A hiatal hernia diet plan can help combat symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
A new diet plan may seem like an extreme measure to take to treat a condition that’s primarily benign, but GERD is one of the primary causes of indigestion and a condition that affects approximately 20% of Americans.
A patient with hiatal hernia, a condition where part of the stomach bulges through an opening in the diaphragm, may also experience symptoms of GERD, such as:
- Problems swallowing
If you’re suffering from hiatal hernia, then you could stand to benefit from the hiatal hernia diet plan.
What Is Hiatal Hernia? Am I at Risk?
As mentioned above, hiatal hernia occurs when a part of the stomach pushes or bulges through an opening in the diaphragm (this is the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen). Since the stomach is squeezed, it can result in the retention of acid and other substances that reflux into the esophagus.
The cause of hiatal hernia is often unknown, but it is most common in women, people over the age of 50 and individuals who are overweight. As noted, GERD can be caused by hiatal hernia.
Hiatal Hernia Diet: Foods to Eat
A large part of the hiatal hernia diet involves reducing the amount of stomach acids created by the body; thus, preventing the cause of heartburn. But there are other important factors to keep in mind before starting the hiatal hernia diet. For starters, the diet focuses on smaller, healthier meals that are eaten throughout the day. You also need to be careful with your body movements. For example, don’t bend over immediately after eating and wait at least two hours between the time you eat and the time you go to bed. With that in mind, the following is a list of foods that you can eat:
- Fruits and vegetables: Fruits that are rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries, cherries, and apricots, can help reduce symptoms of indigestion. Antioxidant-rich vegetables, such as carrots, red bell peppers, and broccoli are excellent choices as well.
- Lean meats and fish: Turkey, salmon, ground beef, skinless chicken breast, and certain types of fish (i.e. cod and mackerel) are the go-to choices for protein in the hiatal hernia diet. Make sure the fish and meat products are baked and not fried.
- Beverages: Water is the ideal beverage to incorporate into the hiatal hernia diet. It’s important to drink it slightly warm as ingesting food or beverages that are too hot or too cold can interfere with the natural action of the stomach acids.
- Oils and grains: Healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil and safflower oil, are better alternatives to trans fats. Fiber is a necessary part of the hiatal hernia diet, so be sure to include plenty of whole grains in your meals. Brown rice, whole-grain pasta, rye bread, and quinoa are all excellent options. If you prefer, substitute these options with gluten-free alternatives.
Hiatal Hernia Diet: Foods to Avoid
The following foods should be avoided since they can trigger heartburn:
- Spicy, fried or fattening foods, including cold cuts, read meat, bacon, hot dogs, sausages, and fried chicken. Avoid seasoning your meats with marinades or anything spicy.
- Fattening dairy products, such as whole milk, sour cream, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and milkshakes.
- Caffeinated beverages, alcohol, fizzy drinks (e.g. sodas) and acidic juices.
The Hiatal Hernia Diet Eating Plan
People who follow a hiatal hernia diet will benefit from an eating plan. Keep track of what foods you eat, when you eat them, and record any corresponding symptoms. This will help you determine what foods trigger symptoms of GERD and you can plan your meals accordingly.
Hiatal Hernia Diet: Post-Surgery
If you suffer from GERD, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair a hiatal hernia. After the surgery you may end up with swelling around the throat, making it hard to swallow. It can take at least a month for things to return to normal. During recovery, eat moist foods and make sure to eat and chew your food slowly.
- For the first two to five days after surgery, stick to fluids, purees and semi-solid foods.
- After one to two weeks, move to soft and mashed foods like porridge, fresh fruit, well-cooked veggies, whole-wheat pasta, fresh fish, and eggs. Slowly transition to light foods, such as salads, stews, and chicken.
By following a proper hiatal hernia diet, you should successfully be able to manage the symptoms of GERD. Keep in mind that a successful diet may require lifestyle changes. For example, you may have to quit smoking and avoid anything that puts strain on the abdomen (i.e. tight clothing).
As with any diet, it’s important to consult with your doctor before making any changes to your eating habits and/or lifestyle.
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