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.
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