Hiatal hernia is a condition where the upper region of the stomach pushes up via the diaphragm into your chest cavity. Acid reflux is one of the common symptoms and it also causes intense pain and discomfort during and after eating certain foods.  Hiatal hernia can affect anyone, but it is more common among men. When a person has a hiatal hernia, it is much easier for stomach acids to reach up into the esophagus, which results in a burning feeling in the throat and chest. This may lead to a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Certain foods or drinks can aggravate the symptoms of GERD. Well, diet plays a crucial part in regulating the symptoms of hiatal hernia such as heartburn and indigestion. Thus, it is vital to choose foods that don’t increase acid secretions and ease the symptoms. The main goal of the hiatal hernia diet is to mitigate acid reflux by restricting or avoiding certain foods that increase stomach acid secretion.

Also Read: Hernia: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Hiatal Hernia Diet

Here’s the list of foods you should eat and avoid and other health tips for handling a hiatal hernia.

Food and Drinks To Be Included

There are a whole lot of natural foods available that would decrease the acid secretion in the stomach. Most whole foods are a good choice as they are unprocessed, which means they are an abundant source of dietary fibre, that offers respite from acid reflux and other symptoms of hiatal hernia.

Include plenty of these foods in the meal plan:

  • Non-citrus fruits: Apples, pears, melons, and berries
  • Vegetables: Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, green beans, peas, and leafy green vegetables
  • Whole grains: Oats, quinoa, millets
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and chia seeds
  • Lean protein: Fish, skinned chicken, egg
  • Low-fat milk products: Yogurt
  • Plant-based milk: Soy or almond milk
  • Beverages: Green tea and herbal teas

Foods And Beverages To Avoid

Some of the foods and beverages you should totally restrict include:

  • Onions and garlic
  • Citrus fruits like limes and oranges
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based products
  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods
  • Foods loaded with sodium
  • Cocoa and chocolate
  • Peppermint and mint
  • Condiments like ketchup or mustard
  • Highly processed foods
  • Fatty and oily foods

Beverages To Avoid Include:

  • Alcohol- wine, beer, and spirits
  • Coffee
  • Caffeinated teas
  • Carbonated drinks like seltzer water and soda
  • Whole milk and milk products

Eating and Healthy Cooking Guidelines

The method of food preparation and the way of eating can make a huge difference. People who have heartburn should try to cook foods in a healthy way. For instance, fried foods can trigger heartburn, and eating too much food at a time may worsen symptoms.

Also Read: Acid Reflux: 7 Awesome Foods That You Should Add In Your Diet To Ease Heartburn

Follow some of these tips:

  • Choose healthy fats such as coconut, olive, and avocado oils for cooking
  • Eat whole foods whenever possible, as they are a good source of fiber that would ease acid reflux
  • Regularise meal pattern – eat small frequent meals instead of three large meals during the day
  • Include probiotic foods in the diet plan such as pickled veggies, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha. Also having a probiotic supplement is a good choice.
  • Stay well hydrated and drink plenty of plain water. It is the best fluid you can drink and aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. Adding lemon to flavour water is a good option, as it has acid-lowering potential. Though, lemon is acidic outside the body, when metabolized it turns to alkaline

Lifestyle Modifications

Apart from the dietary alterations, there are several things one can do to avert and manage acid reflux caused due to hiatal hernia, which includes:

  • Never lie down immediately after having food, wait for at least two to three hours before going to bed post dinner
  • Elevate the head of your bed about 6 inches to promote sound sleep
  • Lose weight if you’re obese or overweight
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothes, which can worsen symptoms
  • Eat in a calm and relaxing environment without any distractions, and avoid standing up while eating
Maintain a food journal and jot down food triggers, as everyone does not have the same triggers for acid reflux. Note down what you have eaten and how it makes you feel