Typical food poisoning cases involve vomiting and diarrhea so your main objective is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost. Get plenty of electrolytes, especially important for children, such as the electrolyte beverages sold at drugstores or a sports drink with electrolytes. Don’t start on solid foods until vomiting has passed.
Test Your Body’s Tolerance
When experiencing nausea and vomiting, often even a glass of water won’t stay down. The professionals at Indiana University’s Bloomington Health Center suggest that before you start eating or drinking again, slowly introduce liquids.
First attempt to hold down one tablespoon of water. If after 30 minutes you experience no vomiting or diarrhea, take two tablespoons. As long as symptoms have subsided, continue increasing your intake every 30 minutes for the next three hours. If all goes well, begin clear liquids.
Start with Clear Liquids
Once vomiting has passed, it is important that you rehydrate. Vomiting and diarrhea can deplete your body of nutrients and electrolytes causing dehydration, which interferes with normal body functioning. In severe cases, dehydration can cause your kidneys to shut down. Take these steps to rehydrate. You need to drink 8-10 glasses of water or other clear liquids per day.
- Drink fluids with electrolytes such as those sold commercially or sports drinks containing electrolytes.
- Eat watery foods such as popsicles, Jello®, or broth
Though it is important to rehydrate your body and stay hydrated, liquids help to move food through your digestive system more quickly. To help with diarrhea, drink liquids one hour before or after a meal.
Slowly Introduce Solid Foods
Once you have held down clear liquids, you can begin adding solid foods. Keep the foods bland and test them slowly to make sure they will be tolerated. Rather than sitting down to your regular meals, eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day. The following are usually well tolerated.
- Boiled Potatoes
- Canned Fruit
- Plain Baked Chicken/no skin
- Plain Rice
Eat Foods High in Soluble Fiber
Following a bout with diarrhea, soluble fiber can help get your digestive system back on track.
It is important to note the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber. Both are important to proper bowel function, but each play a different role. Soluble fiber absorbs excess fluid in the intestinal track to help bulk up stools. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in the digestive track and helps to push waste through the digestive tract. Insoluble fiber helps with constipation and can actually make diarrhea worse.
Bland, foods high in soluble fiber include:
- High fiber bread
- Oat bran
- Brown rice
The ideal amount of fiber to regulate your digestive system is 25-35 grams per day. If your current diet falls far below that level, add fiber to your diet slowly as it can cause bloating, gas, and even diarrhea if introduced to the system too quickly.
Studies are emerging that point to probiotics as beneficial for helping with bouts of diarrhea. Probiotics are organisms or bacteria that when introduced to the body can help to replace those beneficial bacteria lost through sickness.
Eating yogurt with live bacterial cultures may help you recover from diarrhea more quickly.
Foods to Avoid
While you are still experiencing vomiting and diarrhea, you should avoid solid food, which likely will not stay down. Don’t drink milk or milk products as dairy can exacerbate diarrhea. You want to avoid anything that will exacerbate diarrhea or further upset your stomach. These foods include:
- Greasy foods.
- Avoid beverages with caffeine and alcohol as both add to dehydrate the body.
- Following sickness, many people are temporarily lactose intolerant so it’s best to avoid dairy products.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables, which contain insoluble fiber and can exacerbate diarrhea.
- Spicy foods, which can irritate the stomach.
Watch for Signs of Dehydration
Dehydration can be dangerous and even fatal. Food poisoning that includes vomiting and diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration if the fluids lost are not replaced. You may be experiencing dehydration if you feel light-headed and dizzy, have no tears when crying, experience dry sticky mouth, don’t need to urinate, or are very lethargic. If you think you are dehydrated and unable to keep fluids down contact your health care provider. You may need to get your fluids intravenously.
“What to Drink and Eat After Vomiting: IU Health Center.” Indiana University-Bloomington Health Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014. <http://healthcenter.indiana.edu/answers/vomiting.shtml>.
“Preventing Dehydration When You Have Diarrhea or Vomiting.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014. <http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/diarrhea-10/prevent-dehydration>.
“Diarrhea.” National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014. <http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/diarrhea/>.
“Dietary Fiber: Insoluble and Soluble Fiber.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014. <http://www.webmd.com/diet/fiber-health-benefits-11/insoluble-soluble-fiber>.
“High Fiber Diet.” University of Michigan Health System. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014. <http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/MBCP/HighFiberDiet.pdf>.
“Probiotics for Diarrhea: Types, Uses, Side Effects, Benefits.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014. <http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/probiotics-diarrhea>.