What Can a Child with Gastritis Eat?
Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach and is the main cause of abdominal pain in children. There are several reasons that can lead to this disorder and, whatever it is, dietary changes are part of the treatment to be followed. If you want to know what a child with gastritis can eat, in this article, we’ll give you the answer.
Take note so that you know what the main foods to incorporate are, their consistency, the distribution during the day, and which foods to discard. Don’t forget to visit your pediatrician or gastroenterologist.
What causes gastritis?
Gastritis occurs when the outermost layer of the stomach becomes inflamed in response to various factors. But which are the most frequent in children? We’ll explain:
- Stress: Children, like adults, feel overwhelmed and anxious for various reasons. Interpersonal relationships, the family environment, homework, among others, can generate emotional tensions that affect their digestive system.
- Bad eating habits: Skipping breakfast, choosing junk food, having chaotic eating schedules, or binging on sweets with additives and colorings are some examples that can lead to gastritis.
- Bacterial infections: Sometimes, food contaminated by bacteria can be consumed and eventually lead to gastritis. This is the case of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that may go unnoticed at first, but eventually develops the symptoms of gastritis.
How to identify gastritis in children?
A child with gastritis may have a feeling of emptiness in the stomach, nausea, vomiting, refusal of food, sour breath, acid reflux, and abdominal pain.
Know what a child with gastritis can eat
The first thing is for the pediatrician to identify the disorder and indicate the pharmacological treatment. In addition, the diet should be recommended by the nutritionist. It’s essential to select foods that protect the stomach mucosa and avoid those that can worsen it. The idea is to cover the nutritional needs with little gastric stimulation and alleviate discomfort.
Meat, fish, and eggs
Protein will always be part of the diet plan for children with gastritis. However, it’s advisable to make a good selection of foods.
- Eggs: They should be boiled, never fried, unseasoned, and shouldn’t be prepared with whole milk or fatty ingredients. In addition, pepper or any other irritating spice should be discarded.
- Meats: It’s important to opt for those that can be easily digested, such as poultry meat without skin. On the other hand, when the pain is acute, meat should be shredded to help the digestion process.
- Fish: Lean fish is a good option. In the case of seafood, roasted or grilled options are recommended, but never battered.
The use of skimmed milk and its derivatives is recommended, as milk fat, like others, can irritate the gastric mucosa more. Lean cheeses such as cottage cheese are allowed, and yogurt, despite its acidity, is also a good option.
A 2019 review points out that fiber sources should be chosen with some prudence. For example, preference should be given to soluble fiber, such as mucilages and beta-glucans, which maintain digestive health. Grains contain much of this fiber, such as oats, barley, quinoa, and amaranth. Other sources are pectins from fruits and carbohydrates from legumes.
Whole grain rice and pasta are options that can be incorporated after overcoming acute pain and as long as the child can tolerate them. Small portions should be served.
Legumes, such as lentils, peas, or beans, also contain soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as protein and other nutritional properties. These give them a privileged place in the child’s diet. However, it’s important to soak them for 8 to 12 hours. Then, replace the water so that gases aren’t produced and they’re cooked until they are very soft.
They should be served in cream soups or as an accompaniment in mashed-type preparations, without condiments or strong spices. This way, you can test your child’s tolerance little by little.
Fruits and vegetables
According to Nutrients magazine, in 2022, some fruits and vegetables are associated with a reduced risk of gastric disease, due to their anti-inflammatory power. The most recommended are apples , pears, carrots, cucumber, and pumpkin.
These are a good source of soluble fiber, but you should choose those that are low in acid. According to the authors, this fiber serves as an intermediate component that decreases gastric juice concentrations and prevents erosion of the stomach mucosa. Fruits and vegetables should be well cooked and served without skin. For example, natural jams or compotes can be prepared or served with unflavored gelatin.
A review indicates that there are several studies that highlight the beneficial effect of probiotics in gastritis caused by Helicobacter pylori. Some of these foods that carry bacteria that improve digestive health include firm or whipped yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha, among others.
Read also: Foods for Relieving Stomach Pain in Children
What a child with gastritis can’t eat
Some foods should be avoided during gastritis. In cases where it becomes chronic, they should be omitted for a long time from the diet and tolerance should be tested as the child improves.
- Foods that are high in fat: Including sausages, mayonnaise, sauces, butter, margarine, french fries, fast foods, and ice cream, among others. Nuts should also be used with caution. This is because when a lot of fat is consumed, there’s a greater production of bile salts, which aggravates the inflammatory process.
- Carbonated and other sugary drinks: According to a study, the sugar in carbonated drinks reduces the entrance between the esophagus and the stomach, thus increasing pressure in the area. This causes more irritation of the gastric mucosa.
- Highly spiced foods: Spices cause irritation of the mucosa and increase gastric secretion and the inflammatory process. These include pepper, paprika, vinegar, hot pepper, and mustard.
- Stimulating products: Coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks should be eliminated.
- Highly acidic foods: Some citrus fruits and other fruits aren’t recommended. Fermented foods are allowed, but only when indicated by the child’s pediatrician.
- Tomato and its derivatives, such as juices, sauce, and pasta.
- Garlic and onion.
- Red meat, goose, or duck.
It’s key to consult with specialists
The diet for gastritis turns out to be very flexible, as children can react differently to foods. What may be good for some may not be good for others. Therefore, it’s not surprising that some foods to avoid are tolerated in small portions, while those that are recommended may not appeal to everyone. In this regard, any food that causes the child to feel bad should be immediately removed from their diet.
Those foods that the child does eat should be of soft consistency, easy to digest, and at an appropriate temperature. In addition, children with gastritis should eat several times throughout the day.
It’s important to remember that the child should chew each food well and slowly. Finally, a pediatrician or gastroenterologist, as well as a nutritionist, should be aware of the child’s evolution.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- He, C.; Cheng, D.; Peng, C.; Li, Y.; Zhu, Y.; Lu, N. (2018) High-fat diet induces dysbiosis of gastric microbiota prior to gut microbiota in association with metabolic disorders in mice. Front. Microbiol, 9, 639.
- Johnson, T.; Gerson, L.; Hershcovici, T.; Stave, C.; Fass, R. (2010) Systematic review: The effects of carbonated beverages on gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Aliment. Pharmacol. 31, 607–614.
- Khoder G, Al-Menhali AA, Al-Yassir F, Karam SM. Potential role of probiotics in the management of gastric ulcer. Exp Ther Med. 2016 Jul;12(1):3-17. doi: 10.3892/etm.2016.3293. Epub 2016 Apr 26. PMID: 27347010; PMCID: PMC4906699.
- Li, Y.; Su, Z.; Li, P.; Li, Y.; Johnson, N.; Zhang, Q.; Du, S.; Zhao, H.; Li, K.; Zhang, C. (2020) Association of Symptoms with Eating Habits and Food Preferences in Chronic Gastritis Patients: A Cross-Sectional Study. Evid.-Based Complement. Altern. Med. 2020, 5197201.
- Pérez Rodríguez L; Espinosa Sánchez N ; López Contreras N ; Pesantes Merchán D. (2019) Nutrición: Tratamiento para la gastritis. Vol. 3, núm. 2, pp. 120-137. : http://www.recimundo.com/index.php/es/article/view/439
- Pérez Rodríguez L; Espinosa Sánchez N; López Contreras N; Pesantes Merchán D. (2019). Nutrición: Tratamiento para la gastritis. Revista Científica Mundo de la Investigación y el Conocimiento. 3 (2). pp. 120-137 .
- Sreeja, Sundara Raj, Trong-Dat Le, Bang Wool Eom, Seung Hyun Oh, Nitin Shivappa, James R. Hebert, and Mi Kyung Kim. 2022. “Association between the Dietary Inflammatory Index and Gastric Disease Risk: Findings from a Korean Population-Based Cohort Study” Nutrients 14, no. 13: 2662. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14132662