A brat diet allows adults and children to continue a regular diet when they have diarrhea and the American Academy of Pediatrics states that “most children should continue to eat a normal diet…while they have mild diarrhea.” Semisolid or solid foods should be allowed to be consumed in small quantities so as to aid the digestive process to move waste toward the bowel area. Some children do not want a regular diet when they have diarrhea. Using the brat diet for all temporary changes in the diet, however, is not recommended.
Foods to avoid during a brat diet then are any fruit or fruit juices or carbonated beverages with a large amount of sugar. If you are following these instructions there should be a minimal amount of waste, causing the diarrhea to subside quickly. If your child will not cooperate with a brat diet, then limit the intake of sugary foods. If milk or other foods make your child worse, causing vomiting, bloating abdominal pain or more persistent diarrhea, you may need to call a Pediatrician or, for adults, call their regular doctor.
However, using the brat diet for managing diarrhea is not hailed by all physicians as the “be all”, “end all” solution to this problem. A report published in 2001 by the American Academy of Pediatrics no longer recommends the brat diet for managing diarrhea. Physicians are now changing their tune and have concluded that the diet can actually be more harmful than good. They originally felt this way because it allowed the digestive tract to rest while the viral infection that commonly causes diarrhea ran its course. Instead of using the brat diet for treating this condition, the pediatric groups are now recommending that a child’s regular diet be reintroduced within 24 hours of the first bout of diarrhea, with the exception of spicy or fried foods, until the child fully recovers. The same recommendation is issued for adults by primary care physicians. However, the length of time recommended to sustain this type of diet restriction gets attention as well. It can actually be dangerous if a child stays on the brat diet for an extended period of time. A bright red rash on the cheeks of the face, the buttocks and genital areas is a classic symptom of zinc deficiency, which can by caused by sticking to the diet restriction too long. Be careful in caring for the one suffering from this condition as you may help or hurt in your efforts to correct.