When you have an upset stomach, food is the last thing on your mind. Because you fear making your condition worse, you may avoid it altogether. The problem is – you cannot stay without food for long, especially when you are sick. Rather than stick to your regular diet that may make your symptoms worse, find out which foods are easy to digest.
The easiest foods to digest when your stomach is not okay are bland and low in fat and fiber. Knowing what is causing your upset stomach may help you make the right food choices. However, even when you do not know what is ailing you, there are still some safe options.
Easiest Foods To Digest When You Have A Stomach Ache
When you have a health condition that makes certain foods difficult to digest, you may end up in pain because of eating the wrong thing. A stomach upset may present symptoms such as:
- Acid reflux
- Abdominal pain
To avoid these symptoms, stick to easy-to-digest foods. Such foods put less strain on your gastrointestinal tract. Rather than make your colon work overtime to process fatty, fibrous food, eating easy-to-digest foods is advisable. In general, low-fat and low-fiber foods are desirable.
Whether a particular food is right for your stomach depends on the cause of discomfort. Some foods may ease symptoms of indigestion but worsen those caused by irritable bowel syndrome. So, it is essential to investigate and find the cause for your upset stomach.
Bananas are tasty and readily available fruits. They contain water and fiber, both of which are essential for the digestive system. They also contain carbohydrates and potassium. As part of the BRAT diet, bananas replace nutrients lost during severe diarrhea (3). Because they do not require any cooking or preparation, you might prefer them when you feel too sick to cook.
Bananas are ideal for constipation and diarrhea because they replace lost potassium and fluids. However, people with diabetes should be careful when consuming it. Very ripe bananas have high sugar content. People on a diabetes meal plan should account for the sugar in their daily intake.
People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may not benefit from taking this fruit. Bananas may trigger bloating and cramping (3).
Rice is the second component of the BRAT diet for diarrhea. It is preferable because of its bland taste. White rice is easier to digest than brown rice; the latter has high fiber content. The refining process strips white rice of the bran and germ, making it a simple carb that your digestive system breaks down fast.
You may worry about the low nutritional value of white rice. However, enriched white rice has added vitamins that make it more nutritious. If you are having trouble digesting food, it is best to cook white rice without oil and other toppings.
White rice alleviates symptoms of diarrhea by firming up stools. However, it may worsen constipation because of its low fiber content. When you have a stomach ache, eat plain white rice without any toppings or flavorful sides that may worsen your symptoms.
Applesauce is a staple of the BRAT diet because it contains pectin, which is essential for a healthy gut (2). Although apples are high in fiber, they are less taxing on your digestive system when stewed. Cooking methods break down nutrients and enzymes that would have been hard on your gut. It also reduces the fiber content.
Because most foods recommended for an upset stomach are bland and have low nutritional value, applesauce is a great choice. It is flavorful and packed with nutrients and antioxidants. However, people with diabetes on a low sugar diet have to consider the high sugar content. Besides, the fermentable carbohydrates in this food may worsen IBS symptoms.
Toasted bread is last, but not least, in the list of foods easiest to digest for people following the BRAT diet. Choose white bread because it is low in fiber and easy on your gut. The toasting process further breaks down the carbohydrates, easing digestion.
Toast relieves nausea and heartburn. Steer clear of fatty, creamy spreads such as butter and nut butter. You may use fruit jellies in moderation since they add flavor without making toast difficult to digest. If you have a gluten intolerance, choose gluten-free bread to avoid further discomfort.
A saltine cracker is not only an easy-to-digest food but also great for nausea. Because it is bland, you do not have to contend with strong smells or tastes that may trigger your upset stomach. The high starch content helps absorb stomach acids that may be causing discomfort.
If you are at risk of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, you should consider the high sodium content in saltine crackers. Additionally, this food has gluten that may trigger symptoms in people who have IBS.
Chicken is a low-fiber, high protein, easy-to-digest food that is ideal for an upset stomach. A hot broth is hearty, healthy, and filling. It is also comforting when you are in pain. Moreover, it is packed with vitamins and minerals, making it one of the most nutritious foods that are easiest to digest.
If you are feeling too queasy to eat chicken, sipping on broth can be helpful. Chicken bones and vegetables stewed for hours make a broth that is just as nutritious as the meat. The combination of water and salt can rehydrate you without making you nauseous.
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Boiling beef or fish bones for hours produces bone broth that has various benefits for your gut. The nutrients in bone broth balance gut bacteria and maintain a healthy intestinal lining. They also have a soothing effect on inflammation in the stomach (5).
The process of cooking bone broth releases minerals in a form that your body can absorb quickly. This food also contains broken down nutrients from the cartilage and tendons. It is important. Gelatin and collagen are two components of bone broth essential for resolving digestive issues (5).
Bone broth is often flavored with a mixture of vegetables, herbs, and spices. However, when you have an upset stomach, you should leave out the spices. Choose carefully which herbs to include as some may worsen your symptoms.
Oatmeal is a less processed alternative to crackers and bread. It is gluten-free and a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Choose instant oats because they are thinner and easier to digest than rolled oats. The cooking process further breaks down most nutrients, starting the digestion process before you eat.
Oatmeal is often topped with peanut butter and other flavorful condiments. However, when your gut is irritated, you may want to steer clear of toppings. The fat content may make it harder for your stomach to digest the meal.
Eggs are a good source of proteins, minerals, and healthy fats. They are among the easiest to digest high calorie foods that are gentle on your gut. You may eat eggs in any form, provided you do not add oil that will irritate your stomach further. Boiled, poached, and scrambled eggs are an excellent food option even for people who suffer from IBS.
Yogurt eases stomach discomfort due to its soothing and refreshing consistency. It is known to reduce bloating related to IBS (7). For yogurt to benefit your digestive system, you must consume the kind that contains live, active culture. Pasteurized yogurt tends to lack beneficial bacteria.
Not all beneficial bacteria have the same effects. Specific strains are more effective on certain disorders than others (7). It might take some research to find which one works for you. Reading labels before a purchase can help determine whether the yogurt contains bacterial cultures beneficial for your condition.
Melons are beneficial for soothing an upset stomach because of their high water content. Staying hydrated helps digestion, and so does the non-fibrous nature of these fruits. Their refreshing taste might help get rid of the aftertaste when you have vomited. If you have been wondering what the easiest vitamin c foods to digest are, consider melons. They are best eaten ripe and seedless.
Pumpkin is a nutritious, high-fiber fruit that may be beneficial depending on the reason for your stomach upset. It is an excellent base for stews and soups. Because it is very flavorful, you may not need to add spices that irritate your stomach. If you are experiencing diarrhea, pumpkin may firm your stools and slow down the rate at which your food passes through the digestive system.
Plain, boiled potatoes are a bland starch that may be easy to keep down when you feel nauseous. Like bananas, they replace potassium lost through vomiting. You may mash your potatoes, but avoid adding butter which may make the meal harder to digest. Fried potatoes are not acceptable when you have a stomach upset; they are more taxing on your digestive tract.
Sweet potatoes have soluble fiber, which is easier to digest than insoluble fiber. They also have potassium that needs to be replenished when you have a stomach ache. Sweet potatoes are more flavorful than Irish potatoes. It makes them preferable for people who find Irish potatoes too bland. However, people with IBS should moderate their consumption of this food as it may cause flare-ups.
Gelatin can be high protein food that can keep the stomach lining healthy. It contains glutamic acid, which maintains the integrity of mucosal linings (1). Gelatin binds to water, making it a great source of hydration when you have a stomach upset. Moreover, this food stimulates the production of gastric juices, which can be beneficial for digestion.
Foods To Avoid When You Have An Upset Stomach
Knowing which foods are the easiest to digest is one thing; knowing which ones can wreak havoc to your aching stomach is another. Here are some foods that you should avoid when you are having a hard time keeping anything down:
- Citrus fruits
- Fried foods
- Spicy foods
- Raw, fibrous fruits and vegetables
Find Out What Is Causing Your Symptoms
The effect that food may have on your stomach varies depending on the cause of your discomfort. Therefore, it is a good idea to find out what is causing your stomach upset. You may keep a food journal that tracks your meals and symptoms. Digestive problems can arise from various conditions, including (2):
- Gastrointestinal infections
- Sensitivities to certain foods
- Chronic health conditions such as IBS and GERD
If your stomach ache persists after a week despite eating easy-to-digest foods, it is advisable to see a doctor. The same advice applies if your symptoms disappear and return after a while. There might be an underlying health issue that needs medical attention.
The Bottom Line
The easiest foods to digest are bland, low-fiber, and low-fat varieties. Some foods may alleviate symptoms of one condition and worsen symptoms for another. Knowing the cause of your discomfort helps identify which foods work for you. To do so, you may keep a food journal. If your pain persists, seek medical attention and talk with a doctor or a dietitian.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 10 health benefits of gelatin (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- 11 foods that are easy to digest (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Benefits and health risks of bananas (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Effect of a fermented milk containing Bifidobacterium animalis DN-173 010 on the health-related quality of life and symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome in adults in primary care: a multicentre, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial (2007, pubmed.gov)
- Gut Healing Bone Broth Recipe (2019, parsleyhealth.com)
- The 14 foods to eat when you have a stomachache (2017, businessinsider.com)
- Your complete guide to choosing a yogurt to meet your needs (2020, harvard.edu)