Diarrhea! Part 1

This is not a topic that one likes to chat about during cocktail hour or when one is out to dinner with friends (although I must admit, it certainly doesn’t bother some people to bring their diarrhea issues up with me when I am in a social setting for some reason), but it is most certainly a problem that many people suffer from chronically. And sure, I’ll step up to the plate and say yes, I am one of them.

I am not talking about acute diarrhea from an infection but an ongoing, long term problem caused by various reasons. So, we asked Dra. Mariana Esteva, one of our gastric physicians what she recommends about specific foods to eat, and to avoid for those with chronic diarrhea troubles.

She says to limit foods and beverages that contain sugar, lactose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup and sorbitol. Avoid beverages with caffeine.  Eat a small meal or snack every 3 to 4 hours.  Avoid spicy foods.  My personal opinion? B-O-R-I-N-G.

Foods that are recommended:  (and remember if your symptoms get worse after eating specific foods on this list, you should stop eating them!):

Dairy:  Buttermilk, evaporated, skim and low-fat milk, soy milk, yogurt with live active cultures, powdered milk, low-fat, part-skim and aged cheese. Note: If you have lactose intolerance drinking milk products may aggravate diarrhea! Try lactose-free products.

Grains: Breads, bagels, rolls, crackers and pasta made from white or refined flour, white rice, cream of wheat, cereals made from refined grains (puffed rice, cornflakes) without added fiber. Note: Choose grain foods with less than 2 gms of fiber per serving.

Fruits/Vegetables:  Fruit juice without pulp, ripe bananas, melon, and most well cooked vegetables without seeds or skins, potatoes without skin, lettuce, strained vegetable juice.

Proteins: Tender, well-cooked meat, pork, poultry, fish, eggs or soy foods made without added fat, smooth nut butters (if tolerated).

Beverages: Water, decaffeinated coffee, decaffeinated tea, soft drinks without caffeine, rehydration beverages.  Note: People need 8 to 10 cups of fluid per day.  You may need to drink more to replace fluids lost to diarrhea.

Fats: Fats include oil, butter, cream, cream cheese, margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressings. Note: Limit fats to less than 8 teaspoons per day.

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Foods that are not recommended:

Dairy: Whole milk, half and half, cream, sour cream, whole milk ice cream, yogurt with berries, dried fruit or nuts.

Grains: Whole wheat, whole wheat breads, rolls, crackers, pasta. Brown or wild rice, barley, oats, whole grains, whole grain cereals, bran, breads, cereals with seeds or nuts, popcorn.

Fruits: Raw fruits except bananas, melons, dried fruits including prunes, raisins, canned fruit in heavy syrup, prune juice.

Vegetables:  Raw vegetables, fried vegetables, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, corn.

Proteins: Fried meats, luncheon meats, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, nuts.

Beverages: Anything with caffeine, alcoholic beverages.

Other: Sugar alcohols such as xylitol and sorbitol, honey.


Obviously this is not anything written in stone!  These are suggestions only and one should speak with a physician or a dietician to create a personalized diet.  I have been thinking about putting together a “chronic diarrhea support group” and we can meet with our nutritionist and Dra. Mariana perhaps once a month and share ideas and suggestions.  If anyone is interested, please send me an email!

Next week, we will cover an acute diarrhea diet!


Maybe I will see you in the sub-zero produce room at Costco!


Pamela Thompson on Email