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Nutrition Tips to Help Manage Hiatus Hernia Symptoms

Hiatus hernia can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms. Learn simple dietary tips to help manage your condition and relieve discomfort.

Nutrition Tips to Relieve Hiatal Hernia Symptoms

Hiatus hernia, also known as hiatal hernia, is a medical condition where part of the stomach gets pushed up through an opening in the diaphragm and into the chest cavity. It can cause symptoms such as heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and regurgitation. Fortunately, some dietary changes can help alleviate these symptoms. This article will discuss what a hiatus hernia is and how nutrition can help manage this condition.


Stomach with and without a Hiatal Hernia
Above: the image above gives an example of one type of hiatal hernia.

Causes of Hiatal Hernia

The exact cause of hiatal hernia is unknown but can occur during pregnancy, as we age, or from weakened muscles in the diaphragm and abdominal wall. To diagnose a hiatal hernia, a doctor or gastroenterologist will conduct a physical exam and may also use imaging tests such as an X-ray or an ultrasound to get a better view of the area. Other tests, such as endoscopy, may also be used.

Treatment typically involves lifestyle changes and medications to reduce stomach acid production if reflux becomes a problem. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary if other treatments fail to provide relief from symptoms.

How a Dietitian can Help 

Because a hiatal hernia is a digestive disorder affecting the diaphragm and stomach, a dietitian can help to manage symptoms through dietary changes. 

Symptoms experienced from hiatal hernia can differ considerably from person to person. A dietitian's role is to provide individual nutrition guidance based on your circumstances and suggest lifestyle modifications that may help reduce the severity of symptoms. A dietitian can also provide support and guidance in making sure you are meeting your nutritional needs. With the right nutrition information tailored to each individual's needs, a dietitian can be a valuable resource for those suffering from hiatal hernia.

Where to Begin

Hiatal hernia can cause uncomfortable symptoms like heartburn (reflux), chest pain, and difficulty swallowing. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to manage your hiatal hernia. A good place to begin is to start a food symptoms diary. Keeping a food diary can be an invaluable tool for understanding how certain foods affect you alongside other events happening at the time. This will then enable you and your dietitian to prepare a nutrition plan tailored to meet your needs.

With this in mind, let's look at some foods that can be troublesome for people with hiatal hernia.

Foods that Might Cause Symptoms

Certain foods may be more likely to trigger hiatal hernia symptoms due to their effect on your stomach. Nonetheless, it's important to remember that everyone is different, so it is beneficial to understand what affects you individually.

Acidic foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, and vinegar.


Carbonated drinks can cause increased pressure in the abdomen and worsen symptoms like heartburn and acid reflux. 



Higher-fat foods take longer to digest compared to lower-fat foods. 

Spearmint and Peppermint

Spicy foods can irritate the lining of the stomach.

Foods that can Help

Enjoying a balanced diet low in fat and high in fibre, lean protein, and other essential nutrients can benefit those suffering from hiatal hernia. It is also important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day and incorporating fermented foods rich in probiotics into your diet.

Other Lifestyle Suggestions

Making a few lifestyle changes can help reduce hiatal hernia symptoms. Eating smaller meals more frequently and avoiding large meals can help reduce pressure on the diaphragm and ease discomfort. Gentle exercise such as walking or swimming and reducing stress levels can also be beneficial. Additionally, sitting upright after eating can help keep food from entering the esophagus and causing irritation.


If you would like the assistance of an Accredited Practising Dietitian, Kim can be reached for further information and scheduling.



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