What Is The BRAT Diet?

By:    Published: October 19, 2012

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Unless you are constantly suffering from gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, indigestion or gastroenteritis, you might not have heard of the BRAT diet. No, this isn't a type of diet that is geared towards helping you lose weight, nor is it a type of crash diet. It is a simple diet of bland foods that are easy for the body to process. The BRAT diet is an acronym that stands for:

Alternate forms of the diet might include tea and yogurt, forming the BRATTY diet. The BRAT was commonly prescribed to anyone dealing with gastrointestinal issues because of its low fiber content.

How Does the BRAT Diet Work?

The most common use for the BRAT diet is when a person is suffering from diarrhea. Because of the issues with bowel movements associated with diarrhea, the BRAT diet can help appease associated symptoms while replacing any nutrients lost due to diarrhea and even vomiting. The BRAT diet is meant to be used while the patient is still suffering gastrointestinal problems, and allows people to ease back into their regular diet once their stomach issues have subsided.

Are There Any Other Foods A Person Can Eat?

While the BRAT diet is recommended for those suffering from gastrointestinal problems, other types of bland food can also be substituted for relief. Some alternate foods include:

  • Low sodium crackers
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Light vegetable soups
  • Honey (as a spread for the toast)
  • Pasta and light tomato sauce
  • Light chicken broth

The key is to avoid foods that are difficult for your body to digest and breakdown. When dealing with a gastrointestinal problem, like diarrhea, stick with bland, simple foods that are easier to process. Foods high in complex sugars like fructose, sorbitol or raffinose should be avoided.

An alternative to the BRAT diet is the CRAM diet, which stands for:

  • Cereal
  • Rice
  • Apple sauce
  • Milk

The CRAM diet is said to have more beneficial nutrients than the BRAT diet because of the addition of milk.

What Foods Should I Avoid?

There are certain foods that create all kinds of issues for those dealing with gastrointestinal problems. When you're feeling sick or have a stomach ache, you don't want to ingest anything that would only make your conditions worse. Here is a list of foods you should avoid:

  • Carbonated soft drinks
  • Sugary drinks, including fruit juices
  • Chewing gum, since it can cause gas and bloating
  • Fatty, fried, greasy foods
  • Raw vegetables, fruits and nuts
  • Alcohol, which can irritate your digestive system
  • Dairy products, mainly if you suffer from lactose intolerance

Not all people react the same way to these particular foods. If you come across a type of food that upsets your stomach, or makes your gastrointestinal issues worse, avoid eating it.

Is the BRAT Diet Meant for Kids or Adults?

Some nutritionists and other healthcare professionals have argued whether the BRAT diet is beneficial for a child suffering from gastrointestinal issues. The dietary needs between an adult and a child differ, and children may not be getting the necessary nutrients from the BRAT diet. For one thing, there is very minimal protein and iron included in the BRAT diet. It appears that more and more professionals in the nutrition and healthcare fields are recommending that children should not be subjected to the BRAT diet, or that it should only be supplemented to their regular diet. However, they do recommend avoiding certain foods that can make gastrointestinal problems worse.

The Bottom Line

A diet restricted only to bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast does not seem very nutritional, but is a safe way to avoid any further problems with an upset stomach. While adults can use the BRAT diet without suffering the same nutrient deprivation the way a child might, its usage is starting to decrease. Those suffering from gastrointestinal issues can use the BRAT diet for a short duration, which is basically until they are ready to switch back to a normal diet.

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