Gastritis Post 8: Main Message

So, what should you do if you have gastritis? Here is what worked for me:

  • Eat foods that do not cause a sugar peak and dip.

I’ve found that the insulin response is critical in the amount of pain I experience with gastritis: if I’m having a sugar dip, then I also get a lot of pain in my stomach and my gastritis gets irritated. For this reason, I make sure I eat plenty of protein, enough fat, lots of vegetables, and not many carbohydrates. I only have sweet stuff as a treat once in a while because that helps my blood sugar levels stay stable. For more details about what foods to eat, read this blog post.

  • Avoid foods that irritate the stomach.

This plays a big part in letting the stomach heal. Each person will experience different foods as irritating, but for me some of the big ones are: alcohol, coffee, spicy foods, fried foods, and some raw vegetables such as lettuce. For a full list of foods to avoid, read this blog post.

  • Avoid taking acid-suppressing medications in the long term.

While medications that suppress stomach acid production can help someone with acute gastritis, they are not a solution if the condition is chronic because a) they don’t treat the condition and help the stomach heal and b) they have side effects that can be dangerous in the long term. To read about my experience with acid-suppressing medications, read this blog post.

  • Help the stomach lining heal by taking some supplements

Turmeric has fantastic anti-inflammatory properties and it really helps reduce the inflammation of the gut lining in the case of gastritis. Also, L-glutamine helps tissues rebuild themselves, so it helps the stomach lining heal. For more specific tips about how to take these supplements, read this blog post.

  • Try to reduce and manage stress

Stress contributes in major ways to numerous digestive problems including gastritis. Therefore, as difficult as it might be, it is worth it to try to reduce and manage stress in your life. For more ideas about how to do this, read this blog post.

And that’s it! Good luck and let me know how these tips work for you… I’d be curious to hear! Are there any other approaches that have worked for you?

Here are links to some of the main resources that have informed my search for answers throughout my journey with gastritis:

Robb Wolf: Lots of information about the way of eating I describe (a paleo-inspired diet) and about lifestyle in general.

Dr Brooke Kalanick: Building on that, lots of information about our hormonal system and the important role hormones play in our health.

Girls Gone Strong: Lots of information about healthy movement, our relationship to food, and self-confidence and appreciation.

Source of featured image: Real Estate Dynamics

14 thoughts on “Gastritis Post 8: Main Message

  1. Rose

    Hi Marisha,

    What a journey you had with your gastritis!
    Well done on the fight and the perseverance.
    I myself have gastritis for around 5 years now, and I wanted to ask you while you were fighting gastrtitis have you ever experienced pins and needles in palms and feet?
    My GP and gastroenterologist thinks these symptoms are not connected with gastritis, but I know my body and the signal it sends.
    I am slightly anemic (my iron is okay) but the doctor said I need to be severely anemic to experience tinglings or pins and needles in extremities.
    Tnx a lot
    Take care
    Rose

    Like

    1. Hi Rose,
      I’m sorry to hear you’re dealing with gastritis and hope that you will feel better soon!
      I have not experienced pins and needles in my palms and feet, sorry…
      A functional medicine doctor I follow says that she pays attention as soon as somebody is slightly anemic and fixes it right away; she says it’s quite severe by the time people are actually diagnosed with anemia. You can find her website here: https://betterbydrbrooke.com/
      I wish you all the best with your health journey! 🙂

      All the best,
      Marisha

      Like

  2. Christine

    Dear marisha

    I cannot tell you what reading this blog has done for me finally another real person going through the same nightmare … refreshing and encouraging to say the least. Been suffering for a long time with acid reflux. Didn’t really take it serious avoided spice and alcohol and drank gavisgon by the bottle. Looking back I would get the odd day of terrible what I know now gastritis upper abdo pain nausea and general u well feeling did t really know what it was.

    Was at work 3 weeks ago I work in the hospital and the pain was so intense my tummy extremely bloated I could barely walk. Took myself down to a&e. They said gastritis they treated me for h pylori even though they didn’t test. Since then I am trying to be in control. Monitoring everything no caffeine soft drinks fried ect ect. I’m now on lansoperosole which is helping somewhat. I am realising this is a life changing thing and my tummy already feels better although still pain if that makes sense. Any tips or advice … many many thanks Christine

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    1. Hi Christine,

      It really is very difficult to manage such an acute condition. I’d say in addition to the medication, try to help your stomach by making good food choices. Emphasize whole foods, sufficient protein, healthful fats, and vegetables your stomach can tolerate (zucchini, carrots, broccoli, cucumber, pumpkin). The paleo diet has been a life changer for me. Since I didn’t have h. pylori, medication didn’t help my problem much. But good food choices have made all the difference. In general, keep trying to find ways to resolve the problem! It can get better, and you don’t need to suffer through all the pain!

      Like

  3. Ivana

    Hello Marisha

    Thank you so much for your post, you make me feel calm down now, for the past one month i feel so crazy with my gastritis, so happy to find your post, i find out that i’m not the one that have negative pylori

    I go to many doctor and no significant result, every morning i get up and feel my stomach is cramping, some times a little bit stabbing sensation, all i want to know Marisha, can this gastritis healing and we got normal life? I was spicy food lover and can’t eat that anymore make me sad, because almost everything in my city is spicy food :(, and also, maybe you can share your recipe :), because its so hard to find the recipe that suit our condition,

    Anyway thank you so much for sharing your experience, it’s help me a lot

    Like

    1. Hi Ivana,

      I’m so glad you reached out and that my post has helped you. What you describe sounds very recognizable, unfortunately 😦 I can say that yes, gastritis can heal and we can lead a normal life again. I’m at a stage where it’s 80-90% healed and it only acts up if I eat something very spicy or very acidic. I eat paleo-style, and my favorite website is this: https://paleoleap.com/ Some of my favorite recipes right now are:
      https://paleoleap.com/lemon-garlic-baked-salmon/ (just make sure the garlic actually gets cooked because otherwise it will probably irritate your stomach; or just omit the garlic)
      https://paleoleap.com/mediterranean-style-chicken-coconut-dill-sauce/
      https://paleoleap.com/orange-rosemary-seared-salmon/
      https://paleoleap.com/balsamic-chicken-drumsticks/

      And for breakfast I usually make a frittata such as this one: https://paleoleap.com/zucchini-and-sweet-potato-frittata/

      I hope this helps! And good luck with your healing journey! It’s definitely possible to get better, but you just need to find out what works for you. These are examples of the things that work for me 🙂

      Like

  4. Heather Hanna

    Hi Marisha,

    I’m glad to stumbled upon your blog. I’ve been struggling with gastritis for about 3 months now. I believe it was brought on by stress (working, homeschooling, not sleeping well, etc.), since my mother has had 3 episodes of this during the course of her life, all during stressful times. I’ve had an endoscopy and tested negative for H Pylori and fortunately, the doctor didn’t find anything serious, except for redness. I used to love salads for lunch, but sadly, the raw veggies caused me so much burning, so I’ve had to give them up. The same goes for apples–I used to eat one every day in the afternoon, but I’ve set them aside for now. Everything I had found online stated that apples and salads were good for gastritis–I found this incredibly frustrating, so it makes me feel better to read that I’m not the only one for whom these foods don’t work. I’ve been taking Nexium for almost 3 months. I have 2 more weeks of being on it and then I’m supposed to take it every other day for ~ 2 weeks. I can’t wait to go off of it (I’m aware of the side effects long term), but I’m also a little nervous about how I’ll feel. I haven’t tried glutamine yet, so I’m going to give that a try. I want to be sure I have some natural remedies at the ready. It’s been very helpful to read your story and to hear what you’ve done and what’s worked for you. Thanks for putting this out there. It gives me hope that I too can get better. 🙂 Hope you’re doing well these days!

    Thanks,
    Heather

    Like

    1. Hi Heather,
      I’m so glad to hear that! Thank you for writing in!
      At the same time, I’m sorry you’re struggling with gastritis. It can definitely be triggered by stress, as you know all too well. With regards to the vegetables, I know, it’s so frustrating to be told that it’s healthy to eat salad and apples when they give you pain! I definitely relate to that. I eat lots of steamed or roasted veggies, and that tends to work well. Even things like cauliflower and brussel sprouts, which can generally aggravate gut issues, are fine for me if I steam them well. And things like sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, zucchini, squash, pumpkin, cucumber, and broccoli always work well for me. About the apples, I bake them in the oven. I put apples and pears in the oven for ~40 minutes on 160 degrees Celsius, and they get nice and soft and super tasty! If you try this and still get irritation, try removing the skin as the ingredient that irritates gastritis is right beneath the skin. This is also a trick to try with raw apples: if you peel them, you may notice that you can eat them just fine (or maybe try this in a couple of months when you’re feeling a bit better).
      Good luck with weaning off Nexium! Don’t worry, if you’ve been taking it for 3-4 months, it’s probably not long enough to cause any long-lasting side effects. Let me know how it goes and if you try L-glutamine. By the way, keep in mind that you may need to take some probiotics after stopping Nexium (anti-acid medications can cause gut dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in the gut microbiota). The best probiotic approach I know about is described here (https://drruscio.com/probiotics-starter-guide/), but you will certainly benefit by replenishing with some probiotics in general.
      Good luck and keep me posted!!

      Like

      1. Heather Hanna

        Hi Marisha,

        Thanks for your tip on baking the apples and pears (another fruit which now bothers me). It’s great to know that works for you and sounds like a delicious way to enjoy them! When I’m feeling a little more brave, perhaps I’ll try the apple without the skin too–I hadn’t considered that the skin could be what’s irritating my stomach. I’ll keep you posted on how the L-glutamine works. I also appreciate the link to the article re probiotics–super helpful. I was taking one from Klaire Labs for a while, but stopped taking it. I had been taking it for a few years and wondered if I was still gaining any benefits. I’ll definitely be interested in resuming some kind of probiotics after I stop the Nexium. Thanks again!

        Hope you have a great weekend!
        Heather

        Like

      2. Hi Heather,
        Great, I’m glad that’s helpful!
        About probiotics, the recommendation used to be to rotate through different brands of probiotics (so don’t take the same ones for years and years, no matter how good they are). This recommendation is still a good one and better than taking the same one, I’d say. So maybe choose a couple of brands you like. Or follow the description in the link above, that would be best, it seems.
        Good luck and all the best!
        Marisha

        Like

  5. Rebekah

    Hi Marisha!

    Thank you so much for these posts. To join the others who have also commented on your blogs, it really is nice to hear that someone else has gone through the same experience of gastritis. I’ve been going through this for a couple years now, first thinking it was just GERD that wouldn’t go away, being on proton pump inhibitors for about half a year (which I’ve been off for a year now), then finding out I had gallstones back in 2022. I thought my problem would be solved after getting my gallbladder taken out, but it seems my guts have gone through a real beating and just have never been the same, going through these terrible burning pains after every meal. On top of being a medical student (which makes cooking difficult to do and stress levels hard to manage), it really has been a frustrating 2 years.

    I stumbled across your blogs a couple weeks ago and just started taking your advice and it seems to help a bit! Though even after eating something like a baked potato with steamed veggies, I still seem to have issues. I was curious, when did you start noticing improvement in your gastritis symptoms? Was it immediate once you changed your diet, or did it take a bit of time where you found your symptoms would still act up somewhat even with a relatively safe meal?

    Also, any advice on desserts? I have a sweet tooth and it’s been so difficult not to want to reach for some ice cream to have after meals. I’ve just been having cottage cheese with some whipped cream, which may not be the best thing but I’ve been desperate for something sweet. :p Any advice?

    Thank you again for these blogs. They really are helpful and I’m going to try out the links to the paleo diet website to see if it helps as well. Thank you!

    Like

    1. Hi Rebekah,
      Thanks so much for sharing your story! I really empathize with your struggles. What a frustrating and difficult period of time for you!
      To answer your questions, yes, in the beginning I definitely felt my gastritis acting up after even a ‘safe’ meal. That period took a few months (I’m thinking 3-4 months, but I can’t be sure). I’m sorry it’s not faster, but that’s just how it was for me. You mentioned eating a baked potato with steamed veggies (btw what are the veggies? I found some steamed greens such as spinach or kale irritating, while others such as broccoli or bokchoy were fine), and one thing I found to be key was to include some protein at every meal. If I had only (or mainly) carbs at a meal, my gastritis didn’t like that for some reason. I started including animal protein, and that worked great for me. Perhaps try including some protein with your veggies and potato?
      Oh, desserts! I love them too! I have so much to say on the topic… First, I’d like to ask you, why is it difficult not to reach for a dessert? Where does that need stem from? Do you eat mostly carb-rich foods throughout the day and not enough protein to balance your blood sugar, so you end up with sugar cravings? A sign of eating too much carbs at a meal is if you crave sugar at the end of your meal. A really good way to figure out your perfect balance of carbs can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Hangry-Hormones-Including-Customizable-Mediterranean/dp/1250189845
      Or are your sugar cravings a response to stress and overly stressful days? This was certainly the case for me. You mention you are in med school; I recently finished my PhD in neuroscience, so I can definitely relate to stress-filled days. I often had sugar cravings in the evening, and I tried different things to satisfy them. Sometimes a cup of hot cacao with stevia would hit the spot (hot water, raw cacao, stevia, almond/coconut milk). I didn’t do dairy (such as cottage cheese with whipped cream) because dairy irritates my digestion a lot (even though I love it) and it also irritated my gastritis, weirdly enough. I also discovered that I love prunes, so I buy dried prunes without added sugar and have two of those after dinner. I find them super tasty!
      I also make some paleo desserts such as:
      Banana bread (only sweetened with bananas): https://www.paleorunningmomma.com/paleo-banana-bread-no-sugar/
      Apple crisp: https://beamingbaker.com/paleo-apple-pecan-coconut-crisp-vegan-gluten-free-dairy-free-refined-sugar-free/
      Any variation of paleo cookies (I love cookies!). You can also often buy them in health-oriented supermarkets. They don’t have to necessarily be paleo, but it is probably important for your blood sugar that they are relatively lower in sugar.
      I eat one cookie after dinner or after my snack in the afternoon, and that’s my sweet thing for the day (and also I have my two prunes). I stop after one cookie because otherwise I’ll suffer some unpleasant side effects from too much sugar, but usually one cookie is okay after a meal with enough protein, it doesn’t spike my blood sugar and doesn’t irritate my gastritis (please note that paleo desserts are generally lower in sugar than conventional desserts, so that probably contributes).
      In case you’re wondering, currently my afternoon snack is two eggs, one sheet of nori (the seaweed that sushi gets wrapped in; I just love how it combines with eggs!), and something sweet such as a low-sugar cookie or two pieces of chocolate. (I enjoy dark chocolate (~70%), but note that that may irritate your gastritis at this stage, so be cautious and observe your reaction if you try it.)
      I hope I’ve given you some ideas! Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

      Like

      1. Rebekah

        Hi Marisha! Thank you so much for the reply!

        So the baked potato I’ll have with some frozen veggies– carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. Sometimes I’ll add some spinach or kale, but I’ve tried not to do that as much since you mentioned it caused you some irritation, so I think I’ll just add it to dishes once in a while. Recently I’ve tried zucchini and mushrooms which have been helpful alleviating some pain.

        Since reading your reply, I’ve tried adding protein to every dish. It’s just 2 eggs or some frozen chicken strips that I airfry, but I feel full for a little longer than just every 2 hours because of the addition. Still find that my stomach will get irritated even with something like veggies and protein, but I’m hoping that will pass if I am consistent. I remember you mentioned having meatballs as one of your dishes. Was that beef or turkey? I’m curious to try expanding my protein choices.

        To answer your question regarding desserts, I would say a lot of that does have to do with stress. It’s somewhat of a comfort. The desire for dessert is even stronger now since my meals have been pretty bland. I’m not a very good cook so I’m not sure what spices are good for my meals. Right now I’ve been experimenting with turmeric, ginger, oregano, and parsley (besides just salt and pepper) but I still find my meals to be rather tasteless. It makes my craving for something sweet even stronger because at least then I have some flavor. Carbs I have been staying away from. I might have half a dinner roll or some pretzels if I’m still not satisfied, but never more than a full serving (if even that), so I don’t think it’s the carbs. Tea has been kind of helpful to end my dinner with, but still fairly bland. I haven’t tried your suggestions yet for desserts, but I’m willing! I’ll have to look and see if there are any health-oriented supermarkets nearby.

        By the way, for your snacks, are those boiled eggs that you eat? I don’t know why but I found those to be somewhat irritating, but maybe because they’re cold after putting them in the fridge.

        Thank you again for the help!

        Like

      2. Hi Rebekah,
        I’m glad to hear that adding protein has made your meals more satiating! That was a huge discovery for me in the past. By the way, eggs don’t contain as much protein as we’d like to think. They are mostly fat (because of the egg yolks), and only the egg whites contain some protein, but it’s really not a lot. For instance, one egg contains around 6 grams of protein, when you should be aiming for 25-30 grams of protein per meal. As you can see, it’s difficult to get enough protein from eggs alone unless you’re eating 4-5 eggs per meal, which is a lot of eggs! 😀
        Meatballs definitely work well as a source of protein. It really doesn’t matter whether they’re from beef or turkey – both are fine with my stomach, and both are satiating. In fact, I haven’t found any meat or fish to be irritating to my stomach, so I eat them all freely. Unless they’re deep-fried, of course, because the deep-frying irritates my gut, and also if they are seasoned with anything spicy (cayenne pepper or chili), that irritates my stomach as well.
        I understand the desire for dessert as comfort very well. It sounds like you’re cooking veggies and meat or eggs with salt and pepper (by the way, pepper definitely irritates my stomach, so maybe try leaving out the pepper and see how you feel?), and all the spices you listed sound fine to me. In fact, the only spices I avoid are pepper (all forms of spicy pepper), chili, and any other hot spice – I eat the rest. But it sounds like you could improve the taste of your food by adding some fat to your meals – olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, ghee/butter, avocado, and olives are some options. When I cook my vegetables (say, broccoli and sweet potato), I sprinkle some sea salt or Himalayan pink salt over them and drizzle some olive oil, and they’re super tasty! I also usually cook my meat/fish in ghee. This makes my food much tastier and also eliminates my post-meal cravings for sweets (if it’s a truly physiological craving). By the way, I find that I don’t need a lot of fat to make my meal satiating – one tablespoon of olive oil or ghee in my meal is enough to curb my cravings, if they are physiological cravings.
        And if you do have a craving for sweets as a comfort craving, give yourself some grace! Food has the ability to be comforting, and that’s a beautiful thing. The point is to find something that works for you, that leaves you feeling good (your stomach, your energy, and your desire for comfort), and that aligns with your goals 😉
        As for my snack, yes, those are soft-boiled eggs (I boil them for 5-6 minutes). I find soft-boiled eggs easier on my stomach than hard-boiled eggs, although nowadays I do well with both. Some people are sensitive to eggs, and you may be one of them, in which case, alas, you’d do better to avoid eggs 😦 But could it be that you were putting pepper on your eggs? Try your eggs with salt only (or a herbal salt, which has herbs such as oregano, basil, parsley, etc. with sea salt) and see if that makes a difference to your stomach.
        I wish you luck and let me know how it goes!!!

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