We’ve all been there. That lurching feeling late at night when you can no longer deny that your food’s going to return in a catastrophic way. Usually your mind races back to last night’s meal but this may not always be the culprit. Here are the foods to avoid if you want to make sure you’re not hurling your dinner back at the bathroom and if you’re already there what you can do to recover.
When you retch into a bucket you may wonder which wretch did this to you. The top five pathogens that account for the majority of food poisoning cases are Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter and Staphylococcus aureus. Escherichia Coli, Listeria and Clostridium botulinum are also common. You can curse any of these as you lean over the toilet bowl and sound very impressive.
Eggs were in the media again last week as another outbreak of salmonella emerged. Eggs are a high-risk food and if you want to be safe eat them well done. There are other high-risk foods that you might want to avoid if you’re trying a new venue. Meat and fish that is under-cooked pose a risk. Raw oysters can also be a bit dicey in certain places due to increased contamination at some farms.
Sprouts are responsible for a tonne of food poisoning outbreaks. Avoid milk, cheese and juice that hasn’t been pasteurised to kill contaminants too. Pre-washed or pre-cut fruit and vegetables are likely to harbour more bacteria as they are handled more. Avoid buying them at supermarkets as cutting them also reduces their nutrient value.
There are ways you can identify whether your regurgitation is food poisoning or another bug. The symptoms of food poisoning last for far less time than a stomach virus. Usually, from a few hours to a few days, but most symptoms will clear up within 24 hours. A stomach virus can last up to ten days. Both will cause diarrohea, vomiting and a fever but stomach viruses tend to cause more muscle aches and headaches and diarrhoea that is watery or bloody.
If you’re under the chunder then you can’t reduce the duration of the illness. While you’re waiting for the hellish experience to end you can do some things to aid your recovery. Take small sips of water or suck on ice and avoid juices which make diarrhoea worse. Sip on an electrolyte drink or drink broth as your stomach starts to settle and them move onto plain, low-fat and low-fibre foods. Avoid lactose foods such as milk and yoghurt and high sugar and high-fat meals.
You may not be able to control the handling of food when you’re out and about but when you’re at home always wash your hands before touching food. Also, make sure you look at use-by dates on foods and ensure your produce is stored correctly. Cook food well if you’re worried about its source. Never chop raw meats on the same chopping board as other foods and be careful about reheating leftovers too many times. Avoid washing meat and fish in the sink and cook foods at high temperatures.
Food poisoning affects 4.1 million Australians each year and it’s not always in the form of the runs or retching. You may just have stomach pains or nausea which you blame on a hectic social life or too much alcohol. No one wants to lose a good lunch so be extra careful to avoid those dreaded runs to the bathroom.