8 Ways to Eat Smarter for a Hiatal Hernia

Hernia Info Authors

Diet alone cannot treat a hernia, but eating certain foods and avoiding others can help you lead a more comfortable life.1 When you have a hernia, diet depends on a few key factors, including smooth digestion, avoiding certain unhealthy and inflammatory foods, and reducing your risk of stomach and gastrointestinal (GI) problems.1,3 Additionally, avoiding foods that are high in fat, acidity, too much fiber, and alcohol content may help reduce symptoms of a hernia including heartburn, acid indigestion, bloating, gas, and regurgitation.1,3

When you have a hiatal hernia, it is easier for stomach acids to come up into the esophagus and cause a burning feeling in your throat and chest. Certain foods can make these symptoms worse for some people. Fortunately, when it comes to controlling symptoms of a hiatal hernia, eating smart and living a healthier lifestyle can play an important role in helping cope with your condition.2


See Our Food Options Tip Sheet →

8 Ways to Consider Eating Smarter

To make hiatal hernia-friendly changes to your diet, it’s important to incorporate foods that benefit your overall health, such as:3

  1. Non-citrus fruits – Fruits like bananas, apples, pears, and melons are a great source of nutrients and fiber.
  2. Fiber-rich vegetables – Vegetables like spinach, green peas, carrots, sweet potatoes and cucumber are a great source of fiber and packed with vitamins and minerals.
  3. Lean protein – Lean meats such as skinless chicken, turkey, or fish, and beans and peanut butter are all packed with protein—an essential nutrient for repairing and rebuilding body tissue.
  4. Low-fat dairy – Skim milk, low-fat yogurt, fat-free cheeses, cream cheese, and fat-free sour cream are also a good source of protein.
  5. Healthy oils and fats – Opt for healthier-oils such as nut and seed oils (avocado, sunflower, grapeseed, olive oil) and healthy fatty foods such as salmon and avocado. Saturated or trans fat food items such as fatty cuts of red meat, processed food, high-fat dairy products, and hydrogenated vegetable oil can lead to inflammation and increased weight. 
  6. Whole grains and oatmeal – Rich in nutrients and fiber, whole grains and oatmeal are a healthier alternative to refined grains and flour products, such as bleached flours, which are considered ‘empty’ carbs.
  7. Water – Essential for a smooth digestive function, water helps your body function regularly. However, too much water in a short period of time may result in bloating, which may be painful to someone with a hernia.
  8. Mild seasoning – Avoiding excessive amounts of spice can help minimize discomfort and support your overall digestive health.

To see the full list of food options for hiatal hernias, download our Food Options Tip Sheet. Another way to determine the best diet for you, keep a food journal and note if/when something causes symptoms to know what to avoid in the future. And as always, discuss your diet with your doctor to learn more about the foods best for you and ones that could potentially aggravate a hiatal hernia or help reduce its symptoms.

Each person is different and tolerates food differently. Some people may experience hiatal hernia symptoms even when they limit their diet to the foods less likely to cause symptoms.


The guidance provided in this article follows general rules that should be discussed with your doctor. This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not substitute for medical advice. If in doubt, always consult your doctor.

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