For millennia, rice has been used to help heal digestive disorders. Congee in the Chinese name but almost every culture in Asia has its own version. This is my version. It conforms to the recommendations made by most pediatriac experts and the WHO - that people who are vomiting and/or who have diarrhoea require fluid supplementation with carbohydrate content and a little salt. My congee is a little sweet and even children who shun their parents salty congee find it attractive.

Because I live in Canada and have tested it with a source of sweet which is made locally (maple syrup) and found that it works well, this is what I recommend. But if you find this unavailable or too expensive, try a low glycemic index sweeter like barley malt or rice malt.

Important: for children under 12 months of age - congee may be substituted for formula for several days but should be made with less salt than adults use. For the formula which follows, use one teaspoon of salt, not two, when making the drink.

How to make Congee


  1. rice ( 1 cup)
  2. water (10 cups)
  3. salt (2 teaspoon)
  4. maple syrup - real - not sugar syrup with maple flavor

Take one cup of any type of rice and add to ten cups of water. Bring to a boil and add two teaspoons salt. Simmer for two hours. Put through a strainer and throw away the rice. This produces a rather goopy liquid and works well for the acute illness. If however the patient is not actively vomiting, it may be better to use the rice 'pudding' without passing it through a strainer.

The rice drink should then be sweetened with enough maple syrup to give it a very mild sweet taste. This drink should be the only food for the first day. Take it in very small quantities - frequently. Generally, about one teaspoon (for children) or one tablespoon (for adults) every few minutes. Rather than waste maple syrup, sweeten the congee in small quantities as needed. Congee can safely be be stored in the fridge for one day but should always be served at room temperature or warm.

Later, when the acute symptoms subside, and the patient is hungry, cook some more congee but instead of throwing out the rice, use the whole goopy mix as the first food. It is OK to continue to use a little maple syrup as sweetener.

As the patient gets stronger, expand the range of foods to include soups, cooked vegetables, grains and some proteins. Meats and especially dairy products should wait until later.

For more information on diarrhoea, please see the full page. For infantile colic, please see its full page. Make sure that everyone with vomiting or diarrhoea takes the probiotic, Saccharomyces boulardii.