Shelly Frischmann, A.P.N.P., F.N.P.-C.
Viral gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection marked by watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea or vomiting and sometimes fever. It often is called a stomach “bug” or the stomach “flu,” but it’s not actually the flu or influenza, which is a respiratory illness. This infection often develops though contact with an infected person or by ingesting contaminated food or water.
An upset stomach is a common symptom of a stomach bug, and this can make eating sound unappealing, even though you may be hungry. Knowing what to eat is difficult because you don’t always know what’s going to agree with your stomach.
I recommend these tips for fueling your body when you have viral gastroenteritis:
- Let your stomach settle.
Avoid solid foods for a few hours, and stick with liquids.
Try drinking clear soda or broths, or noncaffeinated sports drinks in small, but frequent, amounts to stay hydrated.
- Ease back into eating.
Gradually incorporate bland, easy-to-digest foods into your system, but be sure to back off if your nausea returns. Foods to eat include clear broths, crackers, toast, gelatin, bananas, rice and chicken.
- Avoid certain foods until you feel better.
These foods include dairy products, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, processed foods, and fatty, spicy or highly seasoned foods.
- Be cautious with medications.
It’s best to use medications, such as ibuprofen, with food and sparingly, if at all, as they can cause an upset stomach. As always, discuss your medications with your health care provider to avoid any potential side effects.
The main complication of a stomach bug is dehydration ― a severe loss of water, and essential salts and minerals. If you’re healthy and drink enough to replace fluids you lose from vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration shouldn’t be a problem.