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GERD Diet

This diet is used to help reduce discomfort in the esophagus caused by Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Symptoms such as heartburn, and chest discomfort and a bitter taste in the mouth often occur, due to acid washing up from the stomach. Coughing, hoarseness, or shortness of breath can occur if the fluid washes into the breathing passages. You can find more information about GERD in the Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease page.

The esophagus is a tube that connects the throat and the stomach. At the bottom of the esophagus, there is a valve that usually prevents acid from washing up from the stomach. A muscle keeps usually the valve tightly closed. 

Some foods cause the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus to relax. Other foods cause the stomach to create more acid. This diet is designed to avoid these foods. Choose your foods according to the Food Guide Pyramid to meet your needs. 

Treatment may include medications, but the following guidelines should be followed: 

GERD Diet – General Guidelines

  • Stop smoking and chewing tobacco.
  • Discuss your weight with your doctor. Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Do not overeat. Eat small portions at meals and snacks.
  • Avoid tight clothing, tight-fitting belts. Do not lie down or bend over within the first 15-30 minutes after eating.
  • Do not chew gum or suck on hard candy. Swallowing air with chewing gum and sucking on hard candy can cause belching and reflux.
  • Use bricks or wood blocks to raise the head of your bed 6-8 inches.
  • Do not eat/drink: Chocolate, tomatoes, tomato sauces, oranges, pineapple and grapefruit,mint, coffee, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and black pepper.
  • Eat a low-fat diet. Fatty, greasy foods cause your stomach to produce more acid.

GERD-Friendly Diet Recommendations

  Choose these foods / beverages Do not eat these foods / beverages
Fruits/juices Most fruits and fruit juices such as apple, grape, cranberry, banana, pears, etc. Citrus fruits: oranges, grapefruit
Soups Low-fat and fat-free soups such as clear broth based soups*. Regular cream soups, other high fat soups*.
Beverages Decaffeinated tea, herbal tea (not mint), Kool-Aid, soda, water, juices (except orange, grapefruit and pineapple). Coffee (regular and decaffeinated), alcohol, carbonated beverages.
Sweets and deserts Fruit ices, gelatin, popsicles, ice milks and frozen low-fat yogurt, low fat cookies and cakes (less than 3 g fat per serving). Chocolate and high fat deserts.
Vegetables All steamed, roasted, stir-fried (with little oil) vegetables. Fried, creamed vegetables.
Milk and dairy products Skim or 1% milk, lowfat yogurt, or cheeses (<3 g fat per oz). Whole and 2% milk, whole milk yogurt and cheeses. Chocolate milk and hot chocolate.
Bread, cereals and grain products Low-fat Made with whole milk or cream.
Meat, Chicken, Fish, and meat substitutes (nuts, tofu, etc) Low-fat meats with the fat trimmed before cooking, skinless poultry. Baked, broiled, poached roasted, without added fat. Sausage, bacon, fried meats and chicken, salami, bologna and other high fat meats (> 3 g per ounce). Chicken skin and meats with visible fat left on.
Oils, butter, margarine None, or small amounts. Animal or vegetable fats.

* Fat can be skimmed from the top of soups and stews when they are hot or cold. 

Credits for this dietary information go to Maureen Murtaugh, PhD.

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