written by: Amy Carson
• edited by: Donna Cosmato
• updated: 10/11/2010
Stomach problems or surgery might have you looking into a bland diet for yourself, or your doctor has recommended you begin following one. Here's the lowdown on what a bland diet is, a list of bland foods to eat, and handy tips to keep you on track.
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What is a Bland Diet?
A bland diet is comprised of foods that do not irritate the digestive tract of most people. It is soft, low in fiber, and not too spicy. This makes the diet easy to digest and gentle on the stomach. The goal is to eat a diet that will not cause stomach upset or make you feel unwell.
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Why a Bland Diet may be Necessary
A bland diet is called for in any number of health care situations. After surgery, your physician may recommend a bland diet for a period of time, especially after surgery on the digestive tract, such as in the area of the intestines or stomach.
Many conditions associated with digestion may also mean a bland diet is indicated. If you suffer from gas, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, ulcers or vomiting, you might want to follow a long-term bland diet.
There are ramifications of following a bland diet for a long time. For instance, because it's low in fiber, you become more susceptible to diverticulosis and diverticulitis, and developing constipation is possible. You may also find yourself limiting your diet so much that you may be missing out on certain vitamins, minerals, or trace elements. Remember to consult your physician before making any major dietary changes, and follow their recommendations.
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Foods to Eat on a Bland Diet
Here is a list of many foods commonly found in the bland diet. All of these foods are gentle on the gastrointestinal tract. They are chosen because they are soft and low in fiber, while also being nutritional. Note that sweets like pudding and refined grains like white bread are not as nutrient-dense as many of the other foods on this list.
Milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, and other dairy – all low-fat versions
Lean proteins – chicken and turkey, white fish, shellfish cooked without added fat
Peanut butter – creamy only
Refined grains – white breads, white rice, oatmeal, pasta, cream of wheat, crackers
Soup and broth
Fruits, skins and seeds removed, cooked or canned only – applesauce, peaches, pears, mixed fruit
Vegetables, frozen, canned, or cooked
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Foods to Avoid on a Bland Diet
It can help to remember which foods to avoid on a bland diet. Fried foods, spicy foods, raw fruits and vegetables, and dry beans, for example, must all be avoided. Also avoid full-fat cheeses and high-fat foods like ice cream and whipped cream. Gas-producing vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli should probably be avoided as well. Foods that require a lot of digestive work like whole grains, seeds and nuts are also a bad idea for a bland diet.
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Tips for Following a Bland Diet
It's impossible to be perfect all the time. If you've been put on a bland diet, work on making lean proteins, cooked or canned vegetables and fruits, and low-fat dairy products the centerpiece of your diet, along with refined grains like white bread and the rest of the acceptable list. It may be okay to have foods from the avoid list from time to time — sparingly, but pay attention to how your body reacts and respond accordingly. If a food makes you feel unwell, make a mental note to stop eating it.
Refer to this list of bland foods to eat and tips if you're following a bland diet or your physician has recommended you begin doing so. Make sure to avoid spicy, fried, and fatty foods while eating foods from the approved list and you'll do fine.
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Bland diet: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000068.htm
Available Diet Orders at the University of Michigan Health Systems: http://www.med.umich.edu/clinical/images/available-diet-orders-at-umhs.pdf