Gastritis is a stomach condition in which the lining of the stomach becomes acutely or chronically inflamed. This condition can be caused by traumatic injury, surgery, infection, medication, alcohol abuse, allergy, food poisoning and autoimmune disorders. Following a gastritis diet that restricts or eliminates certain foods can help reduce stomach inflammation, alleviate the symptoms of gastritis and hasten healing. An effective gastritis diet reduces or eliminates spicy foods, dairy products and alcohol, and it increases the intake of fiber and low-fat foods.
Symptoms of gastritis are caused by stomach inflammation and its consequences, such as digestion problems and acid reflux. People with gastritis often experience stomach pain, chest pain, bloating, belching, nausea and vomiting. In cases of advanced gastritis, the stomach begins to bleed, and vomit or stools might contain blood.
Gastritis often can be cured by eliminating the source of the inflammation. For example, if the symptoms are caused by medication or a food allergy, then eliminating that food from the diet or ceasing to use the medication will promote stomach healing. When gastritis is caused by an infection with the Helicobacteri pylori bacteria, it can be cured completely with a course of antibiotics that can kill the bacteria.
Regardless of the cause of the condition, following a gastritis diet can help reduce the severity of symptoms and help the stomach heal more quickly. Modifying the diet is extremely useful, even when the cause is not diet-related, because certain foods are known to irritate the stomach, and others provide a more soothing influence. A change in eating habits, including meal schedule, also can help alleviate gastritis symptoms.
The core of this diet is the elimination or reduced intake of foods that can worsen stomach inflammation. These foods include spices such as pepper, chili and curry spices, as well as caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, cocoa, fats and fatty foods, citrus, onions, garlic and dairy products. All of these foods can trigger gastritis symptoms if eaten in too great a quantity. Some, such as alcohol and caffeine, can trigger symptoms even if used in small amounts.
Some foods, such as milk, legumes, broccoli, cabbage and certain fruits, can cause excess gas. These can be avoided to reduce belching and abdominal bloating. Cutting down on salt also can help reduce bloating. Increasing fiber intake can help many people with gastritis, but however for some, increased fiber intake can cause further digestive problems. It is useful to keep fiber intake at a consistent level from day to day, to maintain bowel regularity.
Following a gastritis diet can include changes in eating habits and eating schedules as well as in the foods that are eaten. Maintaining a mealtime schedule, in which meals are eaten at consistent times each day, can help control stomach acid production. It usually is not necessary to eat smaller, more frequent meals unless larger meals make symptoms worse. Eating slowly, chewing thoroughly and stopping before the stomach is full all help ensure that the stomach is not overloaded with difficult-to-digest food.
Someone who wants to follow a gastritis diet should consult his or her doctor before beginning the diet, to ensure that following a new diet will not interfere with medical treatment. Some people find that it is useful to consult a nutritionist or dietitian for professional advice on maintaining a diet to manage gastritis symptoms. Another important consideration is that some people might find that certain foods affect them differently than they affect other people with gastritis. For example, some people with gastritis can tolerate potatoes and tomatoes, but others cannot. Therefore, trial and error is sometimes a necessary part of devising a diet for gastritis.