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Umbilical Hernia Diet

An umbilical or belly button hernia occurs when a part of the intestines or the abdominal lining protrudes through an opening in the abdominal muscles. The protruding intestines may get squeezed or strangulated resulting in the blood supply getting cut off. Surgery may be required in serious cases of umbilical hernia. Doctors often suggest a special diet for umbilical hernia patients as this helps to prevent further complications.

Foods to avoid

Certain foods are not recommended for people with an umbilical hernia and should be avoided.
These include:
  • White Refined Flour – Foods made from white refined flour have a low fiber content. Eating these foods may cause constipation and should therefore be avoided. This is because constipation causes straining of the abdominal muscles during bowel movements and may cause further protrusion of the intestines through the abdominal muscles in the region of the belly button.
  • Low fiber Fruits and vegetables– The low fiber content in these foods can also lead to constipation. Examples of fruits and vegetables with low fiber content include skinless raw fruits, cooked fruits, and canned or cooked vegetables without seeds, hulls or skin.
  • Fatty foods – Foods with a high fat content should be avoided. This is because obesity results in greater pressure on the abdominal muscles and can increase the risk of umbilical hernia. Examples of foods with a high fat content include fatty meat such as pork, whole milk, butter, cream, margarine and fried foods.
  • Sugar – Limit your calorie intake by cutting down on foods such as pastries, cakes, chocolates and soda pop. Limiting your sugar intake will also help you to lose some weight, taking pressure off your abdominal region.

Foods to include

A special diet is required after umbilical hernia surgery. This will help you to minimize your convalescence time. The special dietary requirements include:

  • Fruits – Fresh fruits that have high fiber content and are rich in antioxidants should form a part of every meal. The high fiber content will ensure that you do not get constipated and the antioxidants will help protect your body and boost your immune system. Try to eat different types of fruits so as to get adequate amounts of different vitamins. Citrus fruits, berries, and apples are some examples of fruits with a high fiber and vitamin content.
  • Vegetables – These too have a high fiber content that will guard against the dangers of constipation after an umbilical hernia surgery. They also have high levels of vitamins and minerals and should also be included with every meal.
  • Lean meat – Meat is a source of protein, which is essential to the repair of damaged tissue. Lean meat like poultry and fish is an excellent source of low fat protein. Have one good source of low fat protein with every meal.
  • Low fat dairy products – These are a good source of protein and can be alternated with lean meats to provide your body with sufficient protein.
  • High fiber breakfast foods will aid digestion and so your breakfast should consist of foods made from whole wheat flour, wheat germ, oatmeal, or bran.

Your doctor may suggest changes to your diet plan after an umbilical hernia surgery based on your recovery. You will also require complete bed rest for a few days after your surgery. Recovery can take up to six weeks and you will need to avoid bending down and any type of strenuous activities. Activities that you will need to avoid during this period include climbing stairs, carrying heavy loads, lifting things, driving, and all forms of physical exercise. Consult your doctor before resuming any of these activities or read here for more details for hernial diet

Additional umbilical hernia info

Symptoms of umbilical hernia include:

  • A bulge or swelling near the navel
  • Bulge may disappear when the baby lies on its back
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting


During pregnancy, there is a gap in the baby’s abdominal muscles through which the umbilical cord passes. The gap usually closes just prior to birth. If these muscles do not join properly, it can cause an umbilical hernia. This is the most common cause of umbilical hernias in children. In the case of adults, the possible causes of umbilical hernia include:

  • Obesity
  • A long history of chronic cough
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity, also known as ascites


Most cases of umbilical hernias in children close on their own by the age of 1. Surgery is the recommended treatment though in the case of children it is usually performed only in certain cases. These include:

  • Large and painful hernias
  • Hernias that get bigger after the age of 1
  • Hernias that do not clear up by the age of 4
  • Hernias that block the intestines.



Submitted on January 16, 2014