What is a Brat Diet?
For most people, upset stomachs occur either as a result of food poisoning, reaction to certain components of a meal or the inability of the stomach muscles to breakdown certain food components. As a result of this, it is quite common for individuals experiencing this ailment to abstain from the intake of solids and rather opt for liquids that are easily digestible until the stomach calms down. According to experts, the abstinence from solid food until the stomach muscles return to normal functions is not a bad idea but there are actually solids that can assist in culling the issue. Due to the deductions and research by the experts, the BRAT diet came into being.
What then is the BRAT diet?
For those not aware with the BRAT diet phenomena, the term BRAT is actually an acronym for “bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast”. This diet is mainly recommended for people known to suffer from severe stomach issues like diarrhea, vomiting and gastroenteritis. These foods are generally bland and therefore gentle on the stomach thereby reducing the chances of discomfort or unsettlement. Contrary to speculations of the BRAT diet being a weight loss regimen, it is not intended to be used for a long time or serve as a substitute for other solids rather, it is meant to assist in introducing solids back into the diet over the course of a few days after experiencing stomach upsets.
From a nutritional stand point, the diet is low in protein, fiber and fat therefore adding no useful or beneficial elements to the wellbeing of an individual. For those suffering from diarrhea where stools tend to be loose, the banana in the diet produces potassium which solidifies the stool. The potassium also adds replace nutrients which the stooling and vomiting might deprive the body of. The diet is severely lacking in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B12, energy, fat, protein and calcium. It is important to note that the diet is not a long term solution to an ailment rather, a short term one.
Talks about the diet began in 1926 and was mainly recommended for children suffering from forms of diarrhea. Nowadays, the diet is no longer recommended as it is of no nutritional value to the individuals consuming it. In America, the American Academy of Pediatrics have advised that other forms of food can be included alongside the diet appropriate for the child age group. Also, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance do not recommend it from individuals receiving or undergoing stem transplants as it has a lot of nutritional deficiencies.
Although the diet was engineered to suit the age group of toddlers, anyone can partake in it. There are no age restrictions when it comes to the BRAT diet as toddlers and grown-ups are both can engage in it. It is suitable for toddlers especially when they are of the age group where teething is not evident. The bananas and rice can easily be mashed and made easily to swallow. While for grown-ups who have implants as dentition can also easily consume it. For pregnant women suffering from nausea, a bland food like toast can easily offer a means to curb the vomiting that succeeds it.
How Long Is The Diet Meant to Last?
It is important to note that the diet is not a long term solution to an ailment rather, a short term one. The diet does not comprise of healthy nutrients needed to function properly in everyday life and sticking to this regime for a long period of time can lead to malnourishment of the body. And being malnourished translates to the body not recovering at a fast pace. The diet should last a minimum of 24 hours and maximum of 72 hours whereby a regular diet consisting of fruits and vegetables can be reintroduced into the food table. It is best to seek advice of a medical practitioner or family doctor regarding this diet.
Variations of the BRAT Diet
Due to its past popularity, the BRAT diet has had a few tweaks and changes made to it in recent times. An example is the BRATT diet which includes the adding of liquid in the form of tea to the diet regimen. Another variation is the BRATY where the Y stands for Yoghurt.
What To Do When on BRAT Diet
It is important to note that hydration is really important when undergoing this form of diet. Diarrhea and vomiting indicates that the body is trying to expel certain elements from the body and as a result of this, the nutrients which the body needs to function are ejected. Staying hydrated is a really tricky thing when experiencing diarrhea and therefore, drinking liquids is of the essence so as to replace the lost ones. The liquids that can be consumed alongside the diet include water, Apple juice and broth as they stand less chance of causing any irritation to the stomach muscles. The liquids need not be taken in copious amounts but a simple sip every few seconds can go a long way in staying hydrated. Drinks or Liquids that are extremely hot or cold should be avoided as they stand a higher chance of causing irritation to the stomach as well as the intestines when on this diet.
Another thing which an individual loses while experiencing stomach upsets which makes itself known in the form of diarrhea or vomiting is salt and electrolytes. Electrolytes such as potassium are needed in the body to sustain healthy cells and although the BRAT diet consists of banana which is also a source of potassium, it is most likely the body expels more of it than an individual consumes and can replace while on this diet. There are sport drinks that can serve as electrolyte replacements and are sold over the counters in health and supermarket stores and they can assist in replacing the ones lost during the illness. Some of the sports drinks may be harsh on the stomach so a recommendation from a medical practitioner is needed and consumption should be done after conclusion of the BRAT diet and not during.
Alternatives for the diet
The fact that most people suffer from all forms of stomach upsets everyday all over the world cannot be disputed. It is therefore rational to not assume that most of the components that comprise the BRAT diet is not readily available to them and as a result, there should be alternatives to it. These alternatives are handy and can be found in most cabinets or fridges of a regular home.
Such Alternatives are:
- Eggs and Tofu: poultry goods are considered not only as a substitute for the diet but also more nutritious and beneficial to the body. The eggs contain protein but not fiber which can cause irritation. In most cases, experts recommend that the yolk be separated from the albumen. The albumen can be cooked but not fried as greasy food should be abstained from when experiencing stomach upsets. Tofu on the other hand exists as an alternative for the vegetarian or vegan. It is proteinous and also provides a calming effect for the stomach .
- Cereal: There are different types of cereal made from maize, wheat, whole grain etc . The ones recommended when experiencing stomach upsets are those with low fiber made possibly from wheat. This can serve as the source of carbohydrate thereby producing energy for the affected individual.
- Vegetables and Soups: a broth or soup can be made from vegetables and fruits alike. The vegetables and fruits can be mashed to allow for easy digestion. They can also be blended or cooked down to a purée to provide something to easily sip on.
- Cultured food: the water gotten from rice and coconut are effective in curbing diarrhea.
Generally, foods that contain low fiber are good alternatives for the BRAT diet. In fact, most of them are better alternatives as they not only aid in soothing the upset stomach but also provide needed nutrients meant to keep the body functioning.
What To Avoid When on The Brat Diet
The same way there are things that should be done or followed when on this diet, there are also things to be avoided. They include:
- sugary products
- fizzy drinks
- dairy ( milk, cheese, lard )
- high fiber grains
- greasy food
- nuts, lentils, seeds, corns and beans
- uncooked vegetables and dried products
- caffeinated drinks
- citrus fruits
- fishy food
What to Watch Out For When on The BRAT Diet
It is important to gain the approval or consent of a medical practitioner or someone well versed with the intricacies of this diet before undergoing it as it can be a potential health hazard. If the following occurs or attains a level that causes worry, then it is best to seek the help of a doctor.
- increased rate of stooling
- blood or mucus evident in the fecal matter or vomit
- constant nausea
- vomiting or stooling lasts for more than 3 days
- high temperature
A Three Day BRAT diet
Seeing as a BRAT diet should not go beyond the three days limit, here is a simple breakdown of what an individual partaking in it would most likely or should most likely do:
When vomiting or stooling starts, ice chips can be sucked on to keep the individual hydrated. After 6 hours of vomiting or stooling, liquids like water can then be gradually introduced into the body. Then for more sustenance broth and soups can be sipped on.
Bland food that have low fiber can be introduced. This include the four components of the diet ( bananas, rice, applesauce, toast ) but are not restricted to them. The other alternatives listed above can also be added.
Reintroduction of lighter regular day diet can occur. This can be in the form of egg, vegetables and white meat.
Remember that medical associations have recommended that regular food be also ingested alongside the BRAT diet so as to prevent malnourishment. It is therefore advised that before undergoing this diet regime, the input of nutritionists or medical doctors should be sought. Also, if preliminary symptoms still persist, then an alternative solution has to be gotten.