Despite the fact that it can be treated easily and fairly quickly, gastritis can prove quite difficult to handle at times. Aside from medication, a big part of the healing process involves learning which foods are good for us and which are not and should be avoided. And while most people can do well on a general diet plan provided by their doctor, sometimes, apparently harmless foods can trigger the most severe symptoms and delay our healing simply because they are just not that good for us and end up irritating the stomach lining.
Finding out which foods to eat and which to avoid when you have gastritis is essential for reducing the inflammation of the stomach lining. In addition to well-known problematic foods and beverages such as junk food or coffee, gastritis symptoms can be triggered by eating cabbage, cauliflower or bell peppers and other otherwise healthy foods that we would normally consider highly beneficial for us. One of the most important aspects to keep in mind is that we are all different and may each respond differently to foods and beverages so there isn’t a universal diet plan for gastritis.
Foods to avoid
1) Greasy, oily foods and anything deep-fried.
2) Fast food (when consumed regularly).
3) Baked sweets rich in butter, oil or margarine.
4) Hard candy, chocolate bars, biscuits etc.
5) Red meat (pork, beef, turkey) and venison (quail, pheasant).
6) Coffee and caffeinated beverages.
7) Green tea, black tea and white tea, Oolong tea, energy drinks.
Treating gastritis often requires you to give up all forms of caffeine.
8) Carbonated beverages (sugary, fizzy drinks).
9) Carbonated or sparkling water (best avoided after a meal).
10) Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and other cabbage family vegetables.
11) Onions, garlic, leek, chives.
12) Beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas.
13) Hard cheeses or aged cheeses (example: cheddar) and soft, high-fat cheeses (example: burrata).
14) Spices: sweet and hot chili peppers, sweet and spicy paprika (ground peppers), wasabi, raw and dried ginger, turmeric, pepper.
Food with too much seasoning tends to upset the stomach, irrespective of the spices used.
15) Alcohol and fermented fruit juices.
16) Vinegar and pickles (example: sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower).
17) Too much refined sugar and processed foods.
18) Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, yuzu).
19) Fats: oils, butter, margarine, mayonnaise.
20) Fermented dairy products (example: soured milk, buttermilk, sour yogurt).
So what shouldn’t you eat for gastritis?Anything processed and prepared with food preservatives stands a higher chance of irritating the stomach lining and triggering gastritis symptoms. Fast food products and red meat are problematic because they are heavy foods, more difficult to digest and thus require more stomach acid to be produced and a longer digestion time. Alcohol, coffee, caffeinated beverages and even decaffeinated coffee are strong irritants for the stomach lining. Green tea and black tea, but also white tea, Oolong tea contain caffeine and theine and may cause acidity.
Legumes such as beans and peas are rich in dietary fiber which causes bloating and further accentuates gastritis symptoms. Onions and garlic, broccoli, cabbage and similar vegetables contain organosulfur compounds that cause stomach air and bloating which increases the chances of gastric juices escaping into the esophagus. But they also contain fiber that irritates the stomach lining, making them foods to avoid eating too frequently or at all if you have severe acid reflux or gastritis.
Sweet carbonated beverages and even carbonated water may upset the stomach. While sweet carbonated beverages are best avoided altogether, whether or not you can drink carbonated water is something you have to decide for yourself, based on your individual experience with it. For example, I find carbonated water may not be a good idea after eating, but doesn’t trigger any symptoms or stomach upset if consumed 2-3 hours after eating, at least for me. But if you feel it irritates the stomach lining, causes air and burping and acid reflux, you may be better off not having carbonated water.
Aged cheese (example: Parmesan, cheddar), fatty fresh cheeses (example: burrata) and, for some people fermented dairy products (example: yogurt, kefir, soured milk, buttermilk) cause stomach acidity and worsen gastritis symptoms. I also find vinegar gives me heartburn and a sort of painful burning sensation in the stomach, even in small amounts and especially when eaten at night. Pickled vegetables and fruits are also a source of gastritis upset. Too much sugar is highly problematic for gastritis as well, mainly because it’s found in processed foods which are also full of fats and additives.
In my case, foods that I used to love and eat regularly without having any issue with have started to upset my stomach once I developed gastritis. It was then I realized that there isn’t a universal diet plan for all gastritis sufferers and that seemingly innocent foods may cause more damage than good. This is one of the reasons why treating gastritis can be difficult: you have to give up foods you love as well as extremely healthy foods like a lot of fruits. Because a gastritis diet is a bland diet.
Other problematic foods
Here is a list of potentially problematic foods to avoid for gastritis that may trigger mild to severe symptoms and delay healing of an existing condition in certain sufferers:
1) Bell peppers, hot chili peppers and paprika (sweet and spicy).
2) Pineapple (because it contains the enzyme bromelain).
3) Citrus fruit and citrus juices.
4) Strawberries and strawberry juice.
5) Eggplants (less upsetting if boiled).
6) Fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato juice.
7) Corn (but not cornmeal, used to make polenta).
8) Cucumbers, fresh and pickled.
9) Potatoes (fried, roasted or eaten in large amounts).
10) Pumpkin (especially baked).
11) Chocolate and chocolate spread.
12) Hot chocolate and powder cocoa.
14) Peppermint and spearmint tea (not for everyone).
15) Cold meats such as salami, ham or sausages.
16) Raw ginger and ginger powder, but not boiled ginger.
17) Unripe or not fully ripe bananas.
18) Pickled fruits and vegetables.
19) Oily fish such as tuna and salmon.
20) Canned tuna and other fish canned in oil or tomato sauce.
When I was dealing with gastritis in all its glory, I could not eat most of the above foods at all or could only eat some of them in very small amounts and only occasionally. For instance, citrus fruits such as lemons or grapefruit and their juice versions would give me the worst acidity and lots of air, while bell peppers and paprika worsened my acid reflux. Baked pumpkin, which I love and is extremely healthy, bloated me a lot and had me burping for days, with the wort stomach upset ever. I also found chocolate spread and ginger very irritating, while corn and eggplants made me feel like fainting and had me experiencing a strong feeling of uneasiness in the middle of my chest.
However, after completing my 3-week long treatment with esomeprazole and keeping up a rather strict dietary regime for another 2-3 months, I started reintroducing some of these foods in my diet (except for pickles, cold meats and citrus juices – I still avoid them) and can now enjoy them in moderate amounts without any stomach discomfort.
Foods to eat
What foods to eat for gastritis? Despite the wide range of foods that may trigger gastritis symptoms, there are still a lot of options to choose from and work out an eating plan that suits each and every one of us. The list of fruits and vegetables in the Foods Map section in the menu is a good starting point that can help you work out an eating plan suited to your individual dietary needs. Some foods I found particularly helpful when I was dealing with gastritis and was on a restrictive diet include the following:
1) Boiled vegetables, except for problematic ones.
I loved carrots, parsnip, celery, celeriac, turnips and spinach.
2) Soft boiled eggs, mainly chicken. I avoided duck eggs and goose eggs which I found too fatty. Choose your eggs in the Eggs page.
3) Plain, white bread and limited amounts of whole grain bread.
4) Rice, white and parboiled.
5) Ripe bananas (with a few brown spots on the skin).
6) Pears, also in limited amounts, without the skin, preferably boiled.
7) Sweet cottage cheese (consumed occasionally and only after about a month of dieting).
8) Chicken soup (more lean chicken meat and noodles and less actual soup – too many liquids at once caused stomach acidity and worsened by gastritis symptoms).
See my 1 Week Gastritis Diet Plan.
9) Lean white meat: chicken and limited amounts of fish like cod (always boiled).
10) Chamomile tea.
11) Small amounts of fresh olive oil.
12) Limited amounts of raw almonds, cashews and walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
13) Moderate amounts of white pasta (with vegetables, fish or seafood).
14) Fresh figs, sometimes apples without the skin or boiled with plain boiled white rice.
15) A tablespoon of acacia honey when I craved sugar.
Aside from eating certain foods and avoiding many others, what I also find helped me was eating small portions and enjoying plain meals, one or two foods at once (such as boiled rice and chicken). I also avoid most seasonings except for salt and fresh extravirgin olive oil. Even now, I don’t eat 3 hours before going to bed and don’t drink anything 30 minutes prior to lying down. I try not to lift anything or do strenuous activities one or two hours after eating and avoid all foods I feel are not good for me, no matter how good they are for others.
When it comes to gastritis, we have to learn to manage our intake of certain foods, particularly high fiber foods, greasy, oily foods, junk food, carbonated and caffeinated beverages, acidic foods, excessively spicy or seasoned dishes and alcohol. The way we eat is just as important as what and how much we eat so we have to keep these aspects in mind when looking to treat gastritis and allow our stomach to heal itself. A diet plan suited to our individuals needs and well as overall good eating habits can help improve our digestive health to incredible extents.