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What To Eat (And NOT) When Your Stomach Is Upset

Nobody likes the feeling of an upset stomach. The nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea are miserable.

And uggh! The thought of putting food into an already upset stomach sounds like a horrible idea. Just the smell of certain foods can make you feel queasy all over again.

Still, there are some foods and beverages that can provide a little nutrition – and even help soothe your unsettled stomach. This is true regardless of whether the issue is caused by something you’ve eaten previously, or if it’s due to a viral or bacterial infection.

The first step is getting plenty of liquids into your stomach. Every time you vomit or have a bout of diarrhea, you lose important fluids and electrolytes that can cause you to become dehydrated.

So make sure to drink plenty of water, and add a good electrolyte replacement drink such as coconut water. Green tea is also a great way to replenish your fluids, especially when you add stomach-soothing ingredients like ginger or peppermint to the tea.

Broths and soups are great, too, because they are chock full of the vitamins, minerals, fluids and electrolytes that your body needs for recovery.

One of my favorites is chicken broth or soup. That’s what my grandmother always gave me as a kid whenever I was sick or had a stomachache – and it always seemed to do the trick.

I don’t know exactly what she put in hers, but I like to make mine with pastured chicken and plenty of organic onions, sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, celery, garlic, parsnips and other veggies for maximum nutrition and hydration.

If the solid bits are initially too much for your queasy stomach to handle, strain out some of the broth and drink it as a clear liquid. Store the remaining (full-bodied) soup in the refrigerator and save it for the next day or two when you start reintroducing solids into your diet.

Miso soup, bone broth and vegetable broths are other good choices.

Getting Back on Solid Food

When you start reintroducing solids, I suggest considering the BRAT Diet. This is simply an acronym that stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. It’s basically a bland diet of foods that are easy to digest. This, in turn, gives your digestive system a chance to rest and heal.

The potassium in bananas helps stimulate mucus production in the stomach lining and protect the gastric mucosa. It also supports digestion and reduces stomach pain. Plus, the pectin in bananas can help reduce diarrhea, and the inulin acts as a prebiotic for healthy gut bacteria.

Applesauce also contains pectin. In fact, you will find more pectin in applesauce than raw apples. That’s because the apples in applesauce are cooked. This produces additional pectin and makes the applesauce easier to digest than a fresh apple.

And while I am not a big fan of either white rice or toast, I don’t consider it off-limits to use them as a short-term aid when it comes to settling an upset stomach.

Other bland foods that can help include certain cooked vegetables such as beets, spinach, carrots, green beans and sweet potatoes. You’ll want to avoid gassy or spicy vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, onion, peppers and arugula. And never eat raw vegetables when dealing with stomach issues. They contain too much natural fiber and increase issues with soft, runny stools.

You can also begin adding small amounts of lean meat as well; say a little lean turkey or chicken with a cracker or celery stick. Just make sure it’s fresh, pastured poultry and not the kind that comes in a package or from the deli.

What NOT to Eat on an Upset Stomach

What you put into your stomach is going to make all the difference in how quickly you recover. Many foods will make symptoms worse, and you will want to avoid them at all costs.

Fried foods are probably a no-brainer. When that grease settles at the top of an already upset stomach, it’s a recipe for disaster.

You will have a similar reaction to spicy foods. Those spices will not play well with the already sensitive lining of your gut, and increases the likelihood of worsening symptoms of diarrhea.

Sugary foods and drinks cause food to move from your stomach and into your small bowel too quickly after you eat. This contributes to diarrhea and other digestive complaints.

Dairy products add to gas, bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea, especially among those who are lactose intolerant.

Carbonated beverages cause gas to build up in your digestive system, aggravating the symptoms of an upset stomach, including bloating, cramping and discomfort.

The key is to stick with healthy liquids and bland foods until you are fully recovered. Then, resume a regular diet filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and small amounts of pastured poultry, grassfed beef and wild-caught fish.

If your symptoms persist or become unbearable, don’t hesitate to make a trip to a local Emergency Care Center or have yourself checked out at a hospital emergency room.


Weir SBS, Akhondi H. Bland Diet. [Updated 2023 Jul 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.