Treatments for certain medical conditions cause changes in bowel patterns, including frequent, formed bowel movements or diarrhea (frequent, watery bowel movements). These may be accompanied by abdominal cramping, increased gas, or mucous discharge from the rectum. Diarrhea causes food to pass quickly through the intestines, so water and nutrients are not adequately absorbed. If diarrhea is severe (more than three watery bowel movements a day) or persists for a long time, you may become dehydrated (lose too much water) and lose weight. Frequent formed bowel movements do not cause dehydration, but they can cause discomfort. This information describes a diet that is helpful in preventing or treating diarrhea and frequent formed bowel movements. It requires limiting or avoiding foods that may irritate the intestines, increase the bulk in your bowel movements, or increase the movement of food through the intestines.
- Drink plenty of liquids during the day (eight to ten 8-oz glasses)
- Avoid alcohol and liquids with caffeine since they can dehydrate you
- Drink small amounts (four ounces) at mealtime to avoid filling up on liquid
- Eat small amounts of food throughout the day rather than three large meals
- Snack midmorning, midafternoon, and in the evening
- Avoid swallowing air when you eat and drink by chewing with your mouth closed and not using a straw when you drink.
|HIGH FIBER FOODS – Fiber is the part of your food that does not get digested or absorbed and forms the bulk that makes your stool. You need to restrict fiber to treat or prevent diarrhea.||HIGH-FAT FOODS – Excessive fat can also contribute to diarrhea. You should limit the amount of butter, margarine, oil, and salad dressing you use.||FOODS AND LIQUIDS CONTAINING LACTOSE – Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. When your intestines are irritated, lactose may not be completely digested, resulting in gas, cramping, and diarrhea.||OTHER SUGGESTIONS – A number of other foods and liquids may irritate your intestines and cause diarrhea. We recommend that you avoid:|
|FOODS TO AVOID||FOODS TO AVOID:||FOODS TO AVOID:||FOODS TO AVOID:|
|Whole-grain breads and cereals||Fried foods||Milk (whole or skim)||Alcohol|
|Bran||Gravies||Cream, sour cream, and creamy cheeses||Pepper|
|Brown rice||Cream sauces||Processed cheese, Ice cream, sherbet||Spices|
|Raw vegetables, including lettuce, cooked vegetables that cause gas (e.g., onion, garlic, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli)||Luncheon meats||Soy sauce|
|Fresh and dried fruits Juice with pulp (e.g., prunes and oranges)||Sausages||Very hot beverages|
|Peas||All artificial sweeteners (Splenda, Equal, Sweet’N Low, aspartame, sorbitol, etc.)|
|Corn and popcorn|
The following list of foods can take the place of the foods we have suggested you avoid:
|PROTEIN:||VEGETABLES:||FRUITS AND JUICES:||BREAD, CEREALS, AND GRAINS:||DAIRY:|
|Tender meats (with the fat trimmed)||Cooked squash, peeled eggplant, carrots, asparagus, mushrooms, green and wax beans Potato without the skin||Bananas||White and Italian bread, rolls, plain bagels, English muffins, Saltines, graham crackers||Lactose-free milk|
|baked or broiled Poultry (with the skin removed)||Tomato juice and puree (with pieces of tomato removed)||Applesauce||Cold cereals (corn flakes, corn Chex, puffed rice, rice Chex, Rice Krispies)||Lactose-free cottage cheese or ice cream|
|Fish (water-packed if it is canned)||Vegetable juice||Cooked or canned fruits with the skin and seeds removed (e.g., apples, peaches, apricots, plums, pears, pineapple, fruit cocktail)||Hot cereals (Cream of Rice, Farina, Cream of Wheat)||Yogurt|
|Eggs||Strained cranberry sauce||White rice||Sorbet|
|Tofu (wrapped only)||Fruit juices and nectars without pulp (e.g., apple, grape, cranberry)||Spaghetti, noodles|
|Smooth peanut butter|
If you change your diet and still have more than three loose, watery bowel movements in a day, let your doctor know; medication may be prescribed. If your diarrhea is severe, you should:
- Eliminate all fruits (except bananas and applesauce) and vegetables from your diet
- Drink increased amounts of fluid, especially broth and Gatorade
There are many factors that can contribute to a sensitive stomach. We have pinpointed foods that worsen symptoms and should be avoided. In addition to diet changes, certain supplements can be taken to improve symptoms.
We recommend that you review these guidelines and talk with your doctor and/or a dietitian about how you can individualize them to meet your own needs. Some people will only need to limit certain foods, whereas others may require a very restricted diet. Also, if you are on a special diet, it may be difficult for you to follow these guidelines and still be sure you are getting adequate nutrition. Clinical dietitians are available to counsel you about your diet. If you would let to meet with a dietitian, please let your doctor or nurse know. We hope these guidelines are helpful to you.