What should be eaten after a bout of stomach flu is important as diet plays a vital role in recovery. Stomach flu or gastroenteritis is caused by various viruses which enter the gastrointestinal tract and settle in the stomach and intestine. They incubate and multiply in these organs and the symptoms are manifested after a few hours or even a few days.
When a person is infected by the stomach flu virus, symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and aches, low grade fever, chills, fatigue and headaches are manifested. Initially, the patient will not be able to retain any food or fluids, due to the vomiting and diarrhea. At this stage a few sips of water at regular intervals and sucking on some ice chips would be soothing. Too much water would lead to further vomiting and should be avoided.
What to avoid
It is important to know the foods which should be avoided when suffering from stomach flu. Alcoholic drinks, caffeine, carbonated drinks, citrus fruit juices, oily and spicy food should be totally avoided.
During the course of stomach flu plenty of fluids should be given to keep the patient hydrated. Warm and weak herbal tea with chamomile, peppermint or mint leaves, would help soothe the stomach. Freshly squeezed carrot juice could be had in small quantities through the day to ease the stomach ache.
Another soothing food for the stomach is yogurt. It contains helpful bacteria which is beneficial for the stomach. Homemade yoghurt without sweeteners and preservatives is the most suitable. The live substances in yogurt help create more white blood cells, which fight infection. Yogurt is said to heal the linings of the intestine.
Stomach disorders can be soothed with cranberry juice and grape seed extracts. Vegetable juices can also be given when the stomach is tender after an attack of gastroenteritis.
Once the patient has overcome the diarrhea and vomiting, light, clear soups or broths could be given to replenish the nutritional requirements. These should be preferably homemade as it would be devoid of any cornstarch or preservatives. Tomatoes should be avoided as these could be acidic and aggravate the stomach lining. A broth made of boiled vegetables would be ideal. It should be strained to remove fibre and seeds as this could be difficult to digest.
Once the patient is able to retain some food, a light, bland diet could be given. The BRAT diet comprising of bananas, rice, apples and toast is quite popular. Apples can be had in the form of apple sauce. Rice can be had with soup or even yogurt. Toast is always easier to digest than fresh white bread. Instead of toast the patient can also be given plain crackers.
If the patient is able to retain this food, some more solid food can be introduced to his diet. Sliced boiled or mashed potatoes, without butter and cream would help “bind” the stomach. Plain chicken breast (skinless) would also be nutritious. It should be cooked without fat and spice. Red meat would be difficult to digest and should be completely avoided.
A light chicken noodle soup or a chicken rice soup would be nutritious and easy to digest. It would add both liquids and solids in one meal. Light, skinless fish cooked without any spices or sauces, could be added to the diet once the patient is able to retain food and is on the way to recovery.
A small helping of non-citrus fresh fruit would be beneficial. Peaches, apples and bananas can be added to the diet of a person recovering from stomach flu.
What a person eats after an attack of stomach flu, should be nutritious, bland and devoid of spices and fat.