Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Diet

Acid reflux, that irritating backflow of stomach acid up into your esophagus, is often triggered by what you eat and  drink. Eat the wrong food, and you’re sure to feel the burn. Some foods are known to cause reflux more than others.

Eating the right foods will help lessen symptoms and the need for medications.

Symptoms of GERD

Burning sensation in the chest and upper abdomen
Bitter taste in the mouth
Trouble swallowing
Chronic coughing
A feeling that something is stuck in the throat.

One of the underlying reasons for GERD is a weakened lower esophageal sphincter (LES) present between the  stomach and esophagus. This sphincter normally prevents acid from coming back into the esophagus2.


What foods should be eaten?

Some foods can even help to reduce GERD symptoms.

Studies shows that Mediterranean diets, which are rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber, whole grains, and unsaturated fats, play an excellent role in lessening GERD severity.


Special Considerations
  • The lower esophageal muscle can be weakened by factors other than food. The following recommendations may help reduce symptoms:

    1. Stop using tobacco in all forms. Nicotine weakens the lower esophageal muscle.
    2. Avoid chewing gum and hard candy. They increase the amount of swallowed air which, in turn, leads to belching and reflux.
    3. Do not lie down immediately after eating. Avoid late evening snacks.
    4. Avoid tight clothing and bending over after eating.
    5. Eat small, frequent portions of food and snack if needed.
    6. Lose weight if overweight. Obesity leads to increased reflux.
    7. Elevate the head of the bed six to eight inches to prevent reflux when sleeping. Extra pillows, by themselves, are not very helpful.

Food to Avoid:
  • The following foods aggravate acid reflux and should be avoided:
    ▪ fatty or fried foods
    ▪ peppermint and spearmint
    ▪ whole milk
    ▪ oils
    ▪ chocolate
    ▪ creamed foods or soups
    ▪ most fast foods

    The following foods irritate an inflamed lower esophagus and may need to be limited or avoided:
    ▪ citrus fruits and juices (grapefruit, orange, pineapple, tomato)
    ▪ coffee (regular and decaffeinated)
    ▪ caffeinated soft drinks
    ▪ tea
    ▪ other caffeinated beverages
    Some individuals may not tolerate spicy or acidic foods
Food Groups
Group Recommend Avoid
Milk or milk products skim, 1% or 2% low-fat milk; lowfat or fat-free yogurt whole milk (4%), chocolate milk
Vegetables all other vegetables fried or creamy style vegetables*, tomatoes
Fruits apples, berries, melons, bananas, peaches, pears citrus*: such as oranges, grapefruit, pineapple
Bread & grains all those made with low-fat content any prepared with whole milk or high fat content
Meat, meat substitutes low-fat meat, chicken, fish, turkey cold cuts, sausage, bacon, fatty meat, chicken fat/skin
Fat, oils none or small amounts all animal or vegetable oils
Sweets & desserts all items made with no or low fat (less than or equal to 3 g fat/serving) chocolate, desserts made with oils and fats
Beverages decaffeinated, non-mint herbal tea; juices (except citrus); water alcohol, coffee (regular or decaffeinated), carbonated beverages, tea, mint tea
Soups fat-free or low-fat based chicken, beef, milk, or cream-based soups
*Individually determined


Chronic gastroesophageal reflux may cause complications like esophagitis,  laryngitis, tooth enamel erosions, and heartburn. Apart from medication, the  most effective way to manage GERD is with dietary modification.


1. Kellerman R, Kintanar T. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Prim Care.  2017;44(4):561- 573. doi:10.1016/J.POP.2017.07.001
2. Grossi L, Ciccaglione AF, Travaglini N, Marzio L. Transient lower  esophageal sphincter relaxations and gastroesophageal reflux episodes in  healthy subjects and GERD patients during 24 hours.
Dig Dis Sci.  2001;46(4):815-821. doi:10.1023/A:1010708602777
3. Wu P, Zhao XH, Ai ZS, et al. Dietary intake and risk for reflux esophagitis:  A casecontrol study.
Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2013;2013.  doi:10.1155/2013/691026

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