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B.R.A.T. Diet - helpful or just torture

Bananas-Rice-Applesauce-and Toast

It truly is not a diet for any sane person to eat. However, I am going into week two of some stomach thing that I have acquired. No doubt from some well meaning child who simply forgot to wash their hands. Although I am in remission, I'm still immuno-suppressed and that means I catch the damnedest things. I have lost 11 pounds in two weeks, and yet I made the decision to go back to work, so I have a show going up next weekend and school starts Monday. I'm taking today off, and I'm going to try to play it easy tomorrow. But, I can't take a day off.

The last time my stomach was this bad I was in the hospital. I was neutropenic as all hell. I had a hemorrhoid that had gotten all sorts of infected and I caught what many of us immuno-suppressed folks catch in the hospital: C-Diff.

C-Diff is like the mother of all diarrhea. From this disease, you can relieve yourself so much that you have to get something called a fecal transplant (Yes, it's what you think it is - and I thought I had heard EVERY poop related joke training at Second City). It is not the most fun thing to have with an infected hemorrhoid.  I think that was the longest and most awful three-week stint I ever did at the hospital. My stomach was a hot-mess.

One of the many doctors I had prescribe me to go on the BRAT diet. Of course in true medical fashion, he then left the room without explaining what that was or anything. The doctor didn't even put an order into the kitchen. So, the next morning I had the usual high fat breakfast I always had - and stomach pain GALORE. So, one of my favorite nurses, called them explicitly to make sure I had the diet.

It really is awful - you have to stick to bananas, rice applesauce and toast and of course, water. These are the simplest things that you should eat. It helps your stomach heal. Acidic foods (Tomatoes, citrus, and the like) are really off the table. Butter and oil are no-no's. Dairy is a super no-no! But like most hospitals, they didn't tell me how long you should do it and how to get off of it.

So let me help you. Don't do it for more than 2-3 days. I only found one article on it in my web searches for getting off of it. You go from BRAT to BRAT-TY, meaning add tea and yogurt. Do this really as soon as you can.

Then it's about the glycemic index really. You need to eat foods that are easy to digest. Sadly, this can mean processed. I lived off Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, mainly because there was a little protein in it. Add potatoes and regular pasta (not whole wheat). Start to add eggs. Vegetables should be the higher ones on the glycemic index because they are easier to digest. I bought a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and added to dishes. I made a Spanish Tortilla with that, and it was quite good. Apple juice and Gatorade were my drinks of choice along with water. But stay away from spice and stay away from fatty foods. Adding foods is the real trick, I will not lie to you. I had a lot of trial and error. My body was craving vitamins. I had the best luck with simple foods. I love greens and cruciferous vegetables, but I couldn't handle them. It took a good month before I was back to normal.

I am debating with myself whether I should go back on that diet now. I have been eating what I call stage three: Eggs, chicken soup, Thai noodles, a lot of pasta. Toast with butter is still giving me issues. I decided to buy a CSA (farm share) this summer and I have a fridge full of gorgeous veggies that I simply can't stomach at the moment (Freezing a lot of it). And drinking a TON of Gatorade (and rethinking how I feel about the soda tax in Chicago).

Here's that Spanish Tortilla recipe from America's Test Kitchen. I omitted the red peppers and peas and subbed them in for mixed veggies. It turned out pretty good. The flip is not as easy as she makes it look. Be kind to yourself if it doesn't turn out great the first time.

Spanish Tortilla

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