What to eat when you just can’t eat


Hopefully this is the blog post you will never need, but if you do, I hope it’s helpful to you. Having stomach problems is never fun. You can either help or hinder your healing with the right foods.

The BRAT Diet
I got really familiar with this one last week — luckily I already knew about it. BRAT stands for:

  • Bananas
  • Rice (preferably white)
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

These are foods that are easy to digest and good for an upset stomach.

Usually I’m all about the brown rice, much to Mr. Judy’s chagrin, but when your stomach is upset, white rice is your friend. It’s just easier to digest. I won’t say Mr. Judy was actually happy I was sick, but he was happy he didn’t have to eat the dreaded brown rice. Soon, honey, soon.

Unless you have a sensitivity or an allergy, eggs are generally an easily digestible protein. You’re probably less active, so you won’t need as much protein as usual, but if you don’t get any, your body is going to turn to your muscles for its protein.

You don’t want to lose your muscles, right?

A little immunity boost + much needed digestible protein

Bone Broth
I almost always have bone broth around. I don’t actually enjoy drinking it on its own; usually I use it as a base for soups. However, I drank a whole lotta bone broth while sick and while recovering. It’s another easily digestible source of protein, but if you believe the hype, it will cure anything that ails you.

Probably not, but it is soothing to the stomach in addition to an easy source of protein.

Rice is a little easier to digest than potatoes, but potatoes aren’t far behind. White or sweet, it’s all good.

Whipped topping + juice flavored gelatin for more soothing protein

Jello or Gelatin?
Jello got its reputation for stomach soothing sort of the same way bone broth did — it’s the gelatin. The problem with actual Jello is that it’s usually full of additives and sugar. It may soothe your stomach but it’s not doing a whole lot for your health.

Making home made? That’s a different story, and it’s really not that hard. There will still be a fair amount of sugar, but there will also be easily digestible protein — again. And let’s face it, unless you’re a vegetarian, jello is a nice sweet treat. I started craving sweets, no doubt because for a week I wasn’t eating a whole lot at all. Home made jello will soothe your stomach, provide you with easily digestible protein, and curb your cravings for sweets.

I used Vital Proteins Unflavored Beef Gelatin (Amazon Affiliate link here) — make sure you don’t buy the Collagen Peptides, as that won’t gel — although you can use that in cold or hot drinks for the same benefits, minus the sugar. Great Lakes is another commonly recommended brand.

Chocolate: for Medicinal Purposes Only
I’m not kidding! Okay, so chocolate isn’t necessarily good for an upset stomach — it’s high in both fat and sugar. Ginger, on the other hand, is a known tummy soother (as is peppermint — I drank a lot of ginger tea!). I prefer to get mine in the form of dark chocolate covered crystalized ginger. I have that on hand because I also like to use some for long runs & races.

I ate it several times a day while my stomach was still upset, and it did not upset it further. You can, of course, stick to the teas or use ginger candies or plain crystalized ginger or grind up ginger root in your smoothies.

Bland, easily digestible food for when you’re feeling better

When you’re feeling better
It’s time to start adding in some actual lean protein: chicken and fish are usually good choices.

Raw vegetables, unfortunately, are hard to digest when you’re not feeling good. I’m used to a lot of veggies and a high fiber diet, but I went pretty much a week with nary a vegetable.

When you’re feeling better, adding in some green smoothies is a great way to reintroduce veggies. Blending the veggies helps make them much easier to digest. I have a smoothie board on Pinterest here, and I added several smoothies that are good for upset stomachs and foods to eat for an upset stomach to it (some day maybe I’ll make that two boards).

  • What’s your go-to “cure” for an upset stomach?
  • What foods do you find to be easily digestible?
  • Have you had a green smoothie recently?


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


22 thoughts on “What to eat when you just can’t eat

  1. This is excellent. I do what I call a White Food diet if I have an IBS flare-up (thankfully rare now, helped by my running and yoga practice and getting my endometriosis (I didn’t know I had) treated) which is basically BRAT but runs to white rice, toast, hot cross buns (my go-to always) white pasta, white fish, bananas. I drink a lot of orange lucozade, diluted half and half, to replace electrolytes, and will add in some chicken, I then ALWAYS want crisps and sardine and tomato paste (not together) as I come out of it so I go for that as I’m pretty good at craving what I need when it’s not sugar. And I agree on mint and ginger.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interestingly, I asked the dr if I should’ve have taken more electrolytes. I hadn’t been vomiting all day before my episode, and no problems on the other end, either.

      So he said no, my electrolytes looked just fine.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad I don’t ever have stomach problems.

    I do remember Coke making me feel better.

    Thanks for the tips.

    A big No on Smoothies since Starbucks no longer makes them. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most of Starbucks smoothies had lots & lots of sugar in them (which of course is why they taste so good).

      I haven’t had a stomach virus since I don’t know when. Probably since I was a teenager. Eating healthier definitely helped with that sort of thing!


  3. Great tips. I generally just go with dry toast when my stomach isn’t feeling well. And ginger ale. Which is funny because I’m sure it doesn’t have any actual ginger in it but I guess it helps me mentally 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny, I was discussing this with my husband, and realized that I forgot to mention ginger ale. Most doesn’t have any ginger in it, but some do — you’ve got to read the ingredients (something I keep trying to hammer home for him).


  4. I had to laugh when I read the part about the white rice. I bought brown rice at the store this week in an attempt to eat healthier and Bill’s response: “Why are you buying THAT?”

    I have to check out your smoothie board. I love smoothies anytime – not just when I have an upset tummy. Hope you are feeling better!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, obviously, I’m well versed in the BRAT diet! Seems like everyone’s got a stomach bug the past couple of weeks. Pasta is also good for an upset tummy and dairy is a no-no. I like your suggestion about homemade jello–the store bought product is bad for you–with high fructose corn syrup, it can actually make things worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do agree on dairy, but then I don’t consume a lot of dairy. I had one day where I was getting hungry and really tired of eating bland foods. Let’s just say the things I chose to eat, while still relatively easy to digest, did not sit well at all that day.


  6. Gosh I have not heard of the BRAT diet in years, but it was common-place in the chatter within my playgroup when the kids were young. I have never made home-made jello…I should give that a go. My mom made jello (out of a box LOL) practically on a daily basis when I was growing up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not actually a jello fan, but with a little whipped topping (I used a coconut whipped topping) — and knowing it didn’t have nasty ingredients in it — now I’m kind of hooked!


  7. Luckily I don’t get stomach bugs very often, but when my daughter has an upset stomach I’m always pushing the BRAT diet — thank goodness it’s vegan. Personally, I go for chicken noodle soup and crackers. I just don’t like Jell-O.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t get stomach bugs often either! Although the same thing can hold true if you have a fever & don’t feel like eating — I am more prone to fevers.

      There are alternatives to jello for vegans. At some point, I’ll be writing more about gelatin & its uses!

      Chicken noodle soup & crackers are definitely easy on an upset stomach. Crackers have almost zero nutritional value, though, and I know when I’m sick I need food that is doing my body good.


  8. This is such a great topic. Although we never hope to use it, it’s good to know about the BRAT diet.
    When I have an upset stomach I find that kombucha usually makes me feel better. I used to use ginger ale but it has too much sugar for my liking. I also stick to bland foods like dry toast or broth.


    1. Kombucha — interesting! I go through phases with that. They do make ginger Kombucha, too! I’ll file that one away.

      One reason I didn’t make “jello” earlier was that I couldn’t go food shopping for a long time, and trying to explain to my husband which gelatin product to get — way too difficult. And if I’d thought about it sooner (seriously, I never expected it to last that long), I would’ve just ordered it off of Amazon!


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