GERD Diet Demystified: List of Foods to Add and Avoid

While some individuals may have to see a physician or take medications to help with GERD, for many, lifestyle changes and diet can help control and even improve the symptoms (Journal of Thoracic Disease, 2019). Avoiding the behaviors, foods and beverages that trigger these symptoms is key! But just as important are including foods and habits that may help soothe your symptoms.

The No-No’s

When it comes to GERD, there are a variety of habits and foods that should be avoided, or at least limited, to help ease and manage symptoms. Believe it or not, it’s not just about what you eat--it’s about when, where and how you eat too! The following behaviors are ones to consider changing:

  • Overeating
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Laying down for bed or a nap right after you eat
  • Consuming excessive caffeine
  • Wearing tight-waisted clothes
  • Smoking
    It is well-known that a variety of foods can also cause or trigger GERD symptoms (Current Medical Chemistry, 2019). While this can vary from individual to individual, the following foods should be limited or avoided to help manage the condition in most people:
    • Fried foods
    • High-fat foods (fatty cuts of meat, butter, desserts, chips, full-fat dairy, ice cream, creamy sauces, dressings and dips)
    • Spicy foods (spicy peppers, garlic, onions)
    • Citrus (oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, pineapple, tomatoes and tomato-based sauces and dishes)
    • Mint (peppermint, spearmint)
    • Chocolate 
    • Coffee
    • Carbonated beverages
    • Beverages containing alcohol
    (BMC Gastroenterology, 2014)

        The Good News

        While eating certain foods and changing specific behaviors won’t necessarily “cure” GERD, they sure can help it, ultimately decreasing the severity of symptoms. Similar to the no-no’s, there are a variety of behavior changes that can be made to help lessen the negative side effects of GERD. Here are a few to consider adopting:

        • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
        • Eat at least 2-3 hours before going to bed
        • Raise the pillow of your bed 4-6 inches to elevate your head
        • Try sleeping in a chair if you take daytime naps
        • Don’t wear tight clothes or tight belts
        • Lose weight
        • Quit smoking

          And while there are lots of foods that can trigger GERD, there are also some that can help the condition! Consider adding the following foods to your eating plan if you experience GERD:

          Oats Vegetables
          • Vegetables are low in calories, high in fiber and help reduce stomach acid
          • Including vegetables at snack time can help you get the recommended amount - checkout Vegan Jerky for a portable, healthy snack
            Lean Meats & Seafood
            • Lean meats and seafood are low in fat and can help reduce symptoms of reflux
            • You can also decrease the fat of cooking meats by altering your cooking method like baking, broiling, grilling or poaching
            • For plant-based individuals with GERD, consuming lean protein from plant sources like Mrs. Goldfarb’s Unreal Deli  meat
                Healthy Fats
                • Healthy fats are considered monounsaturated and polyunsaturated and they are found in foods like nuts, nut butters, seeds, avocado, fatty fish like salmon, trout and tuna as well as in oils such as olive, grapeseed, Canola, avocado, peanut, etc.
                • Nuts and nut butters are a fantastic way to add both healthy fat and plant-based protein to your meals and snacks - Consider adding a nut butter like Honey Almond Butter to your oatmeal, toast or apple at snack time
                • If you like crunch, P-nuff packs protein, healthy fat and fiber all in a convenient on-the-go package of crunchy puffs
                  Non-Citrus Fruits
                  • While citrus fruits might trigger symptoms in some people, you still need to eat your fruit - consider trying other options like apples, bananas, pears and melons
                  • Fruit can be eaten as a healthy snack or chopped into oatmeal, cold cereal, salads and more

                    Not To Worry!

                    It’s not all doom and gloom if you have GERD! Some simple swaps and behavior tweaks can help reduce your symptoms, enjoy your food and live a healthy lifestyle! Curious how to piece this all into a meal plan? Good news - a GERD-friendly meal plan is coming soon!

                    * Foodguides.com articles have been reviewed by subject experts for accuracy, if you are experiencing heartburn and think you may be dealing with GERD, please see a GI doctor. 

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