Plant-Based Swaps for Your Favorite GERD Trigger FoodsPublished on Monday, December 11, 2023 by
Revamp Your Diet: Plant-Based Swaps to Tame GERD Trigger Foods
Getting a GERD diagnosis can come with mixed feelings. On the one hand, having a direction to move in and strategies to manage those pesky symptoms is so helpful. On the other hand, it can be discouraging to think that some of your favorite foods may actually be triggers.
But don’t fret! I’ve compiled some swaps to help you indulge in some of your favorite foods without the consequences. And for a twist, I’m making these swaps plant-based, as there is reason to believe a plant-based diet can be a helpful way to manage GERD.
As a reminder, some of the common GERD triggers include high-fat foods, including full-fat dairy, fatty cuts of meat, and fried foods.
Dairy Swaps: Navigating GERD with Smart Cheese and Milk Alternatives
#1- Cheese Flavor → Nutritional Yeast: Cheese naturally has fat in it. Depending on the person, even in small amounts, this can be a cause of concern when it comes to GERD. If you want a cheesy flavor but with 0 grams of fat per serving, try nutritional yeast. If you’ve never tried the flaky seasoning before, it has a similar flavor to parmesan. I like sprinkling it on my pasta, tacos, and soups. As an added bonus, it is an excellent source of vitamin B12. So, if you follow a strictly plant-based diet, it can be a great way to maintain your B12 levels!
#2- Milk Products→ Dairy Alternatives: Soy, almond, and oat milk are just three of the common dairy alternatives on the market. While they may differ in total nutritional composition, each of these three choices is low in dietary fat. Swap out your milk with one of these choices in smoothies, scrambled eggs, and most other places you cook with milk.
#3- Heavy Cream→ Lite Coconut Milk: It is fairly well known that coconut milk can make a great substitution for heavy cream. However, coconut milk is still high in saturated fats, so for GERD sufferers, this doesn’t often provide much relief. Did you know that you can actually buy “lite” coconut milk? Try this option in your curries and pasta dishes. It may not always be quite as rich, but it sure is tasty.
#4- Ranch Dressing→ Hummus: Need to increase your vegetable intake without increasing your heartburn? Swap ranch with hummus to keep the creamy texture without the added fats. Dip away!
#5- Butter in Baking→ Applesauce: Fall and winter are also prime baking seasons. A quick tip to cut back on some of the fat in baked goods is to swap butter with applesauce. It typically works well in a 1:1 ratio. If your recipe calls for a cup of butter, simply use a cup of applesauce. Talk about a great way to add flavor to a recipe and use up some of those seasonal apples you may have on hand!
Meat Dishes: Creative Plant-Powered Protein Solutions
#1- Hamburger→ Bean Burger: I like to keep most of my foods whole foods, so while there is an abundance of alternatives to burger patties on the market, to me, nothing beats a good old-fashioned bean burger. You can buy these premade or make your own out of black beans, pinto beans, or cannellini beans. Not only is this a meal high in protein and fiber, but there is none of that animal-source saturated fat causing chest tightness or bloating.
#2- Ground Beef→ Lentils: You might think, “Seriously, lentils instead of ground beef?” Just trust me. Lentil tacos or lentil sloppy joes are absolutely tasty, especially since you have the additional covering of other toppings or a flavorful sauce on them. The texture of lentils also provides a visual appearance similar to ground beef. If you’re not ready to fully give up the beef, you could go half and half on your dish and give yourself a bit more variety in your meal.
#3- Pulled Pork→ Jackfruit: Have you never heard of jackfruit? Let me introduce you. This ancient fruit is a part of the fig family that is full of micronutrients. It looks a bit like a melon on the outside, but on the inside, it has a stringy consistency, similar to that of pulled pork. A “pulled pork” jackfruit sandwich was actually one of the first intentionally plant-based dishes I tried, and it left a great first impression.
When it comes to food prep, the sky's the limit on creativity. But if your creative juices aren’t flowing and moving to a more plant-based diet still feels overwhelming, feel free to check out this article to help you transition smoothly. Every new dish you try may not be a home run, but soon enough, you’ll have a full list of favorite GERD-friendly options. Happy eating!
Savannah DuffyMS, RDN, LD