Every year, one in six Americans gets sick from contaminated food. Although food poisoning is fairly common, up to 3,000 people die each year because of this preventable health problem.
Often, food contamination occurs due to incorrect storage, cross-contamination, or using expired products. Common contaminants include E.coli, listeria, salmonella, and norovirus. Although eating food contaminated with these organisms can affect different people in different ways, typical food poisoning signs and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, and fever.
But, once you’ve gotten over the worst, it helps to know what to eat after food poisoning to help build your strength back up. So, what are the best food poisoning recovery options and how can they help? Keep reading to find out.
1. Oral Rehydration Solutions
The first step of food poisoning recovery is to replenish the fluids and minerals you’ve lost through diarrhea and vomiting. If you become too dehydrated you might even need medical treatment and some serious consideration of the question, can I sue for food poisoning?
To avoid a trip to the hospital, make sure to boost your electrolyte levels and hydrate your body by sipping on liquid rehydration solutions like Pedialyte or Ceralyte. Rehydration solutions are often more palatable than actual foods at the start of your recovery period. Plus, they can help settle your stomach while replacing minerals such as potassium and sodium.
While many people swear by sports drinks like Gatorade, these beverages contain a lot of sugar. Since sugar can irritate your digestive system and stimulate your bowels, skip the sports drinks and go for one of the options above instead.
2. Broths and Soups
Another great way to build your strength and get over the dehydrating symptoms of food poisoning is to eat watery soups and broths.
Options such as homemade chicken soup, bone broth, or vegetable stock are ideal for hydrating you and replenishing vital minerals in your body. What’s more, these soups are a great base for adding anti-inflammatory ingredients like ginger, mint, and licorice root to soothe your stomach and aid digestion.
One of the top food poisoning tips is to stick to the BRAT diet when you feel ready to eat solids again.
BRAT stands for banana, rice, applesauce, and toast. The first of these, banana, is soft and easy to eat but quite bland in flavor so it shouldn’t be too offensive to your taste buds or too harsh on your delicate stomach. The high starch content in bananas helps you overcome the symptoms of food poisoning by helping to bind your stools together. And, they’re one of the best sources of potassium too.
Medical experts recommend eating plain rice without sauces or spices as a way to introduce solid foods to your stomach after a bout of food poisoning.
Although there is limited research into the BRAT diet, this 2016 study found that rice soup helped children overcome severe diarrhea. As in the study, you could combine the rice with lightly salted water or a watery soup to add flavor without using ingredients that might irritate your stomach.
As one of the BRAT diet foods, applesauce is a well-known staple for overcoming the symptoms of food poisoning and helping you get your appetite back. If possible, stick to homemade applesauce as you can control the amount of added sugar it contains more than with store-bought versions. As for the best apples to use, we recommend Golden Delicious apples for their natural sweetness and soft texture.
Toast is easy to make and easy to eat, as well as a great base for applesauce and bananas, two of the other BRAT diet foods. But, since you should avoid foods high in fat, sugar, and dairy, traditional toast toppings like jam or butter are not advisable. That said, some experts recommend peanut butter when getting over the symptoms of food poisoning so a scraping of PB is an option if plain toast is too boring for you.
7. Low-Sugar Jell-O
The high water content and semi-solid texture of Jell-O make this an easy option for the initial stages of food poisoning recovery. But, since sugary foods can aggravate the signs of food poisoning by stimulating bowel movements and upsetting your stomach, make sure to go for a sugar-free or low-sugar option.
Oatmeal is high in starch, contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals, and is also a good source of protein. When you feel ready to extend to breakfast options beyond toast, oatmeal is perfect for supplying a steady source of energy as you concentrate on regaining your strength.
That said, one of the key food poisoning tips is to avoid dairy products like cow’s milk during recovery as it can worsen inflammation and irritate the stomach. So, you might want to try making your oatmeal with oat milk or rice milk for now.
Like oatmeal, bananas, and other food poisoning recovery recommendations, potatoes are high in starch. This makes them a great post-food poisoning recovery option as they help you overcome diarrhea by binding stools together. Potatoes are also high in carbohydrates, meaning that even a small amount can help replenish your energy levels. And, they’re one of the best sources of potassium too.
Obviously, fries and potato chips are key foods to avoid because of their high fat content. Instead, go for mashed, boiled, or baked potatoes. But make sure to steer clear of toppings and extras like butter, milk, or oil as much as possible.
Crackers and saltines are perfect for eating after a bout of food poisoning. They’re bland and gentle on your stomach, making them an easy food to keep down even if you’re still feeling nauseous. The salt in crackers also helps replenish the sodium you would have lost while vomiting and aids with fluid retention.
What to Eat After Food Poisoning
It can be tricky to know what to eat after food poisoning. Not only does it feel difficult to face the prospect of eating again, but there are also lots of foods that can worsen the symptoms of food poisoning.
Luckily, this list should make it easier for you to know what to eat and what to avoid during food poisoning recovery.
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