Light food: the best recovery for the intestines

Light food: woman eats broth

Bland food relieves the digestive system and therefore helps with gastrointestinal problems, for example. We explain everything you should know about light foods.

What is bland food? 

Bland food is a special diet with whole food that relieves the gastrointestinal tract and is supposed to improve digestion. The light, well-tolerated foods can be useful for illnesses in the stomach area, for example, to reduce discomfort. Diets are also often recommended after fasting for a slow return to eating.

Eating healthily: When is bland food used? 

The stomach-friendly diet is rated as useful, especially for the following complaints : 
  • constipation
  • diarrhoea
  • Flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Food intolerance
  • heartburn
  • stomach pain
  • Abdominal influenza
  • Inflammation of the stomach lining
  • Nausea/vomiting

Why is light food so useful?

Not only do the unprocessed foods protect the digestive system, but also the method of preparation. With light foods, the food is prepared by steaming, stewing or low-fat grilling, which ensures that most of the nutrients are retained. Also, food can be better broken down in the gastrointestinal tract. With the light diet, several small meals are eaten throughout the day - this also relieves the digestion.

What happens in the body through light food? 

The change in diet has the following effects on the body: 
  • Relieves the digestive system
  • Relieves discomfort
  • Supports the body in healing itself

The nutritional phases in light foods 

While in the past people had a one-sided diet with typical home remedies, for example only with rusks, broth and tea, today a light whole diet and consumption of plenty of water (at least two to three litres per day) is recommended. Basically, sugary, fatty and flatulent foods should be avoided. The change in diet is implemented in several phases, various light recipes help you persevere. In general, the following foods can be consumed as they are well tolerated:
  • Fruits: pears, apples, berries and bananas. The fruit must be generally ripe.
  • Vegetables: zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, fennel, kohlrabi
  • Dairy products: Reduced-fat products, for example, low-fat yoghurt or low-fat cheese
  • Meat: Lean meats such as poultry
  • Fish: Lean types of fish, including cod and saithe
  • Cereals/cereal products: couscous, potatoes, oat flakes, pasta, rusks, rice, stale bread

And this is how the switch to bland foods works: 

1st phase: tea and broth 

Unsweetened tea, broth, gruel, oatmeal soup, rice, crispbread, toast bread and rusks are on the menu for one to three days. The carbohydrates from these foods are easy to digest, and there is little fat.

2nd phase: light diet 

For the next seven to ten days, the dishes already mentioned are supplemented by light energy sources made from carbohydrates and protein such as honey, low-fat quark, compotes, easily digestible vegetables and fruit (e.g. apple, melon, banana, zucchini and carrots), mashed potatoes, lean meat and fish. The food remains low in fat. 

3rd phase: Light, complete diet 

This is practically the trying-out phase, in which you can test which other foods your stomach can tolerate. Mild and diluted fruit juices, coffee, low-fat dairy products and pastries can now be consumed again so that the body gets more fibre. You should avoid raw vegetables and salads, as both put a strain on digestion. The phase can be kept as long as you want or until the health complaints have subsided.  

Relaxed intestines: what should I avoid with light foods? 

Some foods are unsuitable for light food recipes because they are not easy on the stomach. These include: 
  • Fatty foods (e.g. ready-made products and fast food)
  • Flatulent and difficult to digest vegetables (e.g. cabbage, mushrooms, cucumbers, garlic, peppers, tomatoes)
  • Raw food
  • nuts
  • Fried or cured dishes (boil, steam, grill for recipes)
  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Stone fruit
  • Hot spices
  • alcohol
  • Desserts
  • Fresh citrus fruits

How long should I eat light foods?

In general, light foods are considered very healthy: Since only natural and processed foods with a lot of nutrients are eaten, and so no deficiency symptoms can occur, you can theoretically use the bland food for as long as you want. If you follow this diet to relieve symptoms, you should continue it at least until the symptoms have subsided. Anyone who suffers from chronic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, such as Crohn's disease can also benefit from light foods in the long term.
Important: If the symptoms persist for a long time despite a bland diet, a doctor should look for the causes. There could be a chronic illness that needs treatment.

More tips on light diets

Do you want to try the light diet? Then you should also heed the following tips:
  • Since fat is considered to be challenging to digest, fatty foods (such as fried foods) should be removed from the menu. Those who cook with oil should reduce the amount.
  • Hot spices and salt put pressure on digestion. Better: season dishes with herbs.
  • Instead of three large meals, we should rather eat five small meals throughout the day.
  • Take time to eat: chew each bite well before swallowing it. So you can not only enjoy the taste better, but you also swallow less air - if you have a lot of air in your stomach, you are more prone to gas.
  • Pamper your stomach with warmth: it relaxes the muscles and promotes blood circulation. Simply put a hot water bottle or a cherry stone pillow on your stomach. Alternatively, light massages can help by gently placing one hand on your stomach and moving it clockwise around your belly button.
  • Only those who drink enough can optimally support their body in its functions - for example when flushing out toxins. It should be at least two to three litres a day. Still, water is best, but unsweetened herbal tea is also acceptable.
  • A little exercise also improves blood circulation and stimulates digestion. A short, relaxed walk can help with complaints in the stomach area. A proper workout is best two to three times a week and should be at least 30 minutes each time.