogurt, fruit, and vegetables."
This doesn't make much sense to me. The BRAT diet certainly doesn't provide complete nutrition, but that doesn't matter. You're only supposed to be on this diet for a few days while your gut gets over an infection- or toxin-induced irritation, and you can make up for the missing nutrients later as you advance your diet back to normal. Starches like potatoes and bread should be well tolerated, but fiber is also a complex carbohydrate, and it should be avoided if you have gastroenteritis. So, putting some noodles in your broth will be okay, but I'd avoid even cooked vegetables at an early stage, and raw crunchy fruits and vegetables are right out. Adding a touch of sesame oil to the broth would certainly make it taste better, and you may well be able to tolerate it. But it does represent a challenge that's greater than that of the BRAT diet, strictly speaking, as does even lean meat. Try them if you feel like taking your recovery to the next level, but know that that's what you'd be doing. Hot sauce would be an even more advanced step.
"Milk and other dairy products shouldn't create problems if they are part of the normal diet."
This is just wrong. Enteritis can render lactase temporarily ineffective. Any dairy product, especially a fatty one, will be relatively harder to digest and may aggravate your symptoms. Again, you may find that you can tolerate dairy products, and that's great, because it means that your gut is doing better than you thought. But dairy products are not recommended as the first step. As I said before, some people remain lactose-intolerant for a number of weeks after gastroenteritis, even if they can tolerate other very challenging foods.
"Minimal to moderate dehydration is treated with oral rehydrating solutions that contain glucose and electrolytes. These solutions are commercially available under names such as Naturalyte, Pedialyte, Infalyte, and Rehydralyte. Oral rehydrating solutions are formulated based on physiological properties. Fluids that are not based on these properties--such as cola, apple juice, broth, and sports beverages--are not recommended to treat dehydration."
It's true that Pedialyte, etc. are designed to replace lost electrolytes in a close-to-physiologic way, so they're the best possible choice, especially in delicate situations such as small children with gastroenteritis. Babies can lose a lot of their body weight and get very sick very quickly. But for a reasonably healthy young adult with a mild case of gastroenteritis, who's being treated at home, and able to keep down saltines, broth, etc., I don't think you should be afraid of using things like ginger ale or gatorade to rehydrate yourself.
"IV therapy can be followed with oral rehydration as the patient's condition improves. Once normal hydration is achieved, the patient can return to a regular diet."
Being able to adequately rehydrate yourself orally doesn't mean it's safe to return to a regular diet. I presume that the original poster is staying adequately hydrated at home (if not, you need to go to the ER now!) But your gut probably isn't ready for a bean burrito yet. The idea is to start with clear liquids, advance as tolerated to the BRAT diet, then bland, low-fat, non-dairy foods, finally getting to high-fiber or spicy foods only when you can tolerate them. If you advance too quickly, you may aggravate your symptoms.
"Symptoms of uncomplicated gastroenteritis can be relieved with adjustments in diet, herbal remedies, and homeopathy. An infusion of meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) may be effective in reducing nausea and stomach acidity. Once the worst symptoms are relieved, slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) can help calm the digestive tract. Of the homeopathic remedies available, Arsenicum album, ipecac, or Nux vomica are three said to relieve the symptoms of gastroenteritis."
I can't comment on herbal remedies, because I just don't know much about them. But it's hard for me to see how ipecac, which is used to induce vomiting in people who have ingested poisons, would help to alleviate the symptoms of gastroenteritis. Maybe I'm missing something?
"Castor oil packs to the abdomen can reduce inflammation and also reduce spasms or discomfort."
I've never heard of castor oil packs, but unless they're warm or something, I can't see how putting them on the outside of your abdomen would help. And if that's the idea, then wouldn't a hot water bottle work just as well? Me personally, I wouldn't put warm things on any part of my skin if I had gastroenteritis, because they'd cause cutaneous vasodilation, and steal blood away from the gut. Sort of like exercising when you have a stomach cramp.
I guess all this goes to show that you have to be careful believing stuff you read on the internet (irony entirely intended :-).
this (Caseophile's) is a long post but it seems pretty sensible to me.
During a recent bout with gastroenteritis, my doctor told me that once I was able to handle liquids again without difficulty (yes I was given some medication to treat this), I could start with the BRAT diet for a couple of days, advancing to bland, easy-to-digest foods like plain chicken as I found possible/tolerable. If things held steady there I could start to slowly segue back into my normal diet, reintroducing spicy or fatty/oily foods with caution.
I was explicitly instructed to stay away from dairy until I was better. I was also instructed to avoid carbonated drinks and citrus juices while I was feeling sick.
I sympathize with the original poster--as mentioned, I've been on the BRAT diet myself lately. Yes, it's boring and unappetizing. But it's likely only to last a few days (barring a more serious illness, knock wood), and honestly, if you've been sick enough to need the BRAT diet (vomiting, etc.), bland food seems like a minor complaint in the larger scheme of things.
Long story short--maybe try some jook, or foods in the BRAT family (saltines, as you mentioned), but I think people on the BRAT diet are mostly out of luck for a miracle food that is both interesting and tasty and easy to digest. The order of the day is mainly just to be patient and let your body recover.
Similar to some of the previous suggestions, when I'm in your situation I cook rice in chicken broth and a bit of soy, then when it's done I stir in a beaten egg (the heat of the rice cooks it), which binds it together and makes it creamy and a bit more satisfying than just plain rice. Hope you feel better soon!
If you cook rice in lots of chicken broth unitl it is very soft, then blend it a bit, you have "jook" -- a traditional Chinese soup often recommended as a hangover cure or illness treatment. We use brown rice and make it quite thin (lots of water) which is also a key (rehydrate yourself with lots of liquids). Brown rice jook needs to be blended (in a blender or use a "stick" blender).
You could use the Asian "sweet (or sticky) rice" for a more traditional jook. You can also get it as a take-out in some Chinese restaurants that have a Chinese clientele (din-dum places for example).
A bit of soy, hoisin, and/or Asian toasted sesame oil in the jook will make it tasty too.
You can also have clear liquids, which are actually the first step before the BRAT diet. These would include sprite or ginger ale (but not coke), herbal tea (nothing with caffeine), or jello. When you're ready to step it up to the next level of challenge, you could try a baked potato (no butter or sour cream).
A few words of caution: If your current GI problems are due to an infection, it's better not to take Imodium if you can help it. Imodium will relieve your symptoms, and if you're, say, stuck on a long car trip, you gotta do what you gotta do. But impairing your body's natural response of eliminating the offending organism can prolong the course of your illness. Plus, you can sometimes overshoot your goal with Imodium, if you know what I mean, and have more problems later. So, if you're a reasonably strong and otherwise healthy problem, it's best to avoid the Imodium and rehydrate yourself aggressively. And if you're not, you may want to go to an ER and tank up on IV fluids.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, after a GI infection, you can be somewhat lactose intolerant for weeks after you otherwise feel better. This may or may not happen to you, but don't be surprised if dairy products cause more problems than you were expecting.
I have a feeling this is going to get booted to "not about food" soon...
Noodles with a little butter and parmesan (not too much) is okay under the circumstances, in my experience. Also, combine the rice, broth, and chicken for a little soup - you can add soy sauce and hot sauce to season it. Jello's fine too, but who wants to eat that? Also, nonfat yogurt's usually okay, if it has live cultures; the bacteria are good for your digestive system, so it doesn't interfere with stopping the problem.
Found this post on a message forum:
This web site gives a more liberal view of the BRAT diet (they say you can have lean meat, fruit, and vegetables), but they caution this view is not universally accepted:
"The traditional BRAT diet--bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast--is tolerated by the tender gastrointestinal system, but it is not particularly nutritious. Many, but not all, medical researchers recommend a diet that includes complex carbohydrates (e.g., rice, wheat, potatoes, bread, and cereal), lean meats, yogurt, fruit, and vegetables. Milk and other dairy products shouldn't create problems if they are part of the normal diet. Fatty foods or foods with a lot of sugar should be avoided. These recommendations are based on clinical experience and controlled trials, but are not
So maybe rice and potatoes can be added, as well as yogurt? (Although would the bacterial cultures in yogurt defeat the purpose of the BRAT diet?) If it's supposed to be bland, not sure if fruits and veggies should be added.
I've included another link that talks about cooked cereals, pasta, rice, and fruit and vegetable juices...but no raw veggies. The link below says to avoid milk and cheese, so the first link's suggestion re: milk and other dairy products may not be valid.
I just know BRAT as bland and boring from childhood illnesses. Flat ginger ale was another drink that my mom would allow.
Sounds like you either pissed off Montezuma, or a case of the "Beaver Fever".
Only thing I would add is ginger ale and a lot of water.
Below is a link you may be interested in. To summarize:
The traditional BRAT diet--bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast--is tolerated by the tender gastrointestinal system, but it is not particularly nutritious. Many, but not all, medical researchers recommend a diet that includes complex carbohydrates (e.g., rice, wheat, potatoes, bread, and cereal), lean meats, yogurt, fruit, and vegetables. Milk and other dairy products shouldn't create problems if they are part of the normal diet. Fatty foods or foods with a lot of sugar should be avoided. These recommendations are
based on clinical experience and controlled trials, but are not universally accepted.