What to Eat if You Have Gastritis

Dietary Recommendations for Better Management

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Gastritis often causes a burning stomach pain, which may be worse after eating fatty or spicy foods. Other symptoms, such as nausea, bloating, and belching, are also common. One of the first changes you can make is following a gastritis diet, which can help you manage your symptoms and may even help prevent gastritis. The basic tenet of the gastritis diet is to avoid acidic, spicy foods in favor of low-acid, low sugar foods.

Benefits

As with many health conditions, there are certain risk factors that make a person more likely to develop gastritis. Some of these factors, such as genetics, are not something you have control over. Others, like lifestyle factors, are modifiable. 

Diet is one area where you may feel motivated to make changes even before you have been diagnosed with gastritis. The symptoms of the condition may make you feel sick after eating certain foods, which you’ll naturally want to avoid.

Even if there aren’t specific meals that seem to irritate your stomach, having chronic stomach problems will likely make you more aware of what you eat when you eat, and how much you eat. Following a gastritis diet can help you manage symptoms and may even help you avoid developing the condition if you have risk factors. 

If you have been diagnosed with gastritis, paying attention to what you eat can help keep the condition from getting worse. The complications of gastritis can lead to other health problems. 

For example, stomach bleeding can cause low levels of red blood cells (anemia). If the stomach lining is weakened over time (atrophy) it may increase your risk of developing stomach cancer. 

How It Works

If you have gastritis, there are several kinds of treatment your doctor might want you to try, but they’ll likely start by having you try making some changes to your diet. 

Reducing or cutting out foods that can irritate your stomach lining can make your symptoms better. A gastritis diet can also help prevent the tissue from becoming more damaged and give it time to heal.

When the lining is inflamed, it can’t produce enough of the gastric juices needed for digestion. It also isn’t making the mucus that protects it from the stomach acid, which can further damage the tissue. 

The broad goal of a gastric diet is to reduce inflammation. There are general recommendations you can start with, such as avoiding foods and drinks frequently linked to stomach irritation (like coffee and acidic fruit). From there you can customize a gastritis diet to suit your individual needs and preferences. 

For example, some foods that are typically avoided on the gastritis diet might not bother you as long as you stick to small portions or only have them occasionally. Alternatively, food on the approved list might make your symptoms worse, fail to fit in with your overall dietary needs and preferences or be off-limits for you due to a medical reason (such as a food allergy). 

It will be helpful to work with your doctor and other health professionals, such as a registered dietician or nutritionist, to assemble a gastritis diet plan that works best for you.

Duration

Gastritis can be a temporary condition or a chronic one. The length of time you’ll need to stick to a gastritis diet will depend on many different factors, such as the symptoms you’re having, how long you’ve had them, the cause of your stomach inflammation, and the other treatments your doctor has prescribed. 

In some cases, simply removing a specific trigger is enough to improve your gastritis symptoms. For example, if you have been taking ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain relievers (NSAIDs) and have gastritis, it may get better if you stop taking these medications.

If you have gastritis due to another health condition, you may need a more long-term strategy for managing your symptoms. The choices you make about your diet will likely be among the more permanent changes you make. 

If you are prone to stomach irritation, you may find avoiding caffeine and spicy meals to be key for preventing symptoms. If you only experience symptoms occasionally or they are mild, you might be able to deviate from your gastritis diet once in a while, but you will want to check with your doctor first. 

What to Eat

Compliant

  • Beans and legumes (as tolerated)

  • Eggs, egg whites, or egg substitutes (not fried)

  • Seafood, shellfish (not fried)

  • Honey

  • Low-acid vegetables (cucumber, white potato, carrots)

  • Low-sugar, low-acid fruit (pumpkin, blueberries, strawberries, apples)

  • Mild, low-salt cheese

  • Oats, barley

  • Peppermint, ginger, turmeric

  • Plain, low-fat yogurt

  • Probiotic-rich foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha)

  • Rice

  • Skinless lean poultry (chicken, turkey)

  • Whole grain bread and pasta

Non-Compliant

  • Acidic fruits (citrus) and vegetables (onion)

  • Alcohol

  • Chocolate

  • Coffee and Tea

  • Corn and products made with corn (pasta, bread)

  • Dairy products

  • Energy drinks

  • Fatty/greasy food, fast food, spicy food

  • Fried or hard-boiled eggs

  • Garlic (small amounts as tolerated)

  • Ice cream, cakes, and pastries, baked goods

  • Marinades, salsa, mayonnaise, creamy sauces

  • Nuts and nut butter (small amounts may be tolerated)

  • Potato chips, packaged snacks

  • Processed meat (sausage, hot dogs), lunch meat

  • Red meat, duck, goose

  • Refined grains, fresh bread, pasta made with refined flour

  • Smoked meats

  • Soda, carbonated beverages

  • Soy products (tofu, soy milk)

  • Spices, herbs, seasonings (especially black pepper)

  • Tomato and tomato products (juice, paste, sauce)

Fruits and Vegetables: Produce that is very acidic, especially citrus fruit and tomatoes, are best avoided if you have gastritis. Vegetables used to add spice or a lot of flavors, such as onions, can also be hard to tolerate if you have stomach irritation. Instead, choose low-acid or more neutral (alkaline) fruits and veggies—preferably those that are good sources of fiber—such as apples, berries, pumpkin, and carrots. 

Grains: For the most part you’ll want to choose whole grain bread, brown rice, pasta, and other grains. However, if you are having gastritis symptoms that are making it harder for you to eat, plain white rice or white potato can be easier to digest

Oats, barley, and quinoa are other nutritious options. If you do not eat wheat, avoid pasta alternatives or bread made from corn, which is not approved for a gastritis diet. 

Dairy: You’ll want to avoid full-fat dairy products, but low-fat yogurt that’s also low in sugar and packed with probiotics can be a healthy addition to a gastritis diet. Some hard cheeses that are low in salt may be tolerated in small portions. You’ll want to avoid any sauces, fillings, or puddings made with rich, heavy cream. 

Protein: Eggs, egg whites, and egg substitutes can be an excellent source of protein, however, you will want to prepare them soft-boiled, poached, or scrambled rather than fried. Avoid pairing them with salty, processed, breakfast meat like sausage or ham, refrain from adding butter or milk, and avoid seasoning (even black pepper). 

Red meat is not approved, but you may choose from lean cuts of turkey or chicken and some seafood (as long as it isn’t fried). 

Nuts and nut butter, as well as beans and legumes, can be high in fat but they are versatile sources of protein to include in your diet. Start with smaller portions (without added sugar) and see what you are able to tolerate. 

Desserts: Any food that is high in fat and sugar should be avoided on the gastritis diet. Baked goods, pastries, and ice cream or puddings tend to be rich and can irritate an inflamed stomach (especially if they are made with dairy). Chocolate is also not approved. 

To add flavor and sweetness without adding sugar, try honey, ginger, peppermint, and turmeric, which can also be soothing to the digestive system.

Beverages: Some people with mild gastritis can tolerate weak tea or coffee with a splash of low-fat milk or non-dairy creamer. Honey can also be added to tea. In general, though, these beverages are very acidic and not approved for a gastritis diet.

Cold drinks with a lot of sugar, such as soda and energy drinks, are also not approved. Acidic juices (such as orange juice or other citrus fruit, as well as tomato juice) are not approved. Some fruit juice may be OK, but choose varieties that are low in sugar. 

Avoid alcoholic beverages, including wine, beer, and cocktails. If you drink alcohol, your doctor will likely advise you to stop if you have gastritis. 

Recommended Timing

When your digestive system is under stress or not working optimally, the amount of food you eat and how long you go between meals may contribute to irritation. 

If you are prone to having an upset stomach due to gastritis, you may find it helpful to change the timing of your meals and snacks. Try eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day as opposed to sitting down to three larger ones. 

If you don’t feel as satisfied when eating less at each meal, add a couple of healthy snacks throughout the day.

Modifications

If you have other health conditions or dietary needs, you may need to adjust the gastritis diet. Gastritis can be caused by other chronic medical conditions, be linked to using certain medications, or be worsened by lifestyle factors—some of which you may be able to change. 

You may already follow a particular diet to manage a health condition or avoid food allergens, or you may have specific dietary preferences. 

You may already be avoiding certain foods that would not be approved for a gastritis diet. For example, if you are lactose intolerant, you are likely already limiting or avoiding dairy products. 

If you have celiac disease and need to avoid gluten and wheat, you may need to be careful about the gluten-free alternatives you choose. Some popular options, such as pasta made from corn, are not suitable for a gastritis diet. 

If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, you may rely on soy products as the main part of your diet. Soy is typically avoided on a gastritis diet. To ensure you are getting adequate nutrition, you may find it helpful to talk to a dietician about other possibilities. 

If you are concerned about losing certain staples of your diet, you can start by reducing your intake rather than cutting them out altogether. In smaller portions, some of the foods typically avoided on a gastritis diet may not bother you. 

At certain times in your life, your dietary needs may change. This is especially true if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. During this time, your nutrition needs will be increased. At the same time, you may be more likely to have gastrointestinal symptoms (both from gastritis if you have it and from other changes happening in your body). 

To make sure you are getting enough nourishment and keeping your symptoms under control, you may need to be more flexible with your diet. Let your body be your guide. Some foods that didn’t bother you before might start to put you off. You may also “crave” certain foods. 

Other health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, may be influenced by your diet. While a gastritis diet advises you to avoid sugar if you have diabetes and experience an episode of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) your doctor will likely have you eat something sweet or take a glucose tablet. 

If you are managing one or more medical conditions that are affected by what you eat, make sure you ask your doctor about how to best prioritize your dietary needs. Your doctor, dietician, or nutritionist can help you make sure you are effectively managing your gastritis symptoms and eating a diet that provides the energy and nutrition you need to support your whole-body health. 

Cooking Tips

The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re preparing or choosing food on a gastritis diet is steering clear of any food that is fried, greasy, fatty, or very sweet and rich. 

Most notably, these guidelines rule out fast food, but even common preparations or styles of cooking you may be used to having at home might need to be adjusted on a gastritis diet.

Baking, boiling, steaming, and poaching are some cooking methods less likely to contribute to stomach irritation. 

Whether you’re preparing meat, eggs, or veggies, it’s also important to keep in mind that certain ingredients used for flavor can contribute to irritation. While you might assume you’ll want to avoid very spicy foods, there are some ingredients you might not expect to be inflammatory. 

Check the ingredients on packaged seasonings, dressings, glazes, or marinades, as they likely contain many spices or herbs. Even relatively basic options like black pepper and garlic can irritate gastritis. 

Avoid using large amounts of butter, tomato-based pasta sauce, or rich, creamy, sauces like alfredo when cooking pasta. Try a dash of salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil instead. 

Considerations

In addition to the specifics of your gastritis diet plan, you’ll want to think about how changing what you eat might affect other areas of your life. 

When you make changes to your diet, you may also make other adjustments, such as when you’re grocery shopping and planning meals for your family, school, and work. 

You may also have to pay more attention to how food factors into your social life, such as dining out with friends or attending events where you will need to think about your meal options. 

General Nutrition

You’ll have many tasty and nutritious options to choose from on the list of approved foods, but there may be some foods you’re used to eating that you’ll have to reduce or eliminate completely. 

Sweets and fast food are tasty and usually OK in moderation, but if you have gastritis avoiding these foods can make a big difference to your symptoms. 

You might miss your favorite treats, but french fries, pastries, and fried meat and seafood don’t enrich your diet by way of essential vitamins and minerals—so you won’t miss them in terms of nutrition. 

In addition to improving your symptoms and preventing gastritis from getting worse, avoiding heavily processed food that’s high in fat, sugar, and salt can also improve your overall health. 

Safety

The overall recommendations for a gastritis diet are likely safe for most people, as they aren’t overly restrictive. You can also adapt your meal plans if you are following a special diet. 

If you have gastritis chronically or due to an ongoing medical condition, your doctor might want you to take medication. It’s important to tell your doctor about your diet as well as any nutritional supplements you take. 

Most medications (whether prescribed or over-the-counter) used to treat gastritis are not likely to interact with foods approved for the diet, but depending on how you adjust the diet to suit your individual tastes and needs, you will want to be aware of the potential for foods and drinks to affect certain drugs.

For example, antacids such as Tums, Rolaids, Mylanta, and Alka-Seltzer may help relieve symptoms of gastritis. Eating calcium-containing foods, such as dairy products or juices enriched with calcium, at the same time as taking an antacid can make them ineffective. You should also avoid taking a calcium supplement or vitamin with calcium with an antacid. 

Drinking alcohol can also make antacids less effective as well as interact with other medications used to treat gastritis, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or histamine 2 (H2) blockers including: 

  • Prilosec
  • Nexium
  • Prevacid
  • Protonix
  • Zantac
  • Pepcid

These medications reduce the amount of acid in your stomach, while alcohol increases acid production, which can worsen symptoms of gastritis or make the condition worse. 

If you have gastritis from infection with H. pylori your doctor may want you to take antibiotics, which interact with a number of foods, drinks, and other medications. You may also need to take antibiotics for another reason while you are also being treated for gastritis. Certain classes of antibiotics interact with medications used to treat gastritis.

While you may not be putting your health at risk, it’s best to talk to your doctor before changing your medication or diet if you have gastritis. 

A Word From Verywell

Gastritis can be painful, but there are some changes you can make that may markedly improve your symptoms and prevent the condition from getting worse. Eating healthy foods and avoiding those that can trigger inflammation, such as those that are fatty or acidic, can both lessen the pain and other symptoms associated with gastritis as well as prevent irritation of the stomach lining from getting worse.

Your doctor may also want you to take medications to treat gastritis, but they may not work as well if you include certain foods and drinks in your diet. For the most part, a gastritis diet provides adequate nutrition and can be adapted to suit your unique dietary needs and preferences. 

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Article Sources

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Additional Reading

  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Gastritis. NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Published August 18, 2019.

  • NHS Choices. Gastritis. Health A to Z. Published 2019.

  • Sipponen P, Maaroos HI. Chronic gastritisScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. 2015;50(6):657-667. doi:10.3109/00365521.2015.1019918