The Must-Know Tips to Kickstart Your GERD Diet Plan
If you’ve experienced the painful, burning sensations of gastroesophageal reflux disease, you know how uncomfortable it can be—and you’re probably very motivated to find a solution.
The good news is that a solution is indeed out there waiting for people with GERD. The trick is to find it. The thing is, different foods are triggers for different people. So it may take a bit of effort for you to find what works for you.
First, a quick refresher: Acid reflux happens when your stomach contents come back up into your esophagus, causing heartburn. When the condition is long-lasting and serious, it’s called gastroesophageal reflux disease—and it’s time to do something about it. Here’s how you can kick-start your GERD diet plan and reduce symptoms.
Stick to a Trigger-Free Diet
If you want to figure out a GERD diet plan that will work for you quickly, then the easiest way to do that is to start out with a diet that includes only GERD-safe foods. They include:
- Cereal, oatmeal, quinoa, bread and pasta
- Brown rice
- Saltines and graham crackers
- Bananas, apples, pineapple and watermelon
- Salad greens, steamed broccoli, radishes and other fresh vegetables (not tomatoes)
- Skim milk and low-fat yogurt
- Lean meats
- Skinless chicken breast and turkey (not fried)
- Egg whites
- Baked or boiled potatoes
- Fat-free snacks, like baked potato chips, pretzels and fat-free cookies
That’s not all that exciting, right? The point is to stick with that bland diet for a few days, and then you’re on to the next step …
Introduce Possible Trigger Foods One by One
Your next task is to bring back foods that you like, one at a time, and keep track of any symptoms of GERD you feel after consuming them. Here are the foods that are likely to cause symptoms:
• Tomatoes and citrus fruits/juices. The high acid content in these foods makes them some of the worst for GERD sufferers.
• Foods high in fat. Cheese, French fries, prime rib, dairy products and ice cream can cause heartburn in many GERD sufferers. That’s because fat slows down the emptying of the stomach, which puts pressure on the esophageal sphincter. This also includes fried foods, fatty foods and processed foods.
• Garlic, onion and spicy foods. Not everyone who suffers from GERD has a problem with these. Add them back in to your diet one by one to see which ones are OK for you.
• Mint and chocolate. Like coffee, these foods can chemically cause the lower esophageal sphincter to loosen, triggering acid reflux.
• Coffee. Coffee works negatively in two ways. It’s been shown to decrease the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter, which invites stomach contents to come in. Caffeine also stimulates acid secretion. You might try a lower-acidity coffee first, then proceed to other types of coffee if you don’t have any symptoms.
• Alcohol. While alcohol is a known contributing factor to GERD, it affects everyone differently.
• Carbonated drinks. The carbonation in soda can cause the stomach to distend and bloat, placing extra strain on the lower esophageal sphincter.
Remember, too, that just because coffee is OK and Danishes are OK, that doesn’t mean they’ll be OK if you eat them at the same time. The key is to pay close attention (you might even keep a food journal) and see what foods and food combinations cause trouble for you, and incorporate that into your GERD diet plan.
Most people can resolve their GERD long term by making diet and lifestyle changes (quitting smoking and weight loss are also helpful, in addition to watching what you eat.) Remember, too, that this isn’t a battle you need to forge on your own.