Most of the time, people facing the conditions of gastrointestinal inflammation from infections, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or acid reflux and peptic ulcer require a specific food recommendation and a diet that can ease the symptoms of such conditions and can help in treating the underlying causes behind these. In such conditions, doctors usually recommend a bland diet. So, the question arises what a bland diet is?
A bland diet, a form of gastrointestinal soft and low-residue diets, is a type of diet including low-fibre foods that are soft, low in fat and spices, and easy to chew and digest, having mild flavours. A bland diet has a soft consistency and is gentle in the digestive system, which can be easily digested by people facing various kinds of gastrointestinal disorders and helps treat the underlying causes behind such disorders.
A bland diet helps treat the symptoms of heartburn, vomiting, diarrhoea, and nausea in those suffering from gastrointestinal distress. A bland diet effectively treats and cures ulcers with certain lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress and maintaining dietary habits.
Bland diets are helpful for such purposes as they can be modified into a tastier version and comforts the gut. A bland diet is soft, having lower amounts of fibre and higher in ph. These essential factors help prevent the increase of acid production and acid reflux and prevent irritation in the digestive tract.
Treating the root cause of gastrointestinal problems is the best way to cure them, and adopting certain lifestyle changes and dietary approaches can help in this regard.
Foods Allowed on a Bland Diet:
- Low fat or fat-free milk and dairy products
- Cooked, canned and frozen vegetables in soft form
- Potatoes in steamed or baked form
- Canned fruits in a soft form such as melons, bananas
- Fruits and vegetables having a low ph
- Cereals and bread are made up of refined options such as white flour
- Tender and lean sources of meat like poultry, whitefish
- Grilled or baked fish with no fat
- Creamy peanut butter without any crunch
- Custard and puddings
- Gelatin and popsicles
- Broths and soups
- Weak tea
Foods Not Allowed in a Bland Diet:
- High-fat dairy products such as whipped ice-cream
- Strong versions of cheese such as Roquefort cheese
- The raw form of vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, and green peppers
- Dried fruits such as nuts like almonds, pistachios, cashews
- Whole grain cereals and grains like whole-grain pasta and bread
- Pickles and other fermented foods
- Food items having a lot of sugar content in them
- Smoked and highly seasoned meats and fish
- Tough and fibrous meats
- All sorts of fried foods
- Alcoholic beverages and caffeine drinks
Sample Menu for Bland Diet:
|Breakfast||Food items||Amount||Carbs (g)||Proteins (g)||Fats (g)||Calories (kcal)|
|Brown bread||2 piece|
|Whole Wheat flatten bread||100g||71.2g||12.1g||1.5g||346.7kcals|
Relation of Various Food Groups with The Bland Diet:
|Food groups||Foods to Include|
|Milk and milk products||Low-fat milk and low-fat yoghurt Alternatives of milk such as rice, soy or almond milk|
|Fruits and vegetables||Canned or bottled fruits and vegetables in moderation Diluted fruit juice Cooked vegetables until very soft|
|Bread and Grains||Potatoes, crackers, pasta, rice, bread, plain cereals|
|Meat and meat products||Roasted or baked poultry without skin Smooth nut butter|
|Fats and oils||Healthy oils including olive oil but in moderation|
|Food groups||Food to avoid|
|Milk and milk products||Full fat milk and full-fat yoghurt Cheese Cream Dairy-based ice-cream|
|Fruits and vegetables||Raw, steamed and fried vegetables Fresh, raw and frozen fruits Unpasteurized juices|
|Bread and cereals||Any product from this group has more than 5g of fiber per serving|
|Meat and meat products||Poultry with skin Fried meat, poultry and shellfish Fatty or marbled meat|
|Fats and oils||Butter Mayonnaise|
|Beverages||Alcohol Caffeinated beverages Cream-based beverages|
Relation of the Bland Diet with Food Groups:
Bread and Cereals Group:
The bread and cereals group is the major source of carbohydrate intake and energy production of the body. It is recommended to consume six to eight servings from this food group. The number of servings from this food group depends on the daily caloric requirement of the person.
It is recommended to choose refined grains and cereals from this food group, such as refined bread and pasta like white bread, white pasta, white rice, saltine crackers, and mashed potatoes, which help ease the digestion during a bland diet. Such food items from this group are lower in fibre intake, which is a requirement of a bland diet. Try to consume meals in small and frequent amounts to improve tolerance.
Fruits and Vegetable Group:
It is recommended to consume three to four servings from fruit and four to five servings from vegetable portions. Fruits and vegetables in raw form are not included in a bland diet, and they must remove their peels and seeds to consume them.
Fruits like applesauce, canned fruits like peaches and pears, bananas and mild juices like grapes and apples are allowed. In the same way, vegetables like cooked, canned or frozen items like carrots, beans, zucchini are allowed. Try to avoid gas-producing vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
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Milk and Milk Products:
From this food group, three to four servings are recommended according to daily caloric intake. A person can consume all sorts of low-fat choices from this group can be consumed and fat-free choices. Items included are low-fat milk and yoghurt, mild cheeses like Colby and Muenster.
Avoid all sorts of products made up of chocolate as they can exacerbate the symptoms of a bland diet.
Meat and Meat Products:
It is recommended to consume three to five servings of meat and meat products in daily calories intake. Choose the lean and tender portions of meat without any bones or fat. Soft cooked eggs and tofu are also meat substitutes and are best for a bland diet. Baked and grilled fish and poultry are also good examples.
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Indications of a Bland Diet
A bland diet is ideal for patients suffering from chronic gastritis, reflux disorders like dyspepsia, haemorrhoids, and hyperacidity. A bland diet helps manage and treat peptic ulcers and symptoms like heartburn, nausea, vomiting and flatulence.
The bland diet works on a mechanism of action in which the peristaltic activity of the gastrointestinal tract is decreased and prevents irritation.
Guidelines of a Bland Diet:
A bland diet includes a series of guidelines as explained below:
Before changing to a bland diet, B in the bland diet always consult the healthcare provider regarding the menu development. Bland diet needs a specific sort of preparation and requires thinking ahead in preparing the diet.
L in the bland diet means LEARN SPECIFIC THINGS TO CONSIDER. During preparing a bland diet, a person must consider the following things: intolerance to certain food items, an individual’s lifestyle, and avoidance of usage of food items that act like gastric irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, and pepper.
A in bland diet means ASSESS YOUR NUTRITIONAL NEEDS. This includes assessing the nutritional needs before following any dietary regimen and consult a healthcare provider.
N in the bland diet means NEVER EAT ANXIOUSLY. It means that avoid eating food in an anxious or stressed state. Gastric secretion increases during a stress condition. Always eat food in a relaxed manner.
D in the bland diet means DO NOT EAT THE FOLLOWING FOODS. A specific list of food items is always recommended in which those food items are mentioned which are not allowed in a bland diet such as sauces, instant noodles and chips, string cheese, fatty foods, raw vegetables and fruits, dried fruits, all sort of whole wheat bread and cereals, garlic and pepper, Foods containing much sugar, smoked meat and fish.
D in a diet means DIETITIAN will always provide the proper guidelines to follow a specific food plan, including a healthy diet.
I in diet means IDENTIFY THE STRESSORS. It means avoiding all sorts of stress-causing means which upset the mealtime. Stress increases gastrin secretion.
E in the diet means EAGERLY OBSERVE THE TOLERANCE FOR FOOD. This means that observing your tolerance limit yourself regarding food items such as food effects vary from person to person. It is essential to know regarding your digestive system which food items it can bear or tolerate.
T in the diet means THE LIST OF FOODS ALLOWED. A specific food list is followed for a bland diet, including the food items such as low-fat milk products, canned or soft vegetables and fruits:
- refined bread and cereal products
- soft puddings and custards
- soups and broths
Benefits of a Bland Diet:
- A person can consume a bland diet for treating underlying medical condition symptoms and cannot be compared with a regular and balanced diet as it is low in nutrients. Still, a bland diet has benefits which include:
- A bland diet is beneficial for treating bacterial food poisoning. It is better to consume a bland diet first and then slowly return to the normal diet after two to three days.
- A bland diet is also beneficial during gastroenteritis which is infectious diarrhoea. A bland diet is given in such disease as it is easy to tolerate this diet.
- It also proves beneficial during an upset stomach and helps cure symptoms such as the decreased desire to eat.
- A bland diet is also good for treating hyperemesis gravidarum, known as morning sickness. It involves nausea and vomiting, and consuming soft and frequent meals help in treating nausea.
- It is the best option from diets and is recommended highly for gastric surgery and gastrointestinal bowel disease. It helps cure the symptoms and relieve Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and diverticulitis. Before surgery, the Bland diet can clean the colon and intestine.
Uses of a Bland Diet:
- Although some people consider that a bland diet is difficult to maintain, it is still beneficial in recovering from gastrointestinal conditions and other medical circumstances. Using a bland diet before surgery and after surgery is recommended as it is low in spices. Its creamy and soft texture helps the digestive system recover slowly but effectively.
- It is not an effective weight loss diet and is not recommended to follow on a long-term basis. However, still, it is a good option for people suffering from ulcers, heartburn, nausea, stomach and intestinal surgery.
- A bland diet includes all food groups and does not restrict any food group.
- Foods from each group are consumed in variations such as from milk group, low-fat milk options, and a person can consume milk products in a bland diet. Similarly, a person can consume all soft and cooked vegetables and soft fruits like bananas, carrots, and baked potatoes in a bland diet from the fruits and vegetable group.
- The meat and proteins group is difficult to maintain as there is much variety available in such groups. A person can consume a linear and delicate portion of meat and avoid chewy meat to irritate the symptoms.
- Avoiding all sorts of spices and coarse meals is not a part of a bland diet in this way; it is good for older adults.
Issues of Concern for a Bland Diet:
- Bland diet holds several barriers which could prevent the patient from sticking to the bland diet. The main thing is fewer spices and soft texture; some patients find bland diets unpalatable and unsatisfying.
- Patients also need to pay special attention to certain items as these items are the issue of concern. Avoid consuming alcohol or caffeine intake as they can trigger GERD symptoms and increases acid reflux.
- Chocolate, mint, spicy foods, garlic, tomatoes and some citrus fruits also worsen the reflux action and cause the lower oesophagal sphincter to relax, resulting in gastrointestinal complaints.
- Pay special attention to portion control and volume eating as a bland diet can result in nutritional deficiencies in some cases.
- Avoid lying down right after consuming a meal also triggers GERD symptoms. Chew the food in case of soft foods swallow them slowly.
General Tips for People Following a Bland Diet:
Here are some general tips for people following a bland diet that can help manage GERD symptoms.
- Eat small and frequent meals. Try to consume meals during the daytime rather than munching at night time to avoid delayed gastric emptying.
- Chew the food slowly and properly, which helps in the proper digestion of food.
- If you are a smoker, stop smoking cigarettes as they trigger GERD symptoms and causes acidic reflux.
- Try to stop consuming meals before three hours of bedtime. This helps in the proper digestion of food.
- Do not consume food items from the food groups which are not allowed.
- Try to engage in some light walk after meals so a person can properly digest that food.
Bland Diet and BRAT Diet:
The BRAT diet is often mixed with BLAND DIET, but the truth is that there is much difference between both of these diets. BRAT is an acronym that means banana, rice, applesauce and toast. This type of diet is given to the patients suffering from diarrhoea and includes all those foods which provide bulk to stool.
The bulkier stool resolves the symptoms associated with diarrhoea and helps in treating it. Bananas in this diet are the richest source of potassium and are quite helpful in treating diarrhoea. A patient might lose large amounts of potassium from the body during diarrhoea, so the banana helps compensate for those needs. It is recommended not to follow the BRAT diet for a longer period as it is inadequate.
Recipe Substitutes of Bland Diet:
Instead of adding black pepper to chicken, try to consume thyme, which is a hern that does not irritate.
Replace the nutmeg with cinnamon to reduce the spicy taste.
Substitute the crunchy nuts in desserts with nut butter for adding flavour and taste.
Avoid raw fruits and consume fruits in pureed or sauce form.
Avoid caffeinated products; replace them; use herbal teas, coconut water, or sparkling water.
Replace all the fried items with mashed or boiled products like potatoes.
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