Bland Diet: What is it and does it Work?

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A new day, a new diet program. The bland diet is a diet that is becoming increasingly popular. Despite the name, the foods you are permitted to eat are tasty and comforting for your gut. If you are dealing with gastrointestinal distress, eating a bland diet may help relieve heartburn, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. A bland diet can also be an effective way to treat peptic ulcers. Especially when coupled with certain lifestyle changes, such as lessening stress. We’ve scoped the internet so that you don’t have to, so let’s look into what the bland diet is and if it really works.

To fit the bill, bland foods are typically soft in texture, lower in fibre, higher in pH, and mildly seasoned. These factors help prevent an increase in acid production, reflux, or other irritation to your digestive tract. The best dietary approach for digestive symptoms is one that targets the root cause of your symptoms. Recommendations may vary from person to person. But generally, here is what you should eat, and what you should try to avoid.

Who is the diet recommended for?

Unless you have a pre-existing food allergy or intolerance, this diet is for you. The following foods are commonly recommended as part of a bland diet:

Low-Fat Dairy

  • low-fat or fat-free milk
  • yoghurt
  • mildly flavoured cheeses, such as cottage cheese

These low-fat dairy products are all good options.

Permitted Vegetables

  • beets, carrots, green beans
  • peas, white or sweet potatoes
  • spinach and pumpkin.

Some people can tolerate lettuce and other salad greens in moderation. However, it is best to exclude vegetables that cause gas, such as broccoli, kale, and brussels sprouts.

Low-Fibre Fruits

  • canned fruit, bananas, melon and avocadoes (even though they are high in fibre)

Processed Grains

  • white bread products
  • seedless rye
  • refined wheat products

These processed grain products are all good options.

If you don’t have an intolerance to gluten, then you can also include plain soda crackers, soft white pasta, cooked cereals, and cold cereals that are low in sugar.

Poultry, eggs, and fish are safe to eat as long as they are prepared with mild seasonings and little to no fat. If you have a sweet tooth, you can enjoy vanilla pudding, marshmallows, plain cookies, creamy peanut butter, and jelly too.

What are the foods to Avoid?

When it comes to foods that you should avoid, these include high-fat dairy products such as whole milk, whipped cream, ice-cream and bleu cheese. Certain vegetables, like the ones listed above, as well as onions, garlic, peppers, and cabbage. Seeded and acidic fruit such as berries, grapes, prunes, oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits. Whole grains such as sprouted wheat bread, grain breads, whole wheat pasta, and any product with added fibre Fatty meats, beans, and fatty fish should also be avoided. Alcohol is also a no go.

The goal of a bland diet is to give the digestive system a rest. For people experiencing a flare of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, a bland, low fibre diet may help reduce the number and size of bowel movements. For people with gastrointestinal irritation, eliminating foods that create stomach acid can help prevent further irritation. 

The Conclusion

There have not been many scientific studies regarding the effectiveness of a bland diet. A bland diet is only recommended for a short time when necessary. Due to this lack of evidence, the American College of Gastroenterology does not routinely suggest this diet but does say that an elimination diet could be beneficial on an individual basis. One main risk of the bland diet is constipation, as you are limiting your fibre intake, which helps promote regular bowel movements.

A bland diet doesn’t supply all of the nutrition your body needs in the long term. If you are considering undertaking this diet, talk with your doctor about how long you should stay on this type of eating plan. Your doctor can also advise you on when to reintroduce different foods or food groups.

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