A while back, I wrote an article, “Tips for Living with a Hiatal Hernia: Dealing with the Symptoms Naturally” (linked below) and I continue to hear from people who have a similar condition. Whether it’s in the comments or through e-mail, I’ve learned that a lot of people have this “nightmare” of a situation. I wanted to update my tips because I’ve recently come across a few other things that have helped me a great deal.
I hasten to say, obviously, that just because these have helped me DOES NOT necessarily mean that they will help you. However, because there is really so very little information out there about Hiatal Hernias, one of our best bets is to learn from each another.
My own experience has taught me that the following tips are a wonderful place to start when you’re trying to control your hiatal hernia naturally:
- Keep a food journal. Write down everything you eat and drink as well as whether you experience hiatal hernia problems during or after each meal. If you get hiccups, write it down. If you have heartburn or pain, write it down. If you feel like food is trapped in the esophagus, write it down!
- Keep an activity journal. The following will show you why this is important.
- Do NOT lift heavy objects. Some of my worst hiatal hernia episodes occurred after lifting heavy bags of birdseed. Even lifting a heavy trash bag out of a trash can can be too much for a hernia.
- Don’t move furniture around. This one surprised me but, after an especially bad episode with my hernia (food got trapped for hours and I was in agony), I thought back over what I had done the previous day. I realized I had not lifted anything… then it hit me, I had rearranged some furniture on the carport which meant tugging at a very heavy table and sliding a few chairs around. Apparently pushing and pulling heavy furniture is as bad as lifting it when you have a temperamental hernia.
- Do NOT hang upside down (inversion tables, playgrounds…). Okay, this one sounds kind of nuts – but it is a nightmare for hernias. I had to give up something I dearly loved (yoga) simply because many of the poses involved too much stress for my hiatal hernia.
- Eat SLOWLY and chew each bite mindfully. It honestly makes a world of difference. I used to eat fairly fast because I didn’t want my husband or daughters having to wait for me to get through. I quickly decided that I’d rather be the last one eating than to be the first one in pain. In fact, I make a point of even putting my fork or spoon down every now and again to make sure I go slow and easy.
- Carbonated beverages are not a good idea. AT ALL. Switching exclusively to water and/or tea is the way to go. It can be tough if you’re used to soft drinks but, trust this former Diet Dr. Pepper addict, the improvement is worth it. Besides, tea actually does taste better!
- Papaya Enzymes are phenomenal. I take them after every meal as well as when I feel a little “too full.”
- Aloe Vera Juice is also something I always keep on hand. It’s wonderful for heartburn, indigestion, and drinking it regularly seems to help with all of my hiatal hernia issues.
Due to the fact that I started keeping a VERY thorough food journal (when you’re tired of being in pain, you get drastic!), I discovered that a few different foods smelled trouble for me.
First of all, I found that, more times than not, when I got painful hiatal hernia related hiccups, I was eating chicken or something containing chicken. I even referred to them as “chiccups” because I was almost always eating chicken. So, I decided to give chicken up and see what happened.
I saw a huge improvement immediately.
Through similar detective work with my food journal, I found that “dense” meats (hot dogs, ribs, pork chops, roast) caused problems for me. Fish, “thin” hamburgers, pulled pork (tender), bacon, and breakfast sausage didn’t give me any problems (thank goodness!), so I decided to stick with them.
I’ve also found that food combinations can cause as much trouble as certain foods, individually, can. If rice, for example, is paired with a meat – I am apt to have issues. So, if I’m eating rice with meat, I now know to eat very, very slowly and chew my food like my very life depends upon it.
Your food journal will help you discover problematic foods as well as combinations. Having a journal helped me discover that thin hamburgers weren’t the problem – it was the bread they were on. Most people with hiatal hernias cannot tolerate bread at all.
My journal also saved me from having to give up shrimp. I found that it wasn’t the shrimp, itself, that was the problem (although I do now eat extra slowly when eating shrimp) – the problem was the combination of shrimp with rice, two foods I almost always paired.
Licorice for Esophageal Healing
An individual with a hiatal hernia has an esophagus that’s under a lot of stress – the esophageal sphincter (LES), in particular, takes a beating when the hernia is doing its thing. Fortunately, we can help heal the area and improve inflammation by eating and drinking things that aren’t acidic or harmful. We can also promote healing with licorice – one of the few things shown to help heal the inflammation.
I take a licorice capsule daily and have for about a year. I would highly recommend it for anyone with a hiatal hernia.
Not only does the hernia, itself, wreak havoc on the esophagus, the acid reflux we frequently experience does as well. Here is an excellent article I found online: 5 Supplements That Heal Tissue Damage Caused By Acid Reflux. Excellent advice, here.