Scientifically, the stomach flu is known as viral gastroenteritis. It is a highly contagious infection that affects your stomach and intestines.

Norovirus results in an estimated 21 millionTrusted Source cases yearly in the United States. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramping, and abdominal pain.

If you have stomach flu, certain foods and beverages may help settle your stomach, prevent further complications, and help you bounce back faster.

Here are 17 foods and drinks for when you have the stomach flu.

1. Ice chips

The most commonTrusted Source complication of the stomach flu is dehydration.

When you have the stomach flu, it can be difficult to keep anything down, including water and other liquids. Though hydration is crucial when you have this virus, drinking too much at once may worsen nausea and vomiting.

Sucking on ice chips is a great place to start because it prevents you from consuming liquids too quickly. This may help you keep fluids down and stay better hydrated in the early stages of the stomach flu.

2. Clear liquids

Diarrhea and vomiting are common symptomsTrusted Source of the stomach flu. They can quickly lead to dehydration if you do not replace lost fluids.

Clear liquids mainly contain water, while some also have sugar. They are usually easierTrusted Source to digest than drinks like orange juice and milk, which are not considered clear liquids.

Clear liquids include:

  • water
  • broth
  • oral rehydration solutions, such as Pedialyte
  • herbal or decaffeinated teas
  • clear fruit juices, such as apple, cranberry, and grape juice
  • sports drinks
  • coconut water

Remember that fruit juices and sports drinks can be very high in sugar, so it’s important to avoid drinking too much of these beverages at once. Also, avoid giving them to infants and young children without professional guidance since they may worsen diarrhea.

3. Electrolyte beverages

Electrolytes are a group of electrically charged minerals that aid critical bodily functions, such as blood pressure regulation and muscle contraction.

Replacing lost fluids and electrolytes is the cornerstone of stomach flu treatment.

At the first onset of diarrhea and vomiting, health professionals often recommendTrusted Source oral rehydration solutions, especially for infants and children. These contain water, sugar, and electrolytes in specific proportions that are easy to digest.

Sports drinks are another option to help replenish fluids and electrolytes, but are typically higher in sugar. Researchers suggestTrusted Source they may be as effective as oral rehydration solutions at treating adult dehydration.

4. Peppermint tea

Peppermint tea may help relieve stomach flu symptoms. Just the smell of peppermint may reduceTrusted Source nausea.

In one 2014 studyTrusted Source including 26 people who experienced nausea after surgery, smelling peppermint oil while doing deep breathing exercises helped relieve nausea.

While studies on the benefits of peppermint tea for stomach flu specifically are lacking, there is little to lose by trying it. At the very least, peppermint tea is a potential source of much-needed fluids when you have the stomach flu.

5. Ginger

Ginger is commonly used to alleviate nausea, a primary symptom of the stomach flu.

Though research on ginger for nausea from the stomach flu specifically is lacking, studies have found that ginger helped reduce nausea due to pregnancyTrusted Sourcecancer treatmentTrusted Source, and motion sicknessTrusted Source.

Ginger is available fresh, as a spice, or as an ingredient in teas, ginger ale, and candies.

Concentrated amounts of ginger can be found in syrups, capsules, and tinctures. However, it may be best to avoid concentrated sources because ginger may cause diarrhea in high doses.

Instead, try grating fresh ginger root into a soup or brewing it as a tea to relieve nausea if you have the stomach flu.

6. Broth-based soups

The American College of Gastroenterology recommends broth and broth-based soups as a first choice if you’re experiencing diarrhea and transitioning back to eating.

Broth-based soups have a very high water content, which can help with hydration during the stomach flu.

They’re also an excellent source of sodium, an electrolyte that can quickly become depleted with frequent vomiting and diarrhea.

For example, 1 cup (240 mL) of a typical chicken noodle soup is about 90% water and providesTrusted Source roughly 32% of the average daily value (DV) for sodium.

7–10. Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast

Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast are the foundation of the BRAT diet. Health professionals recommend these bland foods for stomach complaints because they’re fairly gentle.

Remember that the BRAT diet alone will not give your body all the nutrients it needs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendsTrusted Source that children return to their usual age-appropriate diets as soon as they are rehydrated.

Nonetheless, bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast are safe options when queasy from the stomach flu.

11–13. Dry cereal, crackers, and pretzels

Dry foods like cereal, plain crackers, and pretzels are also options. Since they’re free of spices, low in fat, and low in fiber, they’re gentle on your stomach.

They’re also made up of simple carbs, which your body quickly and easily digests.

Moreover, these refined grains are often fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, which may help you get closer to meeting your daily nutrient needs while you have the stomach flu.

14. Plain potatoes

Bland foods like plain, boiled potatoes are great options when you have the stomach flu.

Plain potatoes are soft, low in fat, and made up of easily digestible starches. They’re also loaded with potassium, one of the primary electrolytes lost from vomiting and diarrhea.

Just 1 medium potato, or 167 grams (g), providesTrusted Source about 12% of the DV for potassium.

Avoid adding high fat toppings, such as butter, cheese, and sour cream. These can worsen diarrhea. Instead, consider seasoning your potatoes with a dash of salt because sodium can become depleted during the stomach flu.

15. Eggs

Eggs are a nutritious choice when you have the stomach flu.

When prepared with minimal added fat, dairy, and spices, eggs are easy on your stomach.

They’re also an excellent source of protein, with 6 g per large egg, and provideTrusted Source other nutrients, like B vitamins and selenium, which is a mineral that’s importantTrusted Source for your immune system.

Avoid frying eggs in oil, butter, or lard, as high fat may worsenTrusted Source your diarrhea.

16. Low-fat poultry and meat

Your body may better tolerate lean poultry and meats than high fat options when you have the stomach flu. Lean choices include:

  • skinless, white-meat cuts of chicken and turkey
  • extra-lean ground chicken, turkey, and beef
  • low fat cold cuts (lunch meat), such as chicken, turkey, and ham
  • extra-lean cuts of beef, such as top sirloin and eye of round steak
  • pork chops with the fat trimmed off

Avoid frying the meat and instead opt for baking, roasting, or grilling to help keep the fat content low and prevent making your upset stomach worse.

17. Fruit

When you have the stomach flu, replenishing fluids is a top priority.

Beverages aren’t the only option for hydration. In fact, many fruits are 80–90% water. The following are some of the fruits highest in water:

Fruits also provide abundant vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and vitamins A and C.

However, many whole fruits are high in fiber, making them difficult to digest. Cooked fruits like applesauce may be easier to tolerate.

Food and drinks to avoid

Some foods and beverages may worsen nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other stomach flu symptoms. Consider avoiding the following:

  • Caffeinated beverages: Caffeine can impairTrusted Source sleep quality, which may get in the way of recovery. Coffee stimulates your digestion and may worsenTrusted Source diarrhea.
  • High fat and fried foods: High-fat foods are more difficult to digest and may leadTrusted Source to diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Spicy foods: Spicy foods may triggerTrusted Source nausea and vomiting in some people.
  • Sugary foods and beverages: High sugar may worsen diarrhea, especially in children.
  • Milk and milk products: When sick with the stomach flu, some people have troubleTrusted Source digesting lactose, a sugar in milk and milk products. In some cases, this side effect can last up to a month or more.
The bottom line

When you have the stomach flu, keeping down foods and beverages can be difficult.

Ice chips, clear liquids, and electrolyte beverages are good places to start. They can help you replenish fluids and electrolytes.

Until you can tolerate your usual diet, bland options like soups, refined grains, and plain potatoes are safer choices. Eggs and unsweetened applesauce may also be easier to digest.

Allowing your body to rest, staying hydrated, and trying some foods on this list may help you recover more quickly.