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Hernia – Foods To Try And Avoid

By Dr. Pradeep Kumar N +2 more

Hernia is a condition that can affect anyone but is more common in males. When there is a weak spot in your muscles or fatty tissues, the internal organs are able to push through this opening. This results in a bulge or swelling on the skin and may be accompanied by severe pain. There are many types of hernias, but the most common one is an inguinal hernia. This hernia occurs when the intestines push through the inguinal canal near the inner part of your thigh, in the upper groin region. 

There are many types of other hernias which may be less common than an inguinal hernia, such as Hiatal hernias, umbilical hernias, incisional hernias and more. Some hernias will be small and not have any symptoms associated with them in the beginning. However, most hernias will get worse with time and require some kind of medical attention. If you have a hernia, you need to speak with your doctor and find the best course of action for your case:

Did You Know?

  • Hernias can be caused by a combination of muscle weakness and increased abdominal pressure. source: FDA
  • Surgical repair is the most common treatment for hernias, with options including laparoscopic and open repair. source: FDA
  • Inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia, occurring in the groin area. source: FDA
  • Inguinal hernia repair is a common surgical procedure, with over 800,000 repairs performed annually in the United States. source: NCBI
  • Inguinal hernias are more common in males, accounting for about 90% of all cases. source: NCBI

9 Best foods that can be helpful for people with hernia

1. Non-citrus fruits

Fruits like bananas, apples, pears and melons are great sources of nutrients and fibre. The increased fibre intake will be necessary for smoother bowel movements.  

2. High-fibre greens

Spinach, green peas, methi (fenugreek), water spinach and mustard leaves are some excellent leafy green options for fibre. These greens are also packed with vitamins and minerals compared to other foods.

3. Fibre-rich veggies

Carrots, sweet potatoes and cucumber are three high-fibre veggies to add to your diet. With more fibre, you can decrease your risk of constipation and ease the pressure that your intestines undergo.  

Over the years, I have found that it is beneficial for patients with hernias to eat their meals at least three to four hours before lying down. I would also suggest to perhaps avoid bedtime snacks. When you lie down immediately after eating or consume snacks before bed, it can increase the pressure in the abdomen, potentially worsening the symptoms of a hernia.

Dr. Smita Barode, BAMS

4. Lean protein

Protein is an essential nutrient for the repair and building of tissues in the body. Many animal sources of protein come with loads of unhealthy fats, which can contribute to obesity. Increased weight can stress out your digestive system and strain your hernia further. Lean protein like skinless chicken, white fish, yoghurt, beans, lentils, peanut butter and low-fat milk can increase your protein intake without boosting your fat levels.  

5. Healthy oils

Certain oils contain high levels of trans fats that are very unhealthy for your overall health. Unhealthy cooking oils may also be involved with digestive issues and heartburn, both of which are bad news for people with a hernia. Opt for healthier oils like olive and coconut oil wherever possible.  

6. Whole grains

Whole grains are the best alternative to refined grains, flour and food items. Refined grains and the flour produced from them are often called empty carbs since they bring no fibre to your diet. Whole grains, on the other hand, are rich in nutrients and fibre.  

7. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a grain with numerous health benefits, including a high fibre content. But oatmeal also benefits people with a hernia by being a low-acidic food. Acidic foods can increase the symptoms you face, but with oatmeal, you can decrease the chance of this occurring.  

8. Water

Water is required for nearly every cell in your body to function normally and is especially essential for smooth digestive function. Make sure you drink enough water every day without drinking too much at one time. Too much water in a short period can result in bloating and this may be painful if you have a hernia.  

9. Mild seasoning

Nobody enjoys bland food, but when you have a hernia, you need to pay extra attention to the seasoning you use when preparing your food. Do not add excessive amounts of spicy, acidic powders since these can increase your pain when passing stools.  

In my experience, I have observed that avoiding acidic condiments like tomato sauce can be beneficial for patients with hernia. These foods have the potential to irritate the hernia and worsen symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation. Based on what I’ve seen, I would advise you to opt for non-acidic alternatives to minimize discomfort and support your overall digestive health.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Foods to avoid with hernia

1. Large meals

Eating large meals puts sudden pressure inside your stomach, which may result in more pain from your hernia, particularly Hiatal and umbilical hernias. 

2. Citrus foods

Citrus Foods can increase your risk of acidity and similar conditions (like GERD), which will affect your hernia symptoms. 

3. Alcoholic beverages

Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages can lead to a host of health issues as well as digestive problems. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes your body pass more water than normal. You may end up dehydrated due to this, which will negatively impact your digestive system and any associated hernias. 

4. Too much fibre

Although most people can benefit from more fibre in their diet, some foods contain excessive amounts of this nutrient. Mushrooms, cabbage, broccoli, onions, garlic, carbonated beverages and chewing gum may all contribute to higher levels of fibre and gas. In general, these should be avoided or limited as much as possible. 

5. Fried foods

Wherever possible, opt for sauteing, boiling and baking rather than frying your food. Not only will this decrease your fat intake, but it is also healthier for your digestive system. 

Did you know that eating a large meal can sometimes contribute to the occurrence of strangulated hernias? Strangulated hernias involve a segment of bowel becoming trapped and experiencing reduced blood supply, and the increased volume from a large meal can potentially aggravate this complication. So, it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes and maintain a healthy diet to minimize the risk of hernias.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

3 Hernia-friendly recipes to try

1. Veggie oats upma

  • Heat half a teaspoon of healthy oil in a pan and add whole oats (crushed, rolled or broken).
  • Roast for a few minutes until crispy, then remove it from the pan and let it cool.
  • Add two more tablespoons of oil and start adding a teaspoon of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal and urad dal one by one. 
  • Add in a small handful of cashews and stir until it is golden brown.
  • Next, add the vegetables one at a time till each one is cooked, starting with a quarter cup of onions, half a teaspoon of finely chopped ginger, then 1-2 chilies, then a few curry leaves.
  • Throw in a quarter cup each of green peas, carrots, and French beans and stir for a few minutes.
  • Add one and a half cups of plain water and let it boil until the veggies are cooked.
  • Lastly, add back the roasted oats and cover to allow the mixture to cook through (add salt to taste as per your preference).

2. Stomach smoothie 

  • Soak a few dates in water for about 20 minutes, then dry it. 
  • Wash a dry about 1 cup of spinach as well as one stalk of celery.
  • Peel 1 banana and slice into rough chunks.
  • Add all the above ingredients to a blender along with a small handful of almonds, chia seeds, diced apple and about 1 cup of water.
  • Blend until smooth and drink immediately (not for persons who are obese and diabetic).

3. Lemony anti-inflammatory snack

  • Add almost 1 cup of lemon juice to a pan along with six tablespoons of honey,  ½ teaspoon of turmeric and three tablespoons of flavourless gelatin. 
  • You can use slightly diluted lime juice instead of lemon juice. 
  • Let the mixture gently cook on low heat for a few minutes till all the gelatin has dissolved (do not bring it to a boil) while stirring gently. 
  • Pour the mixture into silicone moulds or an ice-cube tray after it cools down a bit.
  • Refrigerate overnight and serve as a snack. 

Also Read: Groin Pain When Walking: Understanding the Causes and Solutions


Managing your diet when you have a hernia depends on a few key factors – smooth digestion, avoiding certain unhealthy foods and limiting your risk of stomach problems. Eating healthy foods to support your body’s immune system and cut down on inflammation may also prove useful. Remember, diet alone cannot solve your hernia issues, but it can allow you to cope with the condition better. For any new changes to your diet or lifestyle, speak with your doctor. 


What foods to avoid if you have a hernia?

You should avoid any foods that can upset your stomach and aggravate constipation or bloating, such as spicy foods, citrus foods, oily fried foods and foods without fibre. 

What is good to eat when you have a hernia?

Fibre-rich, low-acidic foods like apples, pears, carrots, sweet potatoes and leafy greens are good dietary choices when you have a hernia. 

Does alcohol make a hernia worse?

Alcohol, smoking and diabetes have all been linked to the weakening of the cremaster muscle (which supports the testicle). This may worsen your existing hernia or increase the risk of developing one.

Is walking good for a hernia?

Yes, walking strengthens your body, especially your muscles and can encourage fewer symptoms. Walking may also be part of your recovery after hernia surgery. 

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.



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