We’ve been there, felt that: A grumbling, upset stomach that’s practically uttering “oh no…” after you eat. Whether it’s due to the stomach flu (AKA acute gastroenteritis), food poisoning, a digestive disease (something 60 to 70 million Americans struggle with, according to the National Institute of Health), pregnancy or just feeling queasy, it’s tough to stomach the thought of eating anything.
But your body needs calories to fight off any bacteria or viruses—not to mention to fuel your brain and body for daily activity—so it’s important to try to at least eat a few mini meals throughout the day even when the last thing you want to think about may be food. Adjusting your diet to feature plenty of fluids plus softly-textured, bland, lower-fiber nutritious foods should allow you to ease back into your regular diet as you heal. Avoid spicy items, high-fat or fried foods, anything super-acidic (such as citrus, vinegar or tomatoes) and as always, artificial sweeteners.
If you’re noticing signs of severe dehydration (high heart rate, low blood pressure, very dark-hued urine or confusion), your abdominal pain is sharp or severe or if your symptoms last 7 days or more, check in with your doctor.
7 Easy to Digest Foods to Add to Your Diet If Your Stomach Hurts
Its soft texture and mild flavor profile make oatmeal an easy-to-digest food even though each cup does pack in 5 grams of fiber. Try cooking it with water (psst…here’s your complete guide for how to make oatmeal at home) to keep the fat content low, and seek out a gluten-free brand if needed. Since quick oats are slightly more ground down and in smaller pieces than steel cut, quick oats will likely be your best bet.
Any kind of banana offers a healthy dose of carbohydrates, potassium and other micronutrients, but seek out yellow or yellow with a few brown spots instead of an under-ripe green banana for the most stomach-friendly option. With a soft texture and natural sugars that can boost energy, a banana can work wonderfully on its own as a snack or sliced atop that oatmeal.
Mom was onto something when she gave you a sleeve of saltines when you were home from school with a stomach bug. Low in fiber, bland and easy to digest, these crackers are often recommended for pregnant women who have signs of morning sickness. Just be sure to only chow down on these if textured foods are appealing.
Warm liquids can not only be hydrating—which is crucial if you’re experiencing diarrhea or vomiting—but can also be comforting in times of sickness. Try a mug or bowl of bone broth or smooth, low-fat, not-too-spicy soup such as chicken soup for some electrolytes and a bit of protein. If you’re sipping on or spooning something made with real animal bones, you’ll likely score some collagen, too, which may help bolster the lining of your stomach to reduce inflammation.
Yes, most vegetables are rich in fiber, but once cooked, they become a lot easier to digest. Try steamed spinach, roasted pumpkin or mashed butternut squash for a low-acid nosh that delivers a lot of vitamins and minerals per bite.
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As long as you don’t buy or make a five-alarm chile-spiced version, this fairly-low-fat and low-fiber dip can make a great easy-to-digest food to enjoy as a snack alongside basic crackers or white pita wedges. Hummus is an easy, affordable source of all of the macronutrients and it’s a cinch to find a store-bought option that’s tasty and actually good for you. Stick to plain, garlic or lemon for a mildly-flavored mini meal.
0 Percent Greek Yogurt
Dairy is typically on the “steer clear” list when discussing easy-to-digest foods. However, if you’re not lactose intolerant, low-fat or non-fat Greek yogurt is a stellar snack, especially if you’re taking antibiotics for your stomach woes. In addition to protein, Greek yogurt with live active cultures also delivers probiotics, which may promote gut health and could assist in rebuilding the microbiome’s good bacteria that the antibiotics cleared out along with the foreign invaders.
(photo credit: Shutterstock)
Health, Food, Wine and Relationship Writer + Cooking and Wine Event Host
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