Doctors often recommend a bland diet to patients recovering from surgery, or to individuals experiencing gastrointestinal problems such as severe acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, or colitis. The diet may also help treat peptic ulcers, nausea, and diarrhea. The purpose of a bland diet is to provide nourishment without irritating the digestive tract. Most foods eaten on this diet are lower in fiber and higher in pH, with a soft texture and mild flavor.
Low-fiber fruits such as bananas and melons are generally easy on the stomach. Fruits that are canned or jarred without their peel may also be easy to digest. All these are good options for people on a bland diet. Doctors often recommend against eating the seeds or peels of fruits, which can irritate the digestive tract.
Most people with gastrointestinal problems can easily digest cooked white pasta. The low acidity and mild taste of plain noodles make them a good choice for anyone with acid reflux or nausea, and white pasta is easier to digest than whole grain. If a person is on a bland diet due to a condition related to a gluten allergy, they should avoid wheat pasta, but rice flour pasta and other mild, gluten-free grain pasta are available in many grocery stores.
Boneless, skinless chicken or turkey is a great choice for a bland diet. This food can be eaten on its own or added to pasta, rice, vegetables, or other bland foods. It is important to prepare the poultry with very little or no seasoning and to trim it of all fat before consuming.
Applesauce is low in acidity and fiber, and is soft and easy to digest. People on a bland diet can enjoy applesauce to satisfy cravings for sweets, or as a balanced addition to meals or snacks. Unsweetened applesauce better regulates blood sugars and is easier to digest.
Salmon is low in fat, soft, and easy to digest, which makes it the perfect addition to a bland diet. The fish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit both the body and the brain. Because salmon is a mild fish, it is ideal for people who experience frequent acid reflux.
White rice can be combined with many other foods on the bland diet and is useful for adding texture to dishes. Because rice has a mild flavor, it matches well with most protein and vegetable dishes. Aside from carbohydrates, white rice has little nutritional value, but its simplicity makes it the perfect addition to this restrictive diet.
Bread is full of complex carbohydrates and grains that nourish the body and promote healthy energy levels. It is also easy for the body to digest and break down, and non-irritating to the digestive tract. Adding fats such as margarine or butter, or other toppings, to toast can hinder digestion, however. Plain white bread or toast is best, though topping with canned fruits (if the body can handle them) can make this bland meal option more palatable.
Nutritionists often recommend broth to people with intestinal troubles such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. A simple chicken or beef broth can replenish electrolytes after illness and help the body regain energy. Anyone experiencing nausea will usually find broth one of the easiest things to consume and keep down when beginning to introduce foods back into the diet.
Cottage cheese is low in fat and a healthy source of calcium -- the soft texture is non-irritating to the digestive tract. If dairy intolerance is suspected as a cause of the intestinal issues, however, soft cheeses should be avoided until this cause is ruled out.
Eggs are versatile, which helps add variety to an otherwise less-than-exciting diet. Anyone on a bland diet can enjoy eggs prepared however they choose, provided the meal is free of added fats or difficult-to-digest cheese or vegetables. That said, the Heart Foundation recommends people limit themselves to six or seven eggs a week due to their high cholesterol content.
Boiled, baked, or mashed potatoes add bulk and texture to meals and are easy to chew and swallow. This food pairs well with any meat or vegetable, too. Potatoes are good sources of vitamin B6, which helps the body break down proteins and fats. They also provide a generous supply of immune-boosting vitamin C. Sweet potatoes bring a vibrant look and flavor to dishes without overtaxing a weakened digestive system. They are also a rich source of potassium, an essential mineral needed to help maintain normal fluid levels inside cells. Potassium also helps regulate nerve signals and muscle contractions, including the heart.
Composed of 94% water, pumpkin is packed with soothing flavor and a surprising amount of nutrients for a bland diet. A serving provides plenty of vitamins A, B2, C, and E, as well as potassium, copper, and manganese. Antioxidants contribute to cell regeneration and may lower the risk of some cancers. The fiber in this low-calorie gourd feeds healthy gut bacteria and helps you feel full longer.
Drinking a warm or cold cup of chamomile tea can be a refreshing experience that imparts significant health benefits for people on a restricted bland diet. Research suggests that this beverage can improve antioxidant status and glycemic control in those with type 2 diabetes. Chamomile contains compounds that may fight inflammation responsible for many gastrointestinal issues. The flower’s constituents also help reduce anxiety and promote sleep.
Some individuals can enjoy smooth peanut butter on a bland diet. Extensive studies show that people who regularly include nuts and nut butter in their diets are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease than those who rarely consume these foods. Choose unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter for lower sodium and carbohydrate intake, and to reduce the likelihood of stomach irritation.
Fortunately, you can perk up your bland diet with herbs and spices that go easy on the digestive tract in small amounts. These boost flavor and nutritional value thanks to their powerful antioxidant properties. In clinical studies, some herbs and spices demonstrate the prebiotic-like potential to regulate intestinal microbiota health. Enhance your bland diet with a dash of
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