A bland diet can be used to treat ulcers, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and gas. You may also need a bland diet after stomach or intestinal surgery.
A bland diet includes foods that are soft, not very spicy, and low in fiber. If you are on a bland diet, you should not eat spicy, fried, or raw foods. You should not drink alcohol or drinks with caffeine in them.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when you can start eating other foods again. It is still important to eat healthy foods when you add foods back in. Your doctor can refer you to a dietitian or nutritionist to help you plan a healthy diet.
Foods you can eat
Foods you can eat on a bland diet include:
Milk and other dairy products, low-fat only
Cooked, canned, or frozen vegetables
Fruit juices and vegetable juices
Cooked or canned fruit with the skin and seeds removed, such as applesauce or canned peaches
Breads, crackers, and pasta made with refined white flour
Refined, hot cereals, such as Cream of Wheat (farina cereal)
Lean, tender meats, such as poultry, whitefish, and shellfish that are steamed, baked, or grilled with no added fat
Creamy peanut butter
Pudding and custard
Soup, especially broth
Foods to avoid
Some foods you should not eat when you are on a bland diet are:
Fatty dairy foods, such as whipped cream or high-fat ice cream
Strong cheeses, such as bleu or Roquefort cheese
Vegetables that make you gassy, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, green peppers, and corn
Fresh berries and other fresh fruits
Whole-grain or bran cereals
Whole-grain breads, crackers, or pasta
Pickles, sauerkraut, and similar foods
Spices, such as hot pepper and garlic
Foods with a lot of sugar or honey in them
Seeds and nuts
Highly seasoned, cured or smoked meats and fish
You should also avoid medicine that contains aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).
Other diet tips
When you are on a bland diet:
Eat small meals, and eat more often during the day
Chew your food slowly, and chew it well
Stop smoking cigarettes, if you smoke
Do not eat within 2 hours of your bedtime
Don't eat foods that are on the "foods to avoid" list, especially if you do not feel well after eating them
Drink fluids slowly
Noel MB, Thompson M, Wadland WC, Holtrop JS. Nutrition and family medicine. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 37.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.