Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Chronic Diarrhea in Children

How can what a child eats help prevent or treat chronic diarrhea?

Eating, diet, and nutrition play a major role in treating chronic diarrhea in children. Depending on the cause, changing what your child eats can reduce or stop chronic diarrhea. Changing what your child eats may also help manage symptoms of some of the causes of chronic diarrhea. Talk with your child’s doctor before changing what he or she eats. Your child’s doctor or a dietitian can recommend a healthy eating plan that is right for your child.

A young boy sitting at a table eating.
Eating, diet, and nutrition play a major role in treating chronic diarrhea in children.

What should a child with chronic diarrhea eat?

A child with chronic diarrhea should eat foods that may improve symptoms and ensure good nutrition for normal growth and development.

Children whose chronic diarrhea was caused by an infection of the digestive tract should eat the foods they normally eat. If your child has long-lasting problems digesting certain carbohydrates or proteins after an infection, talk with your child’s doctor about what foods your child should eat.

Increasing the amount of fat and fiber your child eats may improve symptoms of toddler’s diarrhea.

What should a child with chronic diarrhea avoid eating?

What foods your child should avoid eating depends on the cause of chronic diarrhea. In general, your child should avoid foods that make symptoms worse.

To find out if certain foods trigger your child’s symptoms, keep a diary and track

  • what your child eats each day
  • what symptoms your child has
  • when the symptoms occur
  • what foods make the symptoms worse

Take your notes to your child’s doctor and talk about which foods seem to make your child’s symptoms worse. Your child may need to avoid these foods or eat less of them.

A woman making notes in a food diary.
To find out if certain foods trigger your child’s symptoms, keep a diary of what your child eats and what foods make the symptoms worse.

More information on what your child should eat or avoid eating if he or she has chronic diarrhea caused by certain digestive tract problems is available in these NIDDK health topics:

February 2017
Share

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Mark Donowitz, M.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine