The Bland Diet: for Gastrointestinal Disorders

The bland diet, also referred to as the soft diet, is created specifically to decrease peristalsis and to avoid irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. It can be beneficial for people with peptic ulcer disease, chronic gastritis, reflux esophagitis and dyspepsia. It is also used occasionally in the treatment of hiatal hernia. The bland diet can also be helpful for those experiencing occasional nausea or vomiting. It is designed primarily to help patients recover from these conditions or other medical circumstances in which improved digestion would be essential. Even though portion sizes are strictly controlled, the bland diet is not particularly effective as a long-term weight loss diet. Many people find the bland diet to be very difficult to maintain. The use of acceptable spice alternatives can help to make the diet easier. Most patients will slowly return to a more normal diet once their medical issues have been resolved.

The Diet

The bland diet consists of foods that are easily digestible, seasoned mildly, low in fiber and acidity, and tender. The diet eliminates fried foods, highly seasoned foods, and most raw or gas-forming fruits and vegetables. Drinks containing alcohol and Xanthine are also to be avoided. In order to maintain a balanced diet, an appropriate number of servings allowed for each food group should be consumed on a daily basis.

Foods to Include

  • All milk and milk products
  • All fats and oils
  • Mild cheeses and cottage cheese
  • Cooked, frozen, or canned vegetables
  • Lettuce in small amounts
  • Cooked or canned fruit without skins, seeds or tough fibers
  • Avocado, banana, and citrus without membrane
  • All lean, tender meats, poultry, fish and shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Smooth nut butters
  • Tofu and other meat substitutes
  • Mildly seasoned meat stock, broth bouillon, or cream soups made with allowed foods
  • Butter or fortified margarine
  • Mild salad dressings such as mayonnaise, French or vinegar and oil
  • White, refined wheat, and seedless rye breads
  • Plain white rolls, white melba toast, matzo, english muffin, bagel, pita bread, and tortilla
  • Couscous
  • Saltine, graham, soda or plain crackers
  • Cooked, refined cereals such as cream of wheat, oatmeal, farina, and cream of rice
  • Dry corn and rice cereals such as puffed rice or corn flakes
  • Potatoes
  • Enriched rice, barley, noodles, spaghetti, macaroni, and other pastas
  • Pepper, herbs, spices, ketchup, mustard and vinegar in moderation
  • Sugar, syrup, honey, jelly, hard candies, plain chocolate, molasses and marshmallows
  • Iodized salts
  • Cakes, cookies, pies, puddings, custard, ice cream, sherbet, and Jell-O made with allowed foods
  • Herb teas
  • Fruit juices and mildly flavored vegetable juices

Foods to Avoid

  • Raw vegetables, dried peas, beans and corn
  • Gas forming vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, onions, cauliflower, cucumber, green pepper, rutabagas, turnips and sauerkraut
  • Berries and figs
  • Whole grain and coarse cereals such as bran
  • Seeds in or on breads and crackers
  • Bread or bread products with nuts or dried fruit
  • Potato chips, fried potatoes, and wild rice
  • Highly seasoned, cured or smoked meats
  • Poultry or fish such as corned beef, luncheon meats, frankfurter and other sausages
  • Sardine anchovies
  • Strong flavored cheeses
  • Chunky peanut butter
  • Highly seasoned salad dressings with seeds or pickle relish
  • All sweets and desserts containing nuts, coconut or fruit
  • Fried pastries, such as doughnuts
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Strongly flavored seasonings and condiments such as garlic, barbecue sauce, chili sauce, chili pepper, horseradish, pepper and chili powder
  • Pickles, seed spices olives
  • Popcorn, nuts and coconut

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