The bland meals your significant other always makes you shouldn’t be confused with those of a bland diet — but they may be similar.
A bland diet consists of foods that are easy to break down and digest.
The diet can be used to alleviate uncomfortable digestive symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain, which are associated with various conditions like gastritis, ulcers, and diverticulitis.
This article explains the conditions for which a bland diet may be helpful, foods to eat and avoid on the diet, and provides a 3-day sample bland diet menu.
What is a bland diet?
A bland diet consists of foods that are easily digestible and mild in flavor.
Easily digestible foods are generally low in fat and fiber.
The goal of the bland diet is to give the digestive tract rest and limit irritation to its lining.
In this way, a bland diet may help alleviate digestive problems, such as diarrhea, bloating, and stomach pain.
A bland diet may be helpful for various digestive conditions including (1):
- Crohn’s disease
- ulcerative colitis
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- food poisoning
It’s also used to transition patients back to a regular diet following surgery, such as gallbladder removal surgery.
There are several variations of a bland diet — in part because the definition of bland isn’t well defined.
A common form of a bland diet is the BRAT diet.
BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, which are the foods allowed on the BRAT diet.
Another example is the low fiber, fat limited exclusion (LOFFLEX) diet, which is used to treat Crohn’s disease.
Although a bland diet can be nutritionally adequate when planned carefully, it isn’t a long-term solution for digestive problems but it can be used in the short-term — usually a few days to one week — to help you feel better.
If your symptoms persist or worsen after one week, you should talk with your doctor.
Like us, dogs and cats can also be put on a bland diet to treat diarrhea or vomiting or as a transition to regular foods following surgery.
Foods to eat
The types of foods approved for a bland diet vary, but they are generally they are mostly soft, low in fat and fiber, and bland in flavor.
Bland foods to eat include:
- Fruits: applesauce, canned soft fruit in juice, ripe bananas, and juice, except prune juice
- Vegetables: most well-cooked vegetables without seeds, skins, or stems including regular or sweet potatoes, and strained vegetable juice
- Grains: bread, crackers, and pasta made from white or refined flour, cream of wheat, cream of rice, refined grits, white rice, and puffed cereals
- Proteins: eggs, tofu, skinless chicken, water-packed tuna and other fish, and tender, well-cooked meats like plain hamburger
- Dairy: low-fat milk, yogurt, and plant-based alternatives
- Beverages: broths, caffeine-free coffee or tea
- Condiments and seasonings: honey, jelly, and mild seasonings including salt, paprika, coriander, and cinnamon
You may be able to tolerate foods rich in fats like butter, nut butter, and avocado in small amounts, but it may be best to limit them as much as you can while following the diet.
Foods to avoid
The bland diet restricts fatty and fibrous foods as well as spicy or fatty condiments and seasonings.
Examples of foods to avoid on a bland diet include:
- Fruits: fresh or dried fruit, juice with pulp, and citrus fruits like oranges, limes, and lemons
- Vegetables: raw vegetables, and cooked broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, greens, and onions
- Whole grains: whole-grain bread, rice, pasta, or crackers, barley, oats, quinoa, popcorn, and cold cereals made from whole grains
- Poultry: skin-on chicken and fried eggs
- Meats: fatty cuts of beef, including filet mignon, porterhouse, ribeye, and New York strip
- Processed meats: lunch meat, hot dogs, ham, bologna, sausage, etc.
- Legumes: beans, peas, and lentils
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, flaxseed, walnuts, nut butter, etc.
- Dairy: whole-fat dairy, flavored milk, ice cream, and yogurt with fruit, granola, or nuts
- Fried foods: chicken strips, cheese sticks, french fries, etc.
- Condiments: spices, mayonnaise, and fatty sauces, gravies, and dressings
- Beverages: coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and alcohol
- Other: chocolate, bakery items, and desserts
3-day sample bland diet menu
Avoid consuming large meals. Instead, eat 5–6 smaller meals throughout the day.
Here’s a 3-day sample bland diet menu with a vegan option:
- Breakfast: cream of wheat and scrambled eggs
- Snack: Greek yogurt and canned peaches
- Lunch: roasted chicken with potatoes and steamed asparagus tips
- Snack: low-fat cottage cheese on white toast and apple sauce
- Dinner: baked tilapia and sweet potato with honey
Day 2 (vegan)
- Breakfast: plain tofu scramble with white toast
- Snack: English muffin with reconstituted powdered peanut butter
- Lunch: soy yogurt with peaches
- Snack: vegan protein shake with a ripe banana
- Dinner: carrot and coriander soup without onions, cream, or other non-bland items
- Breakfast: puffed cereal and canned peaches
- Snack: protein shake with a ripe banana
- Lunch: homemade chicken noodle soup
- Snack: low-fat cottage cheese on white toast
- Dinner: pork loin, white rice, and cooked carrots
The bottom line
A bland diet is made up of foods that are low in fiber and fat and not very spicey.
It can help relieve digestive symptoms associated with various disorders and conditions, like diarrhea, gastritis, and diverticulitis, among other conditions.
It may also be used to transition you to a normal diet following surgery, such as gallbladder removal surgery.
You can follow the bland diet until you feel better, usually for a few days or up to one week.