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Bland diet

A bland diet can be used to treat ulcers, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and gas. You may also need a bland diet after stomach or intestinal surgery.

A bland diet includes foods that are soft, not very spicy, and low in fiber. If you are on a bland diet, you should not eat spicy, fried, or raw foods. You should not drink alcohol or drinks with caffeine in them.

Your doctor or nurse will tell you when you can start eating other foods again. It is still important to eat healthy foods when you add foods back in. Your doctor can refer you to a dietitian or nutritionist to help you plan a healthy diet.

Foods you can eat

Foods you can eat on a bland diet include:

  • Milk and other dairy products, low-fat only
  • Cooked, canned, or frozen vegetables
  • Fruit and vegetable juices
  • Cooked or canned fruit with the skin and seeds removed, such as applesauce or canned peaches
  • Breads, crackers, and pasta made with refined white flour
  • Refined, hot cereals, such as oatmeal and cream of wheat
  • Lean, tender meats, such as poultry, whitefish, and shellfish that are steamed, baked, or grilled with no added fat
  • Creamy peanut butter
  • Pudding and custard
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Soup, especially broth
  • Weak tea

Foods to avoid

Some foods you should not eat when you are on a bland diet are:

  • Fatty dairy foods, such as whipped cream or high-fat ice cream
  • Strong cheeses, such as bleu or Roquefort cheese
  • Raw vegetables
  • Vegetables that make you gassy, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, green peppers, and corn
  • Fresh berries and other fresh fruits
  • Dried fruits
  • Whole-grain or bran cereals
  • Whole-grain breads, crackers, or pasta
  • Pickles, sauerkraut, and similar foods
  • Spices, such as hot pepper and garlic
  • Foods with a lot of sugar or honey in them
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Highly seasoned, cured or smoked meats and fish
  • Fried foods

You should also avoid medicine that contains aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

Other diet tips

When you are on a bland diet:

  • Eat small meals, and eat more often during the day
  • Chew your food slowly, and chew it well
  • Stop smoking cigarettes, if you smoke
  • Do not eat within 2 hours of your bedtime
  • Don't eat foods that are on the "foods to avoid" list, especially if you do not feel well after eating them
  • Drink fluids slowly

References

Noel MB, Thompson M, Wadland WC, Holtrop JS. Nutrition and Family Medicine. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 37.

Update Date: 5/11/2014

Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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