Understanding the BRAT Diet for Children: Is It Still Recommended?

When children experience gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, vomiting, or an upset stomach, parents often seek safe dietary options to ease their symptoms. One traditional approach has been the BRAT diet, which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. This bland-food diet is thought to be gentle on the stomach, but as our understanding of nutrition evolves, so do the recommendations for managing childhood digestive issues. In this post, we’ll explore the BRAT diet, its effectiveness, and how DNA testing can play a role in tailoring nutrition to your child’s needs.

The BRAT Diet Explained

The BRAT diet is composed of low-fiber, easily digestible foods that are low in fat and protein. The logic behind the diet is that bland foods will not irritate the stomach and will help reduce the volume of stools. Here’s a closer look at the components:

  • Bananas: Rich in potassium, they help restore nutrients lost during vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Rice: White rice is high in carbohydrates and easy to digest, providing energy without strain on the digestive system.
  • Applesauce: The pectin in applesauce can help firm up stools. It is also a mild source of vitamins and is gentle on the stomach.
  • Toast: Plain toast, without butter or jam, provides some calories and is bland enough not to upset the stomach.

Is the BRAT Diet Effective?

While the BRAT diet is often well-tolerated during acute bouts of illness, it is nutritionally incomplete. It lacks sufficient protein, fat, and a variety of vitamins and minerals necessary for recovery. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other health organizations now advise that children return to their normal diet as soon as possible, including adequate protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates, to prevent malnutrition and speed up the recovery process.

Potential Risks of the BRAT Diet

The main risk associated with the BRAT diet is its lack of nutrients. Prolonged reliance on this diet can lead to malnutrition, especially in children who are already vulnerable due to illness. It’s important for children to consume a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrients, which the BRAT diet does not provide. The BRAT diet is restrictive and lacks in nutritional diversity. It’s low in protein, fat, and many essential vitamins and minerals. As a result, healthcare professionals, including those from the American Academy of Pediatrics, now recommend that children resume a normal, balanced diet as soon as they can tolerate it. This is to ensure they get the proper nutrients needed for growth and recovery.

Modern Recommendations for Childhood Gastrointestinal Issues

Pediatric health experts now recommend a different approach. Once children are rehydrated and ready to eat, they should resume a normal, balanced diet suitable for their age and development stage. This includes:

  • Protein: Vital for repair and recovery, found in meats, beans, and dairy products.
  • Fats: Essential for energy and cellular repair, available in avocados, dairy, and nuts.
  • Carbohydrates: For energy, sourced from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Introducing Foods Post-Illness

After a stomach illness, reintroduce foods gradually, starting with small, frequent meals. If a particular food does not aggravate symptoms, it can remain part of the child’s diet. Always consult with a pediatrician for personalized advice, especially if the child is not improving or is showing signs of dehydration or malnutrition.

The Role of DNA Testing in Optimal Nutrition for Children

DNA testing can provide valuable insights into your child’s unique nutritional needs and tolerances. Here’s why understanding your child’s genetic makeup can be crucial for their well-being:

Personalized Nutrition

Just as each child is unique, so are their dietary needs. DNA testing can identify specific genetic markers that influence how they metabolize nutrients, their predisposition to food sensitivities, and even their likelihood of certain deficiencies.

Informed Dietary Choices

Knowing your child’s genetic predispositions can help you make informed decisions about their diet, potentially avoiding foods that they may be sensitive to and focusing on those that could benefit their health the most.

Long-Term Health

Early intervention can be key to preventing future health issues. By understanding the genetic factors that may influence your child’s health, you can work with healthcare providers to develop a diet that supports long-term well-being.

CircleDNA’s Role in Your Child’s Nutrition

At CircleDNA, we understand the importance of personalized nutrition. Our DNA testing kits provide comprehensive reports that can help you understand your child’s unique dietary needs. By analyzing genetic markers associated with nutrient metabolism, food sensitivities, and more, CircleDNA can give you the insights you need to tailor your child’s diet for optimal health.

Empower your family with the knowledge to make the best nutritional choices for your children. Explore the possibilities with CircleDNA and take the first step towards personalized wellness. Visit CircleDNA to learn more about our DNA testing services and how we can support your child’s journey to a healthier future.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2015). “Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Acute Gastroenteritis in Children in Europe.” Available at: https://www.aappublications.org/news.
  2. National Health Service (NHS). (2018). “Dehydration – Children.” Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dehydration/children/
  3. World Health Organization (WHO). (2018). “Management of diarrhoea and use of the ORS.” Available at: https://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/documents/management_diarrhoea/en/
  4. Schiller, L. R., & Sellin, J. H. (2017). “Diarrhea.” In Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 10th Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
  5. Guandalini, S., & Vaziri, H. (2011). “Diarrhea: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Advances.” Humana Press. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-60327-957-6
  6. Genetics Home Reference. (2021). “Lactose intolerance.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available at: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/lactose-intolerance
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). (2021). “Nutrigenomics and Personalized Diets: What Will They Mean for Food?” Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3605747/
  8. Harvard Health Publishing. (2020). “Precision Nutrition: What Makes a Diet Right for You?” Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/precision-nutrition-what-makes-a-diet-right-for-you-2020110521203
  9. CircleDNA. “Premium DNA Test Kit.” Available at: https://www.circledna.com

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  1. I don’t think the title of your article matches the content lol. Just kidding, mainly because I had some doubts after reading the article.

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