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Healthy Choices for GERD

When following a diet for GERD, people should choose a wide variety of low-calorie, nutritious foods in moderate amounts. This should include lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free milk, as well as fish, lean meat, poultry, or dry beans. Also, choose foods that are low in fat and added sugars.
A healthy GERD diet includes the following:
  • 8 to 10 percent of the day's total calories coming from saturated fat.
  • 30 percent or less of the day's total calories coming from fat.
  • Choosing sensible food portions.
  • Consuming fewer than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a day.
  • Limiting sodium intake to 2,400 milligrams a day.
  • Consuming just enough calories to achieve or maintain a healthy weight and reduce blood cholesterol level. (Ask your doctor or registered dietitian to recommend a reasonable calorie level for you.)
When starting a GERD diet, the first step is knowing the foods that can trigger GERD symptoms. The next step is knowing which foods trigger symptoms in you specifically. If you love pasta with tomato sauce, see if this meal makes your GERD symptoms worse. If it does not, then this may be a food that you can continue to have.

Changing When and How Much to Eat

In addition to avoiding certain foods, the diet for GERD involves changing when and how much you eat. This is because large meals can affect digestion in many ways. For example, large meals can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax more, make your stomach produce more acid, and put pressure on the sphincter from inside your stomach.
You should also not eat for at least two to three hours before bedtime and avoid lying down after any meal. Acid reflux is less likely to be a problem when you are standing up, because gravity helps prevent food and acid from moving back up into your esophagus. Also, by not eating right before bedtime, the levels of acid and food should be lower the next morning.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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