Good and Bad Foods for Peptic Ulcers

What You Should Eat if You Have Peptic Ulcers

Man tearing loaf of bread in two
Peptic Ulcer Foods. Howard George/The Image Bank/Getty Images

For some people, certain foods seem to aggravate their symptoms of peptic ulcers. For them, they need a diet that is designed to accomplish the following:

  • Restrict or avoid those foods that may cause irritation to the digestive system
  • Reduce excessive acid production
  • Prevent unpleasant side effects, such as heartburn.

What are Peptic Ulcers?

Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside lining of your stomach and the upper portion of your small intestine. The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is stomach pain.

Peptic ulcers include:

  • Gastric ulcers occur on the inside of the stomach.
  • Duodenal ulcers occur on the inside of the upper portion of your small intestine (duodenum).

The most common causes of peptic ulcers are infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and long-term use of aspirin and certain other painkillers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, others). Stress and spicy foods do not cause peptic ulcers. However, they can make your symptoms worse.


  • Burning stomach pain
  • Feeling of fullness, bloating or belching
  • Fatty food intolerance
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea

The most common peptic ulcer symptom is burning stomach pain. Stomach acid makes the pain worse. Having an empty stomach can also worsen the pain. The pain can often be relieved by eating certain foods that buffer stomach acid or by taking an acid-reducing medication, but then it may come back. The pain may be worse between meals and at night.

Peptic Ulcer Diet Points To Remember

  • Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day instead of 3 larger meals. It is important that you avoid overeating. Frequent, smaller meals will be more comfortable and easier on the stomach than two or three large meals a day.
  • Eat a diet rich in fiber, especially from fruits and vegetables
  • Rest and relax a few minutes before and after each meal, as well as remaining relaxed during meals.
  • Eat slowly and chew your food well
  • Avoid eating within 3 hours before bedtime
  • Eat foods that are low fat
  • Avoid foods that are fried
  • Avoid foods that are spicy

Cut down on the following foods:

  • Coffee
  • Decaffeinated coffee
  • Tea
  • Cola drinks
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomato-based products
  • Chocolate
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Quit smoking

These weekly and daily menus were developed for the chronic heartburn sufferers, but they can be used for ulcer sufferers. The goal is to reduce acid production, decrease irritation, and prevent heartburn.

Foods Recommended for the Peptic Ulcer Diet

Breads and Grains

Whole-grain or enriched, seedless breads, and grains:

  • Breads
  • Bagels
  • Tortillas
  • English muffins
  • Hamburger and hot dog buns
  • Dinner rolls
  • Pita bread
  • Cereals
  • Enriched rice
  • Enriched barley
  • Enriched noodles, spaghetti, macaroni, and other pastas
  • French toast, muffins, pancakes, and waffles made with low-fat ingredients
  • Low fat crackers


  • Fresh
  • Frozen
  • Canned


  • Fresh
  • Frozen
  • Canned
  • Fruit juice as tolerated

Milk and Dairy Products

  • Low fat and non-fat milk and milk products
  • Cheese with less than 5 grams of fat per ounce
  • Plain mild cheeses
  • Low-fat and nonfat yogurt
  • Low-fat cottage cheese

Meat and Meat Substitutes

All lean meat:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Veal
  • Poultry (without the skin)
  • All fresh, frozen, or canned fish packed in water
  • Crisp bacon
  • Lean ham
  • Eggs
  • Smooth peanut butter and nut butters
  • Soybean curd (tofu) and other meat substitutes
  • Dry beans and peas prepared without fat
  • Soups
  • Mildly seasoned meat stock or cream soups

Fats (use sparingly)

  • Non-fat or low-fat dressings and mayonnaise
  • Non-fat or low fat salad dressings
  • Mildly flavored gravies and sauces
  • Light or low-fat margarine
  • Sugar
  • Syrup
  • Honey
  • Jelly
  • Seedless jam

Snacks (use sparingly)

  • Hard candies
  • Marshmallows
  • Sherbet
  • Fruit ice
  • Gelatin
  • Angel food cake
  • Graham crackers
  • Pretzels (soft or hard)
  • Rice cakes


  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Mild flavorings
  • Most herbs
  • Ketchup, mustard and vinegar in moderation
  • All beverages as tolerated

Foods to Be Avoided on the Peptic Ulcer Diet

Breads and Grains

Breads and cereals prepared with high-fat ingredients:

  • Croissants
  • Biscuits
  • Granola-type cereals
  • Bread or bread products with nuts or dried fruit
  • Seeds in or on breads and crackers
  • Bran cereals
  • Wild rice
  • High fat snack crackers


  • Raw vegetables
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Green peppers
  • Rutabagas
  • Turnips
  • Sauerkraut
  • Vegetables prepared with added fat
  • Tomatoes and tomato products


  • Lemons
  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Pineapples
  • Tangerines
  • Citrus juices such as orange, pineapple, and grapefruit juice
  • Berries and figs

Milk and Dairy Products

  • Whole milk
  • Chocolate milk
  • Buttermilk made with whole milk
  • Evaporated whole milk
  • Cream
  • Strong flavored cheeses

Meat and Meat Substitutes

  • Highly seasoned meats: corned beef, luncheon meats, frankfurters, and other sausages
  • Highly seasoned poultry
  • Highly seasoned fish: sardines and anchovies
  • Fried meats
  • Fried poultry
  • Fried fish
  • Fatty meat
  • Dry beans and peas prepared with fat
  • Chunky peanut butter
  • Nuts
  • Seeds (such as sunflower seeds)


  • Gravies
  • Cream soups
  • Highly seasoned salad dressings


  • High-fat snacks: chips, fried potatoes, buttered popcorn
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pies
  • Pastries
  • Doughnuts
  • Coconut
  • Chocolate
  • Creamed candy
  • All sweets and desserts containing nuts, coconut or fruit


  • Carbonated beverages
  • Coffee (regular or decaffeinated)
  • Caffeine-containing beverages: coffee, tea, colas, orange soda, Dr. Pepper
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Strongly flavored seasonings and condiments: garlic, barbecue sauce, chili sauce, chili pepper, chili powder, horseradish, black pepper
  • Highly spiced foods
  • Pickles
  • Nicotine
  • Aspirin and aspirin-containing medicines
  • NSAIDs
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