Here's What To Eat When You've Had Diarrhea Forever

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Having diarrhea is kind of like having a hangover: It's really painful and makes you regret everything you consumed the day or night before. Everyone gets diarrhea — a.k.a. loose, frequent, or watery poops — and it can be caused by an infection, inflammation from another GI disorder, or something you ate, says Melissa Rosen, MD, gastroenterologist and clinical assistant professor of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center.
It's "normal" to poop anywhere from three times a day to three times a week, and everyone is different, Dr. Rosen says. "It's also a matter of perception: For somebody who moves their bowels once a day, a sudden increase in frequency will be of concern to them," she says, adding that diarrhea can also refer to a change in the consistency of your stools. Now that we've talked a lot of shit (sorry), here's how you can get rid of diarrhea.
The good news? Even though it can feel kind of gross, diarrhea is usually not a huge deal and will go away on its own. However, if you've had diarrhea for at least two weeks, or you have blood in your stool, significant abdominal pain, fevers, or dehydration, that is a sign that there may be something more serious going on, so you should see a doctor, Dr. Rosen says.
But, if you're just waiting for your bowels to get back to normal during a typical experience with diarrhea, you should drink lots of fluids (at least one cup per bout of diarrhea) and eat binding foods, Dr. Rosen says. "These are foods that tend to be easily digested; they're bland foods," she says. It's best to stay away from greasy foods, raw veggies, and dairy until your poop is back to normal, she says. It's also a good idea to eat a bunch of small meals, rather than three big ones.
Here are some foods that will help you get your shit together.
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Dr. Rosen says doctors usually recommend a "BRAT" diet of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, when someone has diarrhea. Low-fiber fruits like bananas will help slow your bowels, according to Medline Plus. Your body also loses potassium when you're pooping a lot, according to Mayo Clinic, so bananas will help replenish that.
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White Rice

Plain white rice is great, because it's starchy, which helps to bind your stool, Dr. Rosen says. But brown rice is a high-fiber food, which probably won't help your diarrhea get better, according to Mayo Clinic.
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One very old study (which looked at mice) linked eating applesauce with getting rid of diarrhea, because it contains a type of soluble fiber called pectin that helps your bowels. Eating raw fruits and vegetables isn't smart when you have diarrhea, because they're harder to digest, Dr. Rosen says. Applesauce is usually made from cooked apples, which makes it easier on your GI tract.
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Just like rice, simple white toast will bind your bowels, Dr. Rosen says. In this case, bread made from refined white flour is better than whole wheat or grain bread, according to Medline Plus. (Un-toasted bread also works fine, if you prefer that.)
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Spuds are another high-potassium, plain, white starch. Make sure you peel the skin, though, because it contains a lot of fiber that will make your bowels looser, according to Medline Plus. And French fries don't count, because they're fried, which Dr. Rosen says won't help your bowels.
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Eating salt will actually help your body hold onto fluids that you might be losing from diarrhea, according to Donald Kirby, MD, director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition. Pretzels are also simple carbs, which can help.
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A soup with a salty, clear broth (like chicken noodle or ramen), may also keep you from getting dehydrated, Dr. Kirby told Cleveland Clinic. Some doctors prescribe a "clear liquid diet" when you have digestive problems like diarrhea, because those kinds of foods won't leave any residue in your intestinal tract, according to Mayo Clinic.

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