Certain foods and beverages can irritate the stomach lining or relax the lower esophageal sphincter, making it easier for acid to reflux into the esophagus.
And it’s not just what you eat, it’s the way you eat it. If your stomach is too full, for example, it’s easier for acid to reflux.
The trick is finding what combination of foods and habits causes your heartburn. It may help to keep a good log of your eating patterns, in addition to the foods you eat. That way, you can find what combination of causes contribute to your heartburn symptoms.
No one can change his or her diet overnight. Habits and tastes you’ve spent years developing may seem impossible to break, even if they are causing health problems like heartburn. Try taking it one step at a time. Even small changes in your diet and lifestyle can improve your health. It may be, for example, that eating certain foods late at night causes heartburn. You can continue eating those foods, just not right before bed.
What you eat
In general, it’s best to avoid acidic and high-fat foods. Unfortunately, a lot of foods fall into that category, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat plain brown rice for the rest of your life. It may be that only one or two of the foods listed below actually spur your symptoms, in which case you can eat as much of the others as you want.
To find the culprit, try eliminating them from your diet one by one. You could also try keeping a record of your diet and heartburn episodes for two weeks. Then look it over; you may be surprised how easy it is to see the connection between reflux and specific foods.
citrus, like oranges, lemons and limes
Specific foods that can aggravate GERD include:
tomatoes or tomato-based sauces
chili powder, or other spicy flavorings
mints and chocolate
coffee, colas, alcohol, and citrus or tomato juices
These foods probably won’t bother you:apples and bananas
green beans, carrots, broccoli and baked potatoes (as long as they don’t have a high-fat topping)
most grains and cereals
low fat cheeses, including feta and goat cheese
fish, London broil steak, meat cooked on a grill
low fat candies like jelly beans, gummy bears or sucking candies
How you eat it
Altering your eating patterns may also relieve some heartburn symptoms: Instead of eating three large meals every day, eat four or more smaller ones. That way, the food won’t overflow your stomach.
Don’t lie down or go to bed for two to three hours after you eat.
Eat a lot of fiber to encourage digestion.
Drink a lot of water, but try not to drink during meals.
Don’t smoke or chew gum right after you eat.
Again, it may help to keep a log of these habits along with recording the foods you eat. After a couple weeks, examine the log to try and determine what causes your heartburn.
Last updated: 25-Jun-03