What can I eat if I just had food poisoning?

Food poisoning can be rough on your body. After having food poisoning, your stomach and digestive system need time to recover. Eating the right foods can help stop symptoms and nourish your body back to health. But what exactly should you eat after food poisoning?

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning happens when you consume food or water contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins. It affects your digestive tract and causes symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, chills, fever, and fatigue.

Food poisoning usually resolves on its own in 24-48 hours as the toxins pass through your system. However, it can take time for your digestive system to recover. You may feel weak, dehydrated, and unable to stomach your normal diet. This is why choosing the right foods to eat after food poisoning is important.

How long does food poisoning last?

The duration of food poisoning depends on what caused it and how much contaminated food or water you ingested. Symptoms can start anywhere from 1 hour to 10 days after exposure.

Mild food poisoning may only last 1 or 2 days. Severe cases caused by harmful bacteria or toxins can last 3-6 days or longer. Viruses like norovirus typically take 1-3 days to resolve. Parasites like giardia can cause intermittent symptoms for several weeks if left untreated.

No matter what caused your food poisoning, you’ll want to eat carefully for at least a few days after to prevent upsetting your stomach again.

What are the best foods to eat after food poisoning?

When recovering from food poisoning, there are certain foods that are gentler and easier to digest. Good choices include:

1. Clear liquids

Clear, liquid foods will help rehydrate you after all the vomiting and diarrhea. Options include:

– Water: Staying hydrated is key. Sip small amounts of water throughout the day.

– Clear broths: Chicken, vegetable, or beef broth contain electrolytes and nutrients.

– Weak tea: Decaffeinated black tea or herbal tea provide hydration without caffeine.

– Diluted fruit juices: Try apple, cranberry, or grape juice mixed with water. Avoid citrus or berry juices as these may further upset your stomach.

– Oral rehydration solutions: These contain the right balance of water, salts, and sugars to replenish what your body has lost.

– Gelatin: This bland, clear snack can help provide calories and protein.

– Popsicles: Homemade popsicles made from diluted juices or broth can relieve thirst and soothe your throat.

2. Probiotic foods

The beneficial bacteria in probiotic foods can help repopulate your gut with healthy microorganisms after a bout of food poisoning or gastroenteritis. Some good options include:

– Yogurt: Choose plain, unsweetened yogurt and eat slowly.

– Kefir: This drinkable yogurt provides probiotics as well as protein and nutrients.

– Buttermilk: Opt for low-fat or nonfat buttermilk.

– Fermented foods: Try kimchi, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, or pickles.

3. Bland starches

Mild starches like crackers, toast, potatoes, noodles, and oatmeal are easy on the digestive tract. Just don’t eat a large portion. Try:

– Plain rice cakes or saltine crackers.

– White bread or plain bagels.

– Boiled or baked potatoes without skin.

– Rice porridge or plain oatmeal.

– Weak tea.

– Clear broth.

4. Lean proteins

When you’re ready to incorporate more protein, opt for lean and tender proteins that are low in fat and fried textures:

– Skinless chicken or turkey, boiled, baked, or stewed.

– Fish like cod, tilapia, or flounder. Avoid heavy, greasy fish.

– Soft or pureed tofu.

– Eggs, especially egg whites.

– Creamy nut butters thinned with water or weak tea.

5. Low fiber fruits and vegetables

Some produce may be too high fiber, raw, or too acidic after food poisoning. Stick to low fiber cooked options:

– Canned peaches, pears, applesauce, or pumpkin puree.

– Well-cooked carrots, green beans, asparagus tips, or squash.

– Tomato sauce or low acid tomato purees.

Steer clear of gas-producing veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, cucumbers, and salad greens until your system recovers. High fiber fruits like berries, figs, dates, melons, pineapple, and grapes can also cause GI issues.

6. Condiments

Season foods lightly with simple condiments and spices:

– Small amounts of salt, sugar, honey, syrup

– Mild herbs like parsley, oregano, thyme

– Ground spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger

Avoid anything spicy, fried, fatty, acidic, or with complex flavors. These can further irritate your stomach.

What foods should you avoid after food poisoning?

Certain foods tend to make symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, and cramping worse after food poisoning. Foods to avoid or minimize include:

Heavy fats and oils

Greasy, fried, and fatty foods are difficult to digest. Avoid:

– Butter, margarine, and oils

– Full-fat dairy

– Fatty cuts of meat

– Pizza, burgers, fries

– Chips, fast food, takeout

– Nuts, nut butters

– Coconut milk

Spicy seasonings

Black pepper, chilies, and other pungent spices can further upset your stomach. Avoid foods seasoned with:

– Hot sauce or chili powder

– Black pepper

– Cajun or creole seasoning

– Garlic and onion

– Horseradish and mustard

Gas-producing foods

Foods known to cause gas and bloating can worsen cramps and diarrhea. Don’t eat:

– Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas

– Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale

– Onions and garlic

– Apples, pears, watermelon

– Sodas and carbonated drinks

High fiber foods

Fiber moves through your colon undigested, adding bulk. Limit high fiber foods like:

– Whole wheat or high fiber bread and cereals

– Raw fruits and vegetables with skins on

– Dried fruits like prunes, dates, and figs

– Popcorn, seeds, and nuts

– Brown rice and whole grains

– Tough, fibrous meats

Caffeine and alcohol

Caffeinated drinks like coffee, energy drinks, and some teas can stimulate the gut. Avoid alcohol as well, since this can worsen dehydration and stomach irritation.

Dairy products

Dairy products are difficult to digest for many people with GI inflammation and food poisoning. Avoid milk, ice cream, cheese, and other dairy until you recover.

Sample menu for recovering from food poisoning

Here is an example 1-day menu with foods that are good to eat after food poisoning. This menu provides nutrients and fluids while being gentle on your stomach.


– 1 cup decaffeinated tea

– 1 cup apple juice diluted with water

– 1 cup plain oatmeal cooked with extra water

– 2 scrambled egg whites

Mid-morning snack:

– 1 cup clear broth

– 4 unsalted crackers

– 1 cup herbal tea


– Baked or boiled skinless chicken breast, chopped into small pieces

– 1⁄2 cup boiled carrots

– 1 small baked potato plain with no skin

– Water to drink

Afternoon snack:

– 1 cup kefir

– 5 unsalted crackers

– Water or diluted fruit juice


– 3 ounces flaky baked fish like cod or tilapia

– 1⁄2 cup canned pears

– 1⁄2 cup cooked peas

– Herbal tea

Evening snack:

– 1 cup clear broth

– 1 plain rice cake

– Water

Tips for recovering after food poisoning

Here are some additional tips to help you bounce back faster after food poisoning:

– Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Opt for water, oral rehydration beverages, or diluted juices and broths.

– Go slow introducing solid foods. Stick with simple foods and small portions at first.

– Avoid fatty, spicy, or hard-to-digest foods until fully recovered.

– Take over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medicines as needed for diarrhea.

– Consider probiotic supplements to replenish healthy gut bacteria.

– Get plenty of rest to allow your body to heal.

– Wash hands frequently and disinfect kitchen surfaces to avoid reintroducing germs.

– See a doctor if symptoms last more than 3 days or are severe. You may need hydration therapy or antibiotics.

When to see a doctor after food poisoning

In otherwise healthy adults, mild food poisoning often resolves on its own without complications. Call your doctor if you experience:

– Fever over 101°F

– Bloody diarrhea

– Inability to keep down fluids due to vomiting

– Signs of severe dehydration like dizziness, decreased urination, or fainting

– Persistent diarrhea lasting over 3 days

– Severe abdominal pain or swelling

– Neurological symptoms like numbness, muscle weakness, or confusion

At-risk groups like seniors, infants, pregnant women, and those with health conditions should seek medical care right away for food poisoning. IV fluids, medications, or testing may be needed.

How long after food poisoning until you can eat normally again?

Acute food poisoning symptoms usually resolve within 48 hours, but the recovery time for your digestive system can take 3-7 days or longer. During this time, you’ll need to slowly reintroduce regular foods.

Here are general guidelines for how long to wait before returning to your normal diet after food poisoning:

– 24 hours: Clear liquids, oral rehydration beverages, broths, gelatin, popsicles, soda crackers

– 2 to 3 days: Plain rice, noodles, bread, crackers, boiled potatoes without skin, cooked carrots, canned fruits

– 4 to 5 days: Lean proteins like eggs, chicken, fish, tofu, mild dairy like yogurt and milk; soft, well-cooked fruits and vegetables

– 1 week: Raw produce and salads, high fiber whole grains and cereals, nuts, seeds, nut butters, fibrous meats

– 2+ weeks: Spicy foods, heavily seasoned dishes, alcohol, caffeinated drinks

The length of time depends on factors like how severe your food poisoning symptoms were, your age, and any underlying medical conditions. Work closely with your doctor if you have concerns.

Food poisoning prevention tips

Once you recover, you’ll of course want to avoid getting food poisoning again. Here are some key food safety practices to prevent contamination and reduce your risk:

– Wash hands thoroughly with soap before and after handling food.

– Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meats, poultry, and eggs away from ready-to-eat foods. Use separate cutting boards and utensils.

– Cook animal products like poultry, eggs, beef, pork, and seafood to safe internal temperatures high enough to kill pathogens.

– Chill leftovers promptly and store at 40°F or below. Do not leave perishable foods sitting out for more than 2 hours.

– Inspect food packaging for damage, expiration dates, and signs of tampering.

– Wash all fruits and vegetables under running water prior to eating, including those with skins and rinds on.

– When dining out, choose busy restaurants with high food turnover and hygienic practices. Avoid questionable food carts or street vendors.

– If you have a compromised immune system, avoid unpasteurized products, raw sprouts, uncooked eggs, and undercooked animal foods.

– When traveling, stick to bottled water and avoid raw vegetables, delis, buffets, tap water, and ice.

Practicing good personal and food hygiene will significantly lower your chances of recurring food poisoning. But if you develop symptoms again, remember to stick to a bland, gentle diet as you recover.


Food poisoning can really take a toll on your digestive system. Choosing the right foods to eat after food poisoning is key to replenishing your body with nutrients and avoiding further irritation. Focus on clear liquids, probiotics, mild starches, lean proteins, and low fiber fruits and vegetables. Avoid anything too heavy, fatty, spicy, or high in fiber or caffeine. Slowly work your way back up to your normal diet over several days. Seek medical care if you don’t improve or experience severe symptoms. Practicing good food safety and hygiene is also essential to prevent recurring food poisoning going forward. With rest and a proper recovery diet, your GI tract will be feeling back to normal before you know it.

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