A bout of gastro rips through your family leaving the toilet in filth, the laundry pile sky high, the house smelling of disinfectant and everyone feeling exhausted and impossibly weak.
We’ve all been there, the gastro pits, where you fear not only contaminating other friends or family, but also recontaminating yourselves.
Gastroenteritis is a common infection which causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and high temperatures in both children and adults. It is highly contagious and requires bed rest and a bland diet. You or your children may not have the desire or appetite to eat, but you do need to consume something to help your body recover and re-hydrate.
Foods to avoid:
Absolutely anything dairy is likely to set off nausea and vomiting again. Just as people with lactose intolerance experience pain in their digestive tract because of it, as your digestive system is damaged post-gastro, dairy products will cause pain in a non-lactose intolerant person
Anything too sweet or sugary as this also sets off digestive pain and can worsen diarrhoea
Oily or fatty food
Highly acidic food
Hot or spicy food
Any food and drink with large amounts of caffeine – avoid coffee
Fruit juice can cause symptoms to worsen again
Foods to eat
During and in the first 1 or 2 days recovering from gastro, try:
- Lots of water
- Weak tea
- Soda water – some people actually find the fizz makes them feel better, but if you’re not aware that you’re one of those people, try diluting with water first and give a vigorous stir to get rid of most of the carbonation
- Weak cordial, particularly lemon
- Watered down electrolyte drinks such as Lucozade, or chemist specific ones such as Hydralyte
- Ice cubes
- Dry biscuits and crackers
- Dry toast
- A mild flavoured, un-spiced, clear broth of chicken or beef with all fat skimmed off provides a warm and gentle intake of necessary protein
When just the glancing thought of food doesn’t send you rushing to the toilet and you’ve managed to keep down several of the above foods, try:
- Add a little fruit into your diet, particularly banana and apple (as part of the BRAT – Bananas, Rice, Apples, Toast – diarrhoea recovery diet)
- Plain boiled white rice
- Gently steamed or poached chicken
- Steamed white fish
- Thin vegetable soup
- Plain mashed potato or plain boiled potatoes
(I heard on Radio National that farmers in Victoria feed their cows raspberry cordial which is supposed to be a bit of a gastro miracle cure….)
After this you should be able to slowly transition into your regular diet, but do try to avoid fatty, oily, spicy, sugary foods for at least a week after the end of gasto to ensure fast recovery.