functional nutrition

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Alyssa Simpson RD, CDE, CLT
Alyssa Simpson

RDN, CGN, CLT
(602) 422-9800

Sibo Doctor Approved
certified gastrointestinal nutritionist
Sibo Doctor Approved
certified gastrointestinal nutritionist

7-Day GERD Diet Plan: Your Ultimate Guide to Rapid Relief from Acid Reflux

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7-day gerd diet plan

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Are you suffering from acid reflux? Perhaps you have been instructed to “avoid triggers foods,” given an acid-reducing medication, and then sent on your way? Despite this, are you still struggling with symptoms, or worried you will become reliant on medication?

I get it! Having faced similar challenges myself, I know how frustrating it is to wonder which foods to avoid, what is left to eat, and what else you can do to feel better.

In this comprehensive 7-day acid reflux diet pdf and ultimate guide, I will explain how foods trigger reflux, and provide all the information you need to learn exactly which foods to eat, and what to avoid, to soothe and heal your acid reflux. This guide is loaded with practical tips you can implement right away that I have gathered from having worked as a registered dietitian specializing in digestive health for over 10 years.

I have included this downloadable, printable 7-day GERD diet plan with ideas for low-acid meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks so you can hit the ground running with a GERD diet chart to calm your Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease symptoms fast. Let’s dive in!

Download your 7-day Acid Reflux Diet pdf.

What are Acid Reflux, GERD, and Heartburn?

Acid reflux is a common condition where stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a chronic and more severe form of acid reflux, while heartburn is a symptom of both acid reflux and GERD, characterized by a burning discomfort in the chest.

Dietary Interventions for Acid Reflux

The purpose of an acid reflux meal plan is threefold: to calm reflux symptoms by eliminating foods that may relax the LES, limit foods that may irritate the sensitive lining of your esophagus and stomach (like spicy foods and raw onions) and minimize foods that delay stomach emptying. For bonus points, incorporate foods that soothe and reinforce the mucosal layer protecting the cells of your esophagus and stomach lining.

How Foods Trigger Acid Reflux

If you’re like me, you enjoy understanding the “why” behind something, especially when considering cutting out your favorite foods. Here are some of the ways different foods can trigger reflux:

  1. Relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES): Certain foods, such as chocolate and mint, can relax the LES, the muscular ring that separates the esophagus from the stomach, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.
  2. Stomach & Esophageal Irritation: Spicy foods and acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes can irritate the esophagus and stomach, worsening GERD symptoms.
  3. Delayed Gastric Emptying: Eating fatty and fried foods can make your stomach take longer to empty, which means your esophagus stays exposed to stomach acid for a longer time.

Now, let’s put it all together and talk about what foods to avoid and what you should eat to calm your acid reflux.

10 Worst Foods for Acid Reflux

Graphic displays the 10 worst foods for acid reflux

Remember that GERD food triggers are highly individual, but these are the most common acid reflux trigger foods. These are foods that either relax the LES, irritate the lining of the digestive tract, or delay stomach emptying.

  1. Citrus fruits and juices
  2. Tomatoes and tomato-based products
  3. Chocolate
  4. Mint
  5. Coffee and tea
  6. Spicy foods
  7. Fatty or fried foods
  8. Onions and garlic
  9. Carbonated beverages
  10. Alcohol

8 Best Foods for Acid Reflux

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This list of foods to eat with acid reflux aims to reduce irritation of the esophagus and promote normal digestive motility:

  1. Non-Citrus Fruits: Bananas, melons, and apples.
  2. Vegetables: Leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.
  3. Lean Proteins: Skinless poultry, fish, and lean cuts of meat.
  4. Whole Grains: Oatmeal, brown rice, and whole-grain bread.
  5. Healthy Fats in moderate amounts: Avocado, olive oil, and nuts.
  6. Low-Fat Dairy: Yogurt, kefir, and skim milk.
  7. Herbs and Spices: Turmeric, dill, chives, parsley, and fennel.
  8. Non-Caffeinated Beverages: Water, herbal tea, and non-citrus juices.

5 Therapeutic Foods for Acid Reflux

Remember those bonus points I mentioned earlier? These foods aim to soothe your stomach, calm inflammation, aid healing, improve digestion, and support a healthy mucus lining.

  • Bone Broth: Contains nutrients like collagen that may support gut lining health and integrity.
  • Turmeric: Possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe the digestive tract.
  • Aloe Vera Juice: Known for its soothing properties and potential to reduce inflammation.
  • Papaya: Contains enzymes like papain that aid in digestion.
  • Marshmallow Root and Slippery Elm: Traditionally used for their mucilage content (a gooey, gel-like substance), which can help coat and soothe the digestive tract.

For examples of how to incorporate these foods into your acid reflux diet plan, download this GERD Diet pdf.

Portions and Meal Timing to Reduce Acid Reflux

Eat Smaller Portions

Eating big meals can put extra pressure on your stomach, making it easier for acid reflux to happen by relaxing the LES. On top of that, those hefty meals hanging out in your stomach for a while expose your esophagus to stomach acid for longer, leading to more reflux symptoms. To ease symptoms opt for smaller, regular meals for acid reflux, and avoid overeating.

Optimal Meal Timing

For better acid reflux management, finish meals 2-3 hours before bedtime, and eat smaller, balanced meals or snacks every 3-4 hours throughout the day. Skip late-night snacks to lower the chance of nighttime acid reflux.

Cooking Techniques to Minimize Triggers

These cooking techniques can help minimize potential triggers for acid reflux by reducing fat content, avoiding overly spicy or acidic preparations, and making foods gentler on the digestive system.

Baking, Grilling, Sautéing with Minimal Oil: These methods use minimal added fats and avoid frying-related triggers.

Steaming or Poaching: Gentle cooking with steam or simmering liquids helps preserve nutritional content and makes foods gentler on the digestive system.

Roasting: Roasting at moderate temperatures can enhance flavors without excessive use of spicy or acidic flavorings.

Reflux-Friendly Snacks

Eating snacks can help acid reflux by maintaining a more consistent stomach pH. The stomach’s pH is highest when empty, making it more acidic and potentially contributing to reflux. Snacking between meals can prevent prolonged periods of an empty stomach, helping to stabilize stomach acidity and reduce the likelihood of acid reflux symptoms.

Best Snacks

These snacks are often well-tolerated and may help alleviate acid reflux symptoms:

  • Bananas
  • Melons
  • Oatmeal
  • Graham crackers
  • Whole-grain rice cakes
  • Almond butter on whole-grain toast
  • Greek yogurt with honey
  • Vegetable sticks with hummus
  • Baked apple slices
  • Pears
  • Berries

Worst Snacks

These snacks can potentially trigger or exacerbate acid reflux symptoms due to their acidity or spicy nature and should be left out of a low-acid diet:

  • Citrus fruits and juices (oranges, grapefruits, lemons)
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Chocolate
  • Spicy chips
  • Peppermint candy
  • Salsa
  • Pickles
  • Citrus-flavored candies or gum
  • Sour cream and onion-flavored snacks

Dining Out

No doubt, the trickiest part of sticking to any therapeutic or special diet is eating out. You just don’t have the same control in a restaurant as you do at home. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are my top tips to steer clear of triggering reflux when dining out.

  • Choose Grilled or Baked Options: Opt for grilled or baked dishes instead of fried or heavily sautéed options to minimize added fats.
  • Select Lean Proteins: Choose lean proteins like chicken, turkey, or fish, and avoid fatty cuts of meat.
  • Avoid Triggering Ingredients: Be mindful of acidic, spicy, or heavily seasoned ingredients that may trigger reflux symptoms.
  • Opt for Smaller Portions: Order smaller portions or appetizers to prevent overeating. Consider placing half the meal in a to-go box before you start eating to avoid going overboard.
  • Request Modifications: Don’t hesitate to ask for modifications, such as having sauces or dressings served on the side. I waited tables for many years, and trust me, servers are used to special requests like this.
  • Skip Carbonated and Caffeinated Drinks: Opt for non-carbonated, non-caffeinated beverages to minimize acid production.
  • Ask About Cooking Methods: Ask how dishes are prepared and choose gentler cooking methods like grilling or steaming.
  • Consider a Salad with Low-Acid Ingredients: Choose salads (skipping the tomatoes), and dip bites in a small amount of creamy dressing or dress with olive oil and a sprinkle of cheese instead of acidic dressings.

Alternatives to Common Trigger Foods

Let’s dive into more details about some major trigger foods: desserts, flavor enhancers, and drinks. Sweets, such as cakes, ice cream, and pies, can slow stomach emptying, making reflux symptoms worse. Flavor enhancers often pack acidity (think vinegar-based dressings and sauces), spice, or fat. Beverages, including many fruit juices or commercial drinks with citric acid for a tangy taste, are often acidic too. In this section, we explore these three categories, pointing out common traps and suggesting friendly alternatives.

Sweets

Desserts That May Trigger Reflux
Citrus-flavored Desserts
  • Lemon bars
  • Key lime pie
  • Orange-flavored desserts
Chocolate Desserts
  • Chocolate cake
  • Brownies
High-Fat Desserts
  • Cheesecake
  • Ice cream
  • Cream pies
Mint-Flavored Desserts
  • Mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • Mint candies
Coffee-Flavored Desserts
  • Tiramisu
Reflux-Friendly Sweet Alternatives
  • Fresh Berries
  • Baked Apples or Pears
  • Banana “Ice Cream” (blended frozen bananas)
  • Oatmeal Cookies (low fat)
  • Yogurt Parfait
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Berry smoothie (use low-fat milk as a liquid base)

Flavor Enhancers

Flavor Enhancers That May Trigger Reflux
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Vinegar
  • Hot Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Onions (particularly raw)
Reflux-Friendly Flavor Enhancing Alternatives
  • Dried herbs
  • Mustard
  • Cinnamon
  • Fennel
  • Broths
  • Honey

Beverages

Beverages That May Trigger Reflux
  • Orange juice
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Tomato Juice:
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated Beverages
  • High-Fat Milkshakes

Reflux-Friendly Beverage Alternatives

  • Water
  • Coconut water
  • Carrot juice
  • Apple juice
  • Almond milk
  • Herbal tea

Best Tea for Acid Reflux

For optimal healing, we want not to just remove problem foods but to reinforce your nonacidic diet plan with beneficial foods to nourish and soothe you. And what is more soothing than a warm cup of tea?

As a registered dietitian specializing in digestive health, I get asked all the time things like “Is chamomile tea good for acid reflux?” “ What about other types of tea?” These are my favorite teas for soothing acid reflux:

  • Chamomile Tea: Known for its calming and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Marshmallow Root Tea: soothes and protects, easing acid reflux discomfort.
  • Licorice Tea: Increases mucous production and is anti-inflammatory.
  • Fennel Tea: Fennel may help soothe the digestive tract and alleviate symptoms of reflux and bloating.
  • Roasted Dandelion Tea: supports the production of digestive fluid and enzymes.

How I Can Help

In my private practice as a seasoned gut health registered dietitian, I offer personalized solutions to guide you toward rapid relief and lasting digestive wellness. My services include teaching you what to eat to quickly calm your symptoms, creating a personalized GERD meal plan tailored to your individual needs, implementing lifestyle changes to boost natural digestion processes, and providing healing remedies to repair damage to your esophagus.

On top of that, I use strategies and special supplements to make your digestion work better, along with functional nutrition interventions that delve into the root cause of your digestive issues. Specialty testing is also available to precisely identify underlying factors contributing to your acid reflux.

Don’t suffer for one more day when there are solutions available! Click here to schedule a free 15-minute call to discuss how I can help.

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