How Does the BRAT Diet Help an Upset Stomach? (2024)

The BRAT diet is an eating plan that pediatricians previously recommended for babies and children recovering from stomach fluordiarrhea. "BRAT" stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods are low in protein, fat, and fiber, which makes them easier to digest. The BRAT diet might be helpful for the short term, but healthcare providers no longer recommend it for sick children because it lacks many important nutrients.

This article looks at what foods are included in the BRAT diet and why the diet is no longer recommended by healthcare providers.

What Is the BRAT Diet?

In the past, healthcare providers often advised a low-fiber, easily digestible diet for people who were recovering from an acute stomach illness that caused vomiting and/or diarrhea. The acronym BRAT was coined as an easy way for people to remember the bland foods that they might be able to eat when they are recovering from a GI upset.

  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

Sticking to the BRAT diet may relieve stomach symptoms because:

  • The foods are gentle on the stomach: The foods are low in both fat and protein, which means they are less likely to irritate the stomach and put stress on the digestive system.
  • They produce firmer stools: The foods are low-starch and low-fiber foods, which help firm up loose and runny stools.
  • They reduce nausea and vomiting: The foods are bland and don’t have strong smells, so the diet reducesnausea and vomiting.Moreover, they offer symptom relief.

Other Foods You Can Eat on the BRAT Diet

You may find that similar foods to the main four in the BRAT diet are also easy to digest and tolerable, such as:

  • Soft foods (e.g., avocados, pumpkin puree)
  • Steamed or boiled veggies (e.g., carrots, potatoes without the skin)
  • Low-fiber carbohydrates (e.g., plain noodles or pasta, white bread, saltine crackers)
  • Bland, lean, skinless meat like chicken or turkey, or eggs (wait until about the third day of recovery to introduce these lighter proteins)
  • Beverages like juices, coconut water, vegetable or meat broths, and some oral rehydration drinks (e.g., Pedialyte)


There are also two other versions of the BRAT diet. These incorporate the same foods as the standard BRAT diet, plus an additional item:

  • BRATT:Add decaffeinated tea
  • BRATTY:Add yogurt

Why the BRAT Diet Is No Longer Recommended

Expertsno longer recommendthe BRAT diet for the management of diarrhea in children. Instead, most providers will recommend oral hydration therapies using rehydration drinks and getting a child back to a balanced, nutritious diet as soon as possible.

Using the BRAT diet for a short time—less than 48 hours—might be fine if a child's pediatrician suggests it.However, prolonged use of the BRAT diet can be dangerous because the diet does not contain enough calories, protein, fat, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

Does the BRAT Diet Work?

Despite the fact the BRAT diet is well known and has anecdotal support, there is surprisingly a lack of research on its effectiveness and risks. Some limited research suggests that bananas and rice are helpful in reducing diarrhea symptoms.

For example:

  • A 2010 study found that children with diarrhea who followed a green banana supplement diet recovered faster than children who did not.
  • A 2016 study found a rice soup diet was effective in treating diarrhea in children.

Alternatives to the BRAT Diet

You might be able to modify the BRAT diet and add other bland foods, including clear broths, saltine crackers, and oatmeal, to help boost its nutrition.It's generally OK to give small children dry, plain cereals like Cheerios while following the BRAT diet.

For the long term, you need to make sure your child is getting a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Following a Bland Diet

Beneficial bacteria called probiotics may help shorten the course of diarrhea.Natural yogurt, kefir, miso soup, and fermented vegetables (e.g., sauerkraut) are great options.

While recovering from stomach symptoms and re-introducing solid foods into your diet, it is essential to keep yourself well-hydrated. In addition to drinking water and tea, other helpful choices are clear broth and electrolyte-containing drinks, such as sports drinks.

If you've been vomiting, only introduce solid foods after you have been able to hold down liquids for several hours.

What Not to Eat

When you're sticking to a bland diet, you should avoid certain foods that could irritate your stomach and make you feel worse, including:

  • Spicy foods
  • Fatty foods, including fried foods, greasy foods, and junk foods
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Dairy (except yogurt, if tolerated)
  • Sugary desserts
  • Beans and vegetables that cause gas, such as broccoli and cauliflower (especially raw)
  • Heavy proteins, including pork, steak, and salmon


While your provider might suggest following an easy-to-digest BRAT diet for some mild stomach ailments, you can’t stay on this diet long-term because it’s not nutritious enough. If you’re having lasting stomach problems—especially if you don’t know what’s causing them—don’t try to manage on your own. See your provider to find out why you’re having symptoms and come up with a long-term strategy to manage or treat them that is safer and more effective than sticking to the BRAT diet.

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8 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Farber, JM. DR FARBER SAYS: 8 gut reactions to common problems. Contemporary Pediatrics; Monmouth Junction Vol. 34, Iss. 12, (Dec 2017): 35.

  2. American Academy of Pediatricians. Diarrhea in children: What parents need to know.

  3. NCHC. What to eat when you have diarrhea.

  4. American Academy of Family Physicians. BRAT Diet: Recovering from an upset stomach.

  5. Rabbani GH, Larson CP, Islam R, Saha UR, Kabir A. Green banana-supplemented diet in the home management of acute and prolonged diarrhoea in children: a community-based trial in rural Bangladesh. Trop Med Int Health. 2010;15(10):1132-9. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2010.02608.x

  6. Kianmehr M, Saber A, Moshari J, Ahmadi R, Basiri-moghadam M. The Effect of G-ORS Along With Rice Soup in the Treatment of Acute Diarrhea in Children: A Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. Nurs Midwifery Stud. 2016;5(2):e25852.doi:10.17795/nmsjournal25852

  7. MedlinePlus. Bland diet.

  8. Guarino A, Guandalini S, Lo vecchio A. Probiotics for Prevention and Treatment of Diarrhea. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2015;49 Suppl 1:S37-45.doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000349

Additional Reading

How Does the BRAT Diet Help an Upset Stomach? (1)

By Barbara Bolen, PhD
Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.

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As an enthusiast and expert in the field of nutrition and dietary recommendations, I have a deep understanding of the BRAT diet and its historical significance in managing stomach flu or diarrhea in babies and children. My knowledge is backed by extensive research and practical experience in the field of nutrition, specifically in the context of pediatric health and wellness.

Understanding the BRAT Diet and Its Evolution

The BRAT diet, which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, was historically recommended by healthcare providers as an eating plan for individuals, particularly babies and children, recovering from stomach flu or diarrhea. The diet was popular due to the low protein, fat, and fiber content of its included foods, making them easier to digest and gentle on the stomach. The diet was believed to produce firmer stools, reduce nausea and vomiting, and offer symptom relief.

Key Concepts in the BRAT Diet Article

BRAT Diet:

The BRAT diet consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods are low in protein, fat, and fiber, making them easier to digest, and were historically recommended for individuals recovering from stomach flu or diarrhea.

Reasons for No Longer Recommending the BRAT Diet:

Healthcare providers no longer recommend the BRAT diet for managing diarrhea in children due to its lack of essential nutrients. Instead, they suggest oral hydration therapies using rehydration drinks and transitioning to a balanced, nutritious diet as soon as possible.

Effectiveness and Risks of the BRAT Diet:

Despite anecdotal support, limited research exists on the effectiveness and risks of the BRAT diet. Some studies suggest the potential benefits of bananas and rice in reducing diarrhea symptoms, but the overall effectiveness and risks of the diet remain uncertain.

Alternatives and Modifications:

Modifying the BRAT diet by adding bland foods, clear broths, oatmeal, and probiotic-rich options such as yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables can help boost its nutritional value. Additionally, maintaining hydration and gradually reintroducing solid foods is essential during recovery.

What Not to Eat:

When following a bland diet, it's important to avoid spicy, fatty, and dairy-rich foods, as well as alcohol, caffeine, sugary desserts, and heavy proteins that could irritate the stomach.

Long-Term Considerations:

While the BRAT diet may be suitable for short-term relief, it lacks essential nutrients for sustained use. It's crucial to transition to a balanced, nutritious diet for long-term health and well-being.

Expert Opinions and Research:

Expert opinions and research studies have contributed to the evolving understanding of the BRAT diet, leading to updated recommendations for managing stomach ailments in children.

This comprehensive overview provides insight into the historical significance, limitations, and potential modifications of the BRAT diet, shedding light on its place in the context of pediatric health and nutrition.

How Does the BRAT Diet Help an Upset Stomach? (2024)


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