C Diff Diet Basics: Gain Control Over the Gut Bacteria Clostridium Difficile

Watery diarrhea is the major symptom of a C diff infection, so it’s no surprise that foods that combat loose stools are found in an effective, supportive C diff diet.

c diff diet

C diff diet basics include "soft foods" to soothe your stomach.

© Samotrebizan | Dreamstime

Has your doctor diagnosed your symptoms of watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and fatigue as clostridium difficile, or C diff? You’re probably battling a lack of appetite (another typical symptom of c diff) and are picky about what you’re willing to eat. Understandable. But your ears may perk up when you hear our suggestions for a “C diff diet”—suggestions that may put you on the road to recovery a little more quickly.

When you saw your doctor, he or she likely suggested you go on a “soft foods” diet, although what that means may not be clear. Whoever heard of “hard food”? Well, clearly, nuts and seeds are not “soft foods”—they crunch when you chew—so steer clear. But well-cooked vegetables like beets and green beans are good soft foods—important for an effective C diff diet.

C Diff Diet: The Fiber Factor

Vegetables are strong C diff diet foods because they have soluble fiber. “Soluble” means that the fiber in these foods attracts water, turning to gel in the GI tract and slowing down the digestive process. That’s exactly what you need in an effective C diff diet to get that diarrhea under control. In fact, several good animal studies showed diets high in soluble fiber actually help remove C diff bacteria.

Additional soluble-fiber choices for a C diff diet include:

Starchy foods are a top choice for battling diarrhea, making them a staple in a good C diff diet. So those pasta dishes and potatoes you’ve been avoiding due to carbs and calories become headliners in your C diff diet. Crackers, bananas, and rice are also good choices. You’re looking for foods that help slow and calm your upset GI tract.

You should also drink plenty of liquids when on a C diff diet. Remember that diarrhea quickly causes dehydration, which only adds to your fatigue. (See also our post “Beware the Bug: C-Diff Symptoms and Treatments.”)

Probiotics in a C Diff Diet

In addition to quieting your grumpy intestines, you need to replenish the healthy digestive “bugs” in your system. Severe diarrhea wreaks havoc on your digestive enzymes, destroying helpful digestive agents. Probiotics in a C diff diet can help get things under control again. Diana Dyer, MS, RD, of TodaysDietitian.com agrees. “Foods that contain probiotics will help repopulate the gut with good bacteria and reduce the risk of regrowth of C diff,” she writes.

The experts at Livestrong.com pinpoint the probiotic Lactobacillus GG as a prominent supplement choice in a C diff diet. “Lactobacillus GG, a bacterium, was found to be effective in reducing the recurrence of Clostridium difficile infection and relieving the symptoms of abdominal cramps and diarrhea that often accompany this infection.”

Lactobacillus GG, as explained at cancer.gov is “a live form of a bacterium that makes lactic acid (a substance that is made from sugars found in milk and is also made in the body),” helping with digestion and normal bowel function.

One of the most widely recommended over-the-counter Lactobacillus GG supplements is Culturelle. Note: Adding Lactobacillus GG to your C diff diet is beneficial, but it is not a cure. Only your doctor can give you the medicine you need to cure a C diff infection. Always work with your physician before taking any supplements.

Yogurt is a good part of your C diff diet as well, since it is loaded with several probiotics. According to the a 2014 article in The Hospitalist, a Pennsylvania hospital was able to cut its incidence of C diff by 67 percent by encouraging patients on antibiotics to eat yogurt every day. The facility won an innovation award for the program.

Be aware that not all products labeled “yogurt” contain probiotics. The label must say, “Live active cultures.” Beyond that, add whatever flavor you like to your C diff diet.

Foods to Avoid in a C Diff Diet

Consider that when your body is involved in a C diff infection, its ability to absorb nutrients is compromised, so the food you eat needs to combat that. As such, you need calcium in your C diff diet, but it may be one of the more difficult to add. Dairy foods are on the “avoid” list of foods in a C diff diet, because your body may temporarily develop lactose intolerance. (No, this doesn’t mean you need to avoid yogurt, say experts.) So while bypassing diary products, do look for calcium-fortified non-dairy products, like almond milk and oatmeal, for your C diff diet.

Wheat is an insoluble fiber, which means it passes more quickly through the digestive system without absorbing water. We don’t want to speed the digestive process up when we’re dealing with diarrhea. Plus, many C diff patients become temporarily gluten-intolerant as well, so avoid wheat.

Besides dairy products and wheat, here’s a list of additional foods to avoid on a C diff diet:

  • Caffeine
  • Fat-free foods
  • Gassy foods
  • Greasy foods
  • Hard-to-digest foods
  • High-fat foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Artificial sweeteners

Originally published in 2017, this post is regularly updated.

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Comments
  • Thanks for all the information on the foods to help with the c diff infection. This will help me out greatly after becoming infected during a recent hospital admission for a kidney stone attack. The Doctor misroneously prescribed an antibiotic, after which I ultimately tested positive for the infection. He never gave me this wonderful information. Thanks again

    Reply
  • This information is conflicting and vague. What is “gassy” food? What are “hard to digest foods” (the answer is subjective)? This says not to eat wheat, but pasta is a headliner? Crackers are ok? This article would be far more useful with a scientific approach and a least slightly more comprehension.

    Reply
  • What are the sources of this diet information? You only list other UHN articles as “sources” but don’t mention studies or medical sources by name.

    Reply
    • Hi Philip, thank you for your question. Some of our articles do list sources from various studies and and medical journals, which are listed at the bottom of the article. This one, however, has sources listed within the article. We sourced content from TodaysDietitian.com, LiveStrong.com, Cancer.gov, and The Hospitalist.

      Reply
  • Wouldn’t it be fair to find better resourses on nutritional guidelines for C diff than to print literally contradictory and incomplete information throughout. It left me with more questions than answers. At the end it says to avoid sugar free foods?? Did I read that correctly? The reason I’m reading your article to begin with is because I’ve just been tested positive for C Diff and I’m looking for consistent information. If I eat anything with sugar in it I immediately get painful terrible cramps. When you mentioned eating yogurt with live cultures more than once I was sure you would clarify that plain yogurt with no sugar would be a clear distinction. After my adverse reaction to sugar I would not eat yogurt with sugar in it especially considering how much it has added in it. Because yogurt is pasteurized first and has live cultures added afterwards there is a lot of questions about the stability and shelf life of those cultures. There are fermented foods that produce the same cultures on going in much higher numbers without the die off or dairy intolerance. (saurkraut, miso, kombucha). Or probiotic supplements which are very easy to take.
    How much or how little of these leading universities medical centers curriculum is focused on nutrition? Thank you

    Reply
  • No disrespect as I did appreciate the reminder about the different types of fibre and some of the other info. It only seems that the resources of information could potentially be quite dated considering the contradictions throughout the article? Thanx again for considering my questions.

    Reply
  • You mention to avoid, “fat free foods” and “High-fat foods”. Does “fat free food” specifically refer to those foods made with Olestra? I saw that referenced in another article.

    Reply
    • Hi Kathryn, yes, the term “fat-free foods” refers to foods containing Olestra. Thanks for your question/comment.

      Reply
  • After spending 2weeks in hospital for c-diff was was given liquid med that let me be discharged providing I was continue with if for 10 days. It did stop the C-diff, however , in 6 weeks c-diff came back. I went to a different hospital ER and was given diffid14 pills) for $1,200. It stopped c-diff for 1 month. Now it’s back. I will get on the diet you recommend and see how it works.

    Reply
  • I understand not eating artificial sweeteners with CDiff, so can you eat real sugar to satisfy a sweet craving? I know it’s not good for you to begin with. But sometimes you need a little sweet! ?

    Reply
  • My husband has c-diff and other medical conditions. He needs to gain weight. So, he eats pretzels and chocolate for snacking. Question, is chocolate without nuts ok to eat if you have c-diff

    Reply
  • What about diabetics. What do they drink besides water , with c diff

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  • I was prescribed 2 rounds of metronidazole which didn’t help, since I didn’t have $4100 for vancomycin. My doctors left me for dead after suffering for weeks passing large amounts of blood and pus. I found a treatment online that saved my life, turmeric enemas twice a day for 14 days. I have been good ever since. I do take probiotics, a couple of different kinds, and eat fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha. I used to have faith in modern medicine, but not anymore. Do your research and have faith in God.

    Reply
  • I am a 68 yo woman who recently had a 9 day hospitalization due to C-Diff. I found this article to be very helpful in making recommendation for preventing further reoccurrences of the infection symptoms. My GI specialist only recommended yogurt for my diet. After performing my own research, I added probiotics specifically aimed at reducing the C-Diff flora. I am also a retired critical care RN and I would recommend that MDs and specialists inform their patients after catching up on the latest information for this disease!

    Reply
  • I am 84 and had colonic inertia before antidodic for burn. I am used to high fiber diet. Can I eat sweet potatoes, have a cocktail, eat meat? How do I get enough protein? I need HELP!

    Reply
  • Had colonic inertia prior to antibiotics. Can I still have sweet potatoes, a cocktail, meat? How do I get my protein. I’m 84 and need HELP!

    Reply
  • I am having my 4th bout of cdiff. Almost died January 2018. February 2nd i had the FMT procedure done (where they put someone else’s poop inside of you). This procedure stopped the cdiff and was better in 2 days.. I am on vancomycin until my next FMT procedure.. for those out there that battle this bacteria its a life changer.. This bacteria can kill you, very highly contagious. Not everyone understands the dangers involved with this bacteria. Antibiotics causes me to get cdiff every time and im right back in the hospital. If you are in the hospital get them to treat you with a probiotic along with antibiotics to kill the bacteria…

    Reply
  • I am a 70 year old woman. It doesn’t matter what anti biotic I have to take or how much, it stirs up the C-diff. I have been hospitalized 4 times in the last two years. The last douse was Vancomicin for over a month – I then had sinus infection treated with Predisone and a bacterial infection treated with ceftin. I am now going thru yet another bout of C-Diff. I am so tired of all of this. I do take Bio-K probiotic daily along with vitamins, electrolite and now trying Imodium.

    Reply
  • My husband was just diagnosed with c-diff , he has lost 50 lbs and , he got it from being on 3 different antibiotics at the same time , he was being treated for divititicilitius ,but the whole time he had c-diff , so now we are trying to build his immune system up.

    Reply
  • I have had c diff several years ago. In and out of hospitals for 2 years. Finally had a fecal trasplant it lasted approxmatly 8 to 10 years. Now that devil desease is back again. Put me on Flagyl will see. What are we supposed to do? Really?

    Reply
  • Please I’m so tired of suffering I’ve been sick for 5 months after a life threatening upper respiratory infection last winter I have COPD. For months I’ve suffered with these symptoms from C diff. From antibiotic tx
    I’m scared sick sweating cramping weak and nauseous I’m trying to find an appropriate diet as well as taking Flagyl & probiotics what else can I do to help myself recover. I’m 65 & feel 90. Please any advice appreciated.

    Reply
  • After procedure you still suffer🙈. This makes me very sad. Have you been on any kind of special diet? I’m so sick with this horrible disease

    Reply
  • My husband was diagnosed with c diff. Took him to er twice so far. Not once did they say he had. Both times he was severely dehydrated. I got to reading on his discharge and found the diagnosis. Hes been sick for 3 weeks now. Obviously hes getting better. My question is can you get this from food?

    Reply
  • I am so sorry to see so many people with c-diff. I experienced my first bout with CD two years ago. Dental antibiotic and then shortly colonoscopy including a prep that makes you bleed. I feel it is too strong and should be made appropriate for each individual, by weight, health issues and age. This is 2019 and I have been out of my part time job and exercise group for 3 months since Feb, and it appears another 3 months starting the end of June. So far 3 trips to the ER and one 4.5 days hospitalized. I am 69 and have a clerical medical background. I agree with our retired nurses statement. Medical staff must take some time to update themselves and staff on new reliable information in each area. Everything is constantly changing. If not sure, look it up, consult with other professionals,; especially, pharmacists regarding drugs and updates. To speed things up possibly a check list or a button to push after each observation or consult has been and only has been done not before. There has to be away to keep ER staff, Hospital staff, office staff and all the staff in all areas for their departments. Effective communication must be put in place saving time, energy, lives and money. Less opportunity to fail or hurt someone. My example, before I was admitted from the ER and two weeks visit to ER just starting to feel better from Vancomycin TX I some how got campyelobactor (food poisoning). Because was almost better I was sent home being told I did not have C-diff. Several days later I was called from the ER and told c-diff antigen was positive, a&b negative. I also had campyelobactor. They just said come back to ER if I had problems. I was never told my diarrhea would stop until I had an antibiotic. I was never offered a Rx or told that I needed one before I could heal.
    I eating very much. I was dehydrated both ER visits. Because of that I ended up in the ER and admitted severely dehydrated, septic, diarrhea, and a number of other Dx.
    I am very concerned for myself and everybody of all ages. I am Thankful I am alive. Anyone of those 3 conditions kill thousands of people every year. 1. C-diff,
    2. Campyelobactor. 3. Septic.
    I hope this helps others. If you are fortunate enough to have a family or friend advocate oversee and stay by your side during these critical times, I hope you will except their help and tell them how much you appreciate them.

    Reply
  • I’ve had MRSA and now c. Diff and I’m wondering why I’ve these unusual viruses

    Reply
  • One is told to avoid dairy due to lactose intolerance – what about lactose free cheese? or milk?

    Reply

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