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BRAT Diet 2023: Benefits, Food List, Tips To Follow & More

Cassi Donegan

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

brat diet

Many diets have become popular to help people lose weight. However, the BRAT diet became well known for assisting gut health for those with upset stomachs who couldn’t handle a regular diet.

When experiencing viruses, irritable bowel syndrome, or other stomach illnesses, your digestive system may need a bland diet that is more gentle on the stomach, making it easy to digest foods and recover. Eating bland, low-fiber foods like bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast can help ease symptoms. 

Certain foods, like fried foods, can trigger nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in those with a stomach illness or even worsen symptoms. This is where the BRAT diet for adults and children can come in handy since it can ease the stomach and bowels and allow them to rest. 

This article will review what the BRAT diet is, its benefits, what foods to eat and which to avoid, and diet alternatives.

What Is The BRAT Diet?

The BRAT diet has been around since the 1920s. It was common to hear healthcare providers recommend the BRAT diet for toddlers and infants experiencing vomiting and diarrhea to ease their digestive tract, reduce stool output, and help them feel better faster. 

The BRAT diet consists of four main foods: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, hence the acronym BRAT. These foods help to help treat symptoms of stomach illness or when someone has trouble digesting a normal diet. These foods are considered to be 

  • Soft
  • Gentle
  • Bland
  • Low-fat
  • Low-fiber 

This diet was a common suggestion throughout the 1900s, especially for children. Though, these four foods by themselves tend to be restrictive in protein, healthy fats, and other essential nutrients compared to a well-balanced diet, it’s important to incorporate other foods as soon as you’re able to.

Because this diet is low in fat, fiber, and protein, it is easier for the digestive system to process. It discourages loose stools, and since it uses bland foods that don’t have strong smells, it may be less likely to trigger nausea and vomiting in some people.

Benefits Of The BRAT Diet

While there are not many peer-reviewed studies on the BRAT diet, there are a couple of individual food studies that help support the idea of the diet treating diarrhea in children. It’s usually beneficial to treat excessive diarrhea, especially in children, since this can lead to rectal pain, dehydration, and severe malnutrition. 

In a 2016 study[1], rice soup, along with an oral rehydration solution, was a successful and inexpensive oral rehydration technique to treat acute diarrhea in children. 

Another study involving almost 3,000 children with diarrhea ages 6-36 months shows that eating cooked green bananas[2] can significantly improve their recovery rate. 

  • Eating bland foods, like the ones in the BRAT diet, helps with managing diarrhea by promoting a less acidic environment[3] while producing fewer and firmer stools. These foods can also help with recovering from food poisoning. 
  • Bland foods are easy to break down, so you can digest essential nutrients without causing unnecessary stress on your stomach. A BRAT diet for diarrhea is beneficial after a stomach bug or intestinal inflammation flare-up since it allows your gastrointestinal tract (GI) to recover after loose and runny stools.
  • A BRAT diet for the stomach flu, gastritis, and other inflammatory health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, stomach ulcers, and reflux disease can benefit from the banana’s[4] anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • A BRAT diet for nausea may or may not help the issue. It can reduce triggers for nausea like strong-smelling foods and unhealthy fats, but depending on what the sickness is caused by determines if changing to a BRATdiet will help. 
  • If you’re considering using a BRAT diet for pregnancy, it can help you to feel better when dealing with morning sickness or an upset stomach that can come from changing hormones. However, remember to include your usual healthy foods in your daily meal plan and to continue with your prenatal vitamin as the BRAT diet is so low in nutrients.

This diet is no longer recommended for long-term treatment since it is missing vital nutrients for a balanced diet. So, a lengthy BRAT diet for weight loss might hurt more than help, especially with its low-fiber, high-carbohydrate, and low-protein count. 

BRAT Diet Foods List

Foods To Eat

The BRAT diet does focus on bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast as the main bland foods for consumption. You can also add other bland foods that are nutrient-dense[5] to help refuel you during times of stomach problems, like

  • Bone broth
  • Avocados
  • Potatoes
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Bland steamed or soft vegetables
  • White meat chicken fruits
  • Low-acid fruits 


If you’re actively vomiting or treating diarrhea, hydration is essential. Oral rehydration therapy is critical to prioritize so you can avoid worsening stomach symptoms and headaches. 

When you’re having stomach problems, it’s essential to use clear liquids, including water, ice chips, healthy herbal teas, and no-sugar-added apple juice. In addition, you can help maintain your electrolyte balance with coconut water, waters with vitamins, and sugar-free, dye-free sports drinks.

Foods To Avoid

Some foods will irritate your gut, promote inflammation, and may cause acute diarrhea that you’ll want to avoid while you’re recovering from stomach issues. 

Avoid fried and greasy foods like fast food french fries, burgers, and fried rice. It will help to postpone eating vegetables that can be hard on degradation and cause gas like beans and cabbage. Also, avoid[5]

  • Spicy foods
  • Fatty foods
  • Dairy products
  • Sugar
  • Food allergens
  • Unhealthy oils and trans fats
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Sodas
  • Raw or uncooked foods
  • Citrus Fruits

How To Follow The BRAT Diet

If you choose to follow the BRAT diet, you’ll need to stick to bland and soft foods like bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. After vomiting, try waiting until you can hold down clear liquids for a while before adding these soft foods to help prevent further GI upset.  

Eat smaller meals to help reduce stomach issues. Eating and chewing slowly helps set your stomach up for easier digestion. 

As you add back in liquids and solid foods after a stomach upset, you must listen to your body’s response to the item so you can identify any triggering foods or drinks. If a stomach bug is the cause of the upset stomach, you may experience an upset stomach no matter what you eat. 

But, if it’s something like irritable bowel syndrome or diverticulitis, you may be able to tell after consuming a specific food item that it’s the culprit to your symptoms, and you should intentionally avoid consuming it. 

Eating only those foods included in the BRAT diet for too long, although rare, may result in nutritional deficiencies, so this should be a temporary diet.

You can find bland food and BRAT diet recipes found online to help guide you on ways to incorporate this diet into your day in various ways.  

Alternatives To The BRAT Diet 

While you can temporarily rely on the BRAT diet by itself, there are other nutrient-dense foods you can also try as either an alternative to the BRAT diet or in addition to the diet 

  • There are two other BRAT diets that add other foods. One that adds decaffeinated tea is called BRATT, and another that adds decaf tea and yogurt is called BRATTY. 
  • Eating fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut, has beneficial bacteria that can help speed up recovery and reduce the amount of time the symptoms last. 
  • Ginger can be helpful as a supplement and essential oil, which can help to reduce nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea[6]
  • Bone broth is a gut-healing oral rehydration liquid that is easy to digest and beneficial to the digestive system. 
  • Coconut water is one of the best ways to rehydrate and restore electrolyte balance after stomach problems.

Conclusion: Is The BRAT Diet Effective?

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The stomach flu and other stomach issues can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Eating the BRAT diet with bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast can help provide relief. 

Following this bland, low-fiber food diet while eliminating fatty, fried, and spicy foods can speed up recovery from these symptoms for adults, children, and pregnant women. 

While the four foods of the BRAT diet can help you feel better, eating other bland foods along with these can help provide important nutrients like protein and healthy fats that are important if you need a long-term diet. 

Suppose your diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting last for more than a couple of days for unknown reasons. In that case, you may want to contact your healthcare provider to ensure you’re doing everything possible to prevent dehydration and get healthy.

+ 6 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Kianmehr, M., Saber, A., Moshari, J., Ahmadi, R. and Basiri-moghadam, M. (2016). The Effect of G-ORS Along With Rice Soup in the Treatment of Acute Diarrhea in Children: A Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. Nursing and Midwifery Studies, [online] 5(2). doi:10.17795/nmsjournal25852.
  2. Rabbani, G.H., Larson, C.P., Islam, R., Saha, U.R. and Kabir, A. (2010). Green banana-supplemented diet in the home management of acute and prolonged diarrhoea in children: a community-based trial in rural Bangladesh. Tropical Medicine & International Health, [online] 15(10), pp.1132–1139. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2010.02608.x.
  3. Weir, S.-B.S. and Hossein Akhondi (2022). Bland Diet. [online] Nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538142/
  4. Unctv.org. (2018). Can bananas reduce inflammation? A study from Appalachian State University suggests they can | UNC-TV: Science. [online] Available at: https://science.unctv.org/content/scienceblog/bananas
  5. Oregonclinic.com. (2022). BRAT Diet | The Oregon Clinic. [online] Available at: https://www.oregonclinic.com/diets-BRAT
  6. HUANG, Q., MATSUDA, H., SAKAI, K., YAMAHARA, J. and TAMAI, Y. (1990). The Effect of Ginger on Serotonin Induced Hypothermia and Diarrhea. YAKUGAKU ZASSHI, [online] 110(12), pp.936–942. doi:10.1248/yakushi1947.110.12_936.
Cassi Donegan

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Cassi Donegan, Licensed Practical Nurse, is a freelance health writer and editor. She has over 17 years of nursing experience in various specialties including Neurology, Orthopedics, Spine, and Pediatrics. Patient care has convinced her to be passionate about educating others on nutrition, natural childbirth, home birthing, and natural remedies for the holistic and alternative healthcare field.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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