How Diet Can Eliminate Your Pain
One of the least known facts about hiatal hernias is that this ailment does not have to be symptomatic. In fact, of the millions of people who suffer from hiatal hernias, over 50% do not show any signs at all. This is normally because they are eating the right foods, at the right pace and in the right increments. If you are on the other side of this percentage, it is very simple to eliminate your suffering altogether by implementing and sticking to a hiatal hernia diet.
The Basics of Eating with a Hiatal Hernia
A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach protrudes (or “herniates”) into your chest or thorax through a tear or weakness in the esophagus. Because of the nature of this herniation, acid reflux is the most common symptom that you will need to address. Commonly known as “heartburn,” this mildly to extremely painful ailment can become very serious if left unchecked, due to corrosion of the esophageal lining. For this reason, it is important to keep a few basic tenets in mind when eating on a diet for hiatal hernia.
• Eat slowly and chew well. When you eat quickly, you are doing two things that increase your risk for hiatal hernia symptoms: First, you are gulping air down as you swallow which increases the amount of air in your stomach. This leads to further herniation due to the expansion of the stomach. Second, your stomach has to work harder on larger chunks of food.
• Eat 5 to 6 smaller meals a day. This will help you to not overeat, a key factor in avoiding acid reflux. The brain takes 20 minutes to know that it is full so reducing the amount of larger meals and splitting them up into smaller ones will allow the brain to register fullness and self-adjust the food cravings it sends to you.
• Eat the right combination of foods. Proteins should never be combined with complex carbohydrates. Fruits should always be eaten separately, etc.
• Post-meal posture. Sit up for at least one hour after eating and never bend over or lie down. This promotes proper digestion.
• Leave the night for sleeping. Avoid meals and snacks from at least two to three hours before bedtime. Your body doesn’t digest in the healthiest manner at night and especially during sleep. That’s just the way we are wired from an evolutionary standpoint.
Managing Your Diet
Foods to Avoid
It should go without saying that each individual reacts differently to any number of foods with regards to the causation of heartburn. While it seems simple enough to think that staying away from spicy or acidic foods would completely solve the problem, this is not often the case. Your diet will have to be tailored towards your body’s reactions. With that said, here is a list of foods that will give you a good idea of what to avoid:
• High-fat sweets and snacks. Brownies, cookies, chocolate (the serotonin in chocolate relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter), donuts, corn chips, potato chips, etc.
• Citruses. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, cranberries and the juices that are made from them.
• Tomato-based foods. This includes spaghetti sauce, chili, pizza, salsa and tomato juice.
• Dairy products. Milk, ice cream and creamed foods like cheeses. Try substituting soy milk and mild cheeses, like feta or goat.
• Cooking additives. Garlic, oil, butter, onions, peppers, vinegar, wine.
• Fatty and fried foods. French fries, fried chicken, fatty cuts of meat (marbled steak for example).
• Vices. Coffee, tea, caffeinated drinks, alcohol, wine, beer, cigarettes.
Foods to Enjoy
Now that we got the depressing part of the hiatus hernia diet out of the way, let’s take a look at the many wonderful and tasty foods you can have. In most cases, it’s not about cutting out a particular food altogether, but rather switching to the low-fat or lean version and using healthier cooking methods. This is not only helpful for your hernia, but also healthier for you all around.
• Lean meats. Look for the lean cuts at your local butcher and enjoy the same steak, London Broil, skinless chicken breast, ground beef, fish and pork that you always have.
• Greens are great! Broccoli, cabbage, beans, peas, salads, etc.
• Low-fat products. As I mentioned, simply switching to low-fat products can be enough. Skim milk, yogurt, sweets with no mint or chocolate, salad dressings and cheeses can all be found in low-fat varieties.
• Fruits. Bananas and apples are tasty and good for you, too.
• Substitutes. Baked potato chips, egg whites/substitutes, pretzels, rice cakes and graham crackers.
• Grains. Cereal, oatmeal, bran, bread, rice, crackers and pasta.
Your Hiatal Hernia is Telling You Something
Don’t ignore it! With simple management and attention, you can utilize a proper diet combined with healthier living to combat the symptoms of your hiatal hernia. Bake instead of fry, steam your veggies, use cooking spray instead of butter and go easy on the seasoning. Not only will you feel better, but these lifestyle changes will leave you looking better as well. Don’t think of your diet as a restriction, but rather an exciting new path to a healthier you!
In most cases the right combination of foods will greatly alleviate hiatal hernia symptoms and will help you in getting better quickly. With the right combination of foods you might be able to enjoy foods that are on the ‘to avoid list’ every once in a while without having to suffer another attack. To find out if this works for you click the link below for a 4 day test drive of a program that will teach you how you to combine foods the right way and you might even be able to get rid of your hiatal hernia.