Ulcers are different for everyone. Some people can eat almost anything they like while others experience excessive pain when they eat certain foods. This is because certain foods can promote excessive stomach acid production which, if able to travel up the esophagus, can create heartburn or further irritation.
For those who experience pain after eating, an ulcer diet can help. Even those who do not experience food problems may want to consider following an ulcer diet. However, an ulcer diet can promote ulcer healing by reducing the amount of acid produced by the stomach. This can help to prevent any long-term health complications that ulcers can cause when they remain untreated for a long period of time.
Recommended Ulcer Diet Foods
Some foods can help reduce stomach acid and promote healing. You should eat at least some of the foods on the recommended list daily. Remember, however, that you should never over-eat. Over-eating can increase stomach acid and cause bloating of the stomach, which can lead to heartburn.
Foods recommended on an ulcer diet include:
- Whole grain foods (bread, dinner rolls, oatmeal, enriched noodles, pita bread, tortillas, enriched barley, enriched rice, low fat crackers, English muffins, bagels, etc.)
- Vegetables – fresh, frozen or canned.
- Fruit – fresh, frozen, canned and juices (as tolerated) NOTE: You may want to avoid citrus fruits and juices because they can produce stomach acid.
- Low fat or nonfat dairy products (milk, yogurt, mild cheese, cottage cheese, etc.)
- Meat or meat substitutes (lean meats, peanut butter, dry or canned beans, smooth peanut or nut butters, eggs, tofu, soybean meat substitutes, dry peas, fish, etc.)
- Fats – use sparingly (olive oil, low fat salad dressing, mild gravy or sauces, sugar, honey, seedless jam, low fat margarine, light mayonnaise)
- Snacks – use sparingly (hard candy, gelatin, pretzels, rice cakes, sherbet, graham crackers, angel food cake, marshmallows)
- Spices and flavorings (mild flavorings, most herbs, salt, pepper, decaffeinated beverages as tolerated) ketchup, mustard and vinegar may also be used but only in moderation.
Ulcer Diet Foods to Avoid
Some foods can cause mild to severe irritation of your ulcer because they can increase the amount of acid your stomach produces. You may experience heartburn or pain after eating some or all of these foods:
- Breads and grains prepared with fat (croissants, granola, granola cereals, biscuits)
- Bread products with seeds, nuts or dried fruit
- Other grains (wild rice, bran cereal, high fat snack crackers
- Certain vegetables (vegetables prepared with fat, raw vegetables, cucumbers, onions, cauliflower, rutabagas, sauerkraut, corn, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green peppers, turnips)
- Tomatoes and tomato products (red pasta sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste, salsa)
- Citrus fruits like lemons, grapefruits, limes, pineapples, tangerines, oranges
- Figs and berries
- High fat dairy products (whole milk, chocolate milk, cream, strong cheeses, evaporated whole milk, buttermilk)
- Meat and meat substitutes (strongly flavored meats, lunch meats, corned beef, fried meats, fried fish, chunky peanut butter or nut butters, sardines, sausages, beans prepared with fat, seeds)
- Fats (gravy, high fat salad dressings, cream soups)
- Snacks (fried potatoes, cakes, chips, buttered popcorn, coconut, chocolate, doughnuts, pies, cookies, pastries, creamed candy, cake, sweets containing nuts or coconut or fruit)
- Carbonated or caffeinated beverages
- Sauce ( barbeque sauce, full flavored mayonnaise or sauces and dressings)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Spices (chili powder, horseradish, black pepper, garlic, chili pepper, chili sauce)
Finding Success with Your New Diet
Making so many changes to your diet can be scary, frustrating and even depressing if you have to give up some or a lot of your favorite foods. Success is important, however, to your health. For anyone who needs to start following an ulcer diet, there are some things that you can do that can help you succeed in your diet.
- Group foods so that you can easily remember which foods are on your do not eat list
- Before buying prepared foods, read the ingredients list.
- Allow yourself one of your favorite food items once a week if you do well the rest of the week. Set a designated day so that you don’t slip into constantly rewarding yourself.
- Look for menu plans and recipes that follow your new diet.
- Be open to trying new foods.
- Find ways to substitute foods that are on the recommended list in some of your favorite recipes.
- Create new recipes that follow your recommended foods items (for example, if you really like pasta, try finding a low fat sauce that doesn’t include tomatoes)
Talking to Your Doctor
Diet is the easiest and best way to cure your ulcers but sometimes it isn’t enough. If you continue to experience problems from ulcers, you should talk to your doctor. There may be a need for medication or other measures to help you heal. You should also talk to your doctor if you have any other health conditions that may be affected by shifting to ulcer diet.