GERD Diet Demystified: Low-fat alternatives for symptom relief

GERD Diet Demystified: Low-fat alternatives for symptom relief

Published on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 by Allison Koch

There is a reason we enjoy fat when we eat food, it makes foods taste better

I’m a complete realist here, you have to eat foods that taste good and you have to have fat in your diet for a number of reasons. For example, fats contain essential fatty acids which your body cannot make on its own and fats are necessary for absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. However, many people are consuming too much fat in their diet, escalating health issues including GERD. Let’s examine what can happen when you have GERD and eat too much fat:

Two major problems can occur when you have too much fat in your meals and snacks. Too much fat can decrease the pressure of your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which remember this is what keeps your stomach acids and contents from coming back up into your esophagus, and high-fat meals also delay gastric emptying time, making the time it takes for your food to get through your stomach slower than normal, allowing exposure to irritants and potential for reflux to occur.

By switching out some of your higher-fat choices for some lower-fat alternatives, you are putting yourself in a position to reap some additional benefits beyond GERD relief. Out of all of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat), fat has the highest calories per gram (technically they are called kilocalories for anyone who wants to know). Fat has 9 calories per gram as opposed to protein and carbohydrates who have 4 calories per gram. By choosing lower-fat alternatives you are also putting yourself in a position to reduce your risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease, including stroke and heart attack risk.

Try these lower-fat alternatives when choosing your next meal or snack:

Keep the flavor in your foods by switching up your cooking method from frying to broiling, baking, steaming, roasting, grilling, or microwaving.

Reduce the amount of fat in your food choices through alternatives:

  • Dairy- choose skim or low-fat buttermilk, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat yogurts & cheeses made with part-skim milk.
  • Protein- choose lean meats, trimmed cuts of meat, skinless poultry, fresh fish (or packed in water), tofu, dried beans/peas, and egg whites (see appropriate cooking methods above).
  • Vegetables- Fresh is best, followed by frozen, then canned without fat. Use caution with tomatoes if they are a trigger or any vegetable that comes in a cream sauce (added fat).
  • Fruits-  Fresh is best, followed by frozen, then canned fruits for use. Use caution with orange, lemon, grapefruit, and additional citrus fruits that are known GERD irritants.
  • Grains- choose whole grain bread, cereals (hot and cold), crackers, English muffins, rolls, buns, and corn tortillas.
  • Sweets- choose reduced-fat ice cream, low-fat pudding or custard, sherbet, angel food cake, low-fat cookies, gelatin, or jam preserves. Use caution with cakes, pies, ice cream made with whole milk, and desserts containing cream (added fat) or chocolate, which may be a trigger to some GERD sufferers.
  • Fats- choose nonfat or low-fat dressings, mayonnaise, sour cream, liquid or powdered cream substitutes, brown gravy, and extra virgin olive oil. 


  1. Shan, Z., Rehm, C. D., Rogers, G., Ruan, M., Wang, D. D., Hu, F. B., Mozaffarian, D., Zhang, F. F., & Bhupathiraju, S. N. (2019). Trends in Dietary Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat Intake and Diet Quality Among US Adults, 1999-2016. JAMA322(12), 1178–1187.
  2. What is the difference between calories and kilocalories?: Time of Care. Time of Care | Online Medicine Notebook. (2019, May 24). Retrieved February 28, 2023, from
  3. Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease. (2020, May 28). Retrieved February 28, 2023, from


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