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What are the Different Foods to Avoid with GERD?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Feb 06, 2024
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Foods to avoid with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) depend greatly on each individual with the condition. For example, for some GERD sufferers, foods that are very acidic increase the risk of regurgitation of stomach acid, but for others they aren't a problem. The best way to discover foods to avoid with GERD is for individuals with the condition to keep a food journal. Whether reactions of stomach acid reflux, or regurgitation, seem to be increased by acidic or dairy foods or those high in fat or caffeine, keeping a journal can help identify which ones an individual with GERD should avoid.

The caffeine in chocolate and coffee bothers some people with GERD. Even decaffeinated coffee is a problem for some people. Tea and alcohol are other beverages that should be avoided if they cause stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.

Common acid-causing foods to avoid with GERD are those high in fat. Marbled beef, cookies, doughnuts, French fries and potato chips are high in fat and may aggravate stomach acid production in some people. Salad dressings may also be problematic, especially spicy types. Although spicy foods don't cause stomach acid regurgitation, or reflux, in all people with GERD, they do bother some.

Although some people with ulcers or with GERD report that milk, ice cream, cottage cheese and yogurt soothe the stomach, others find that they later irritate the stomach to produce acid back up. Unless instructed otherwise from a doctor, each patient will have to eat and learn what dairy and other foods to avoid with GERD. Of course people who are lactose-intolerant or allergic to certain foods must avoid those altogether. Any type of food or drink that aggravates GERD will reduce the pressure in the esophageal muscles so the stomach acid becomes more likely to back up rather than staying down.

Some fruits and vegetables are acidic and may be foods to avoid with GERD. Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruits, as well as their juice, cause stomach acid regurgitation in some people who have GERD. Enjoying these citrus foods or juices in small amounts may be fine for some GERD patients, while others will need to completely avoid them. Tomatoes are also bothersome to some people with GERD; this includes tomato sauce. Cabbage and raw onion are vegetables that cause acid reflux reactions in some people, while others with GERD aren't bothered by them.

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Discussion Comments
By Lostnfound — On Nov 30, 2014

Milk did help me. I actually switched to almond milk, which seemed to help a lot. I did eat yogurt, too. I also added probiotic powder to it to help my digestion, and that really seemed to do a lot of good for me. I think getting the gut flora restored helped me digest my food and sort of "reset" the acid production.

But I was eating a lot of liquids, like soup, gelatin, mashed potatoes, rice, white meat turkey and chicken -- that kind of thing. It killed me because I love spicy, flavorful foods, and I had to dramatically alter my diet for about a month so my stomach had a chance to heal. I did it, but it was tough. I've never eaten really high fat foods, but I really do like tomato sauce, mustard, hot sauce -- that kind of thing. Everything you don't need with GERD, in other words.

By Grivusangel — On Nov 29, 2014

GERD is a weird thing. When I had a bout with it, I was down to chicken soup and crackers, and I was still having problems. I was eating as little fat as a person can, along with bland foods, but it didn't matter. I was still having problems and eating antacids like candy. I was exercising, sleeping with my head and shoulders elevated -- you name it. But not much was working.

I finally got some omeprazole and that was the only thing that really helped. It's better now, thank goodness, but sometimes, medication is about all that makes the situation better.

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