Foods To Eat—And Avoid—If You Have GERD

If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), what you eat is just as important as how you eat.

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When you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), your stomach acid can flow the wrong way and back up into your esophagus—the tube connecting your stomach and mouth.

This backward movement of stomach acid is known as acid reflux. When acid reflux happens, your esophagus gets irritated, and you may experience heartburn.

Avoiding late-night snacks and not laying down or going to bed right after meals are ways to prevent the esophagus burn caused by acid reflux. But people with GERD should also watch what and how they eat.

Here are some foods to eat for potential GERD relief—and some foods to avoid because they can trigger acid reflux.

Foods To Eat When You Have GERD

If you have GERD, there are a variety of foods that might help reduce symptoms of the condition.

High-Fiber Foods

Eating more foods with fiber has been found to decrease symptoms of GERD (e.g., heartburn), though the exact reason why is unknown.

Per 1,000 food calories, the recommended amount of fiber a person should have is 14 grams. Luckily, there are a lot of options available for you to get more dietary fiber, especially if you have GERD. Foods that are great sources of fiber include:

  • Beans and peas
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains (e.g., oats, brown rice)
  • Nuts and seeds

Of note, taking in a lot of fiber too fast—without enough fluids—can lead to other digestion-related issues like nausea or constipation. So take your time when adding more fiber to your diet.


Another food to eat if you have GERD is bananas. Bananas are a part of what's called the bland diet. The bland diet includes foods recommended when people have gastrointestinal (GI) problems, and the diet includes foods that are low-acid. Low-acid or high-alkaline foods may help ease GERD symptoms by calming stomach acid.

Additionally, bananas contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps food move through your digestive system.

Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are fibrous foods that will fill you up and prevent you from overeating, which often causes heartburn. Root vegetables you could try adding to your diet include:

Some ways to enjoy eating these foods are roasting, baking, or sauteing them. Some root vegetables, like carrots, can even be eaten raw.

High-Water Foods

Water can dilute stomach acid, making it less harmful. So, foods that have a high water content may lessen GERD symptoms.

Fruits like strawberries, and watermelon and vegetables like lettuce and spinach are mostly made of water and have 90% to 100% water content. And choices with 70-89% water content are foods such as:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Carrots
  • Pears

Pasta—With the Right Sauce

If you choose to eat pasta among some of your whole-grain choices for fiber, make sure you pick the right kind of sauce to go with it. Tomato-based sauces might be your go-to sauce for pasta dishes. However, tomatoes—due to their acid—are a no-no for people with GERD.

You could try using chicken broth as a "sauce" for your pasta. You might consider adding a root vegetable to your pasta to lessen the possibility of aggravating any GERD symptoms.

Foods to Avoid When You Have GERD

Just as there are foods that might relieve symptoms of GERD, there are also foods that can make symptoms worse.

High-Fat, Spicy, or Fried Foods

GERD symptoms may be worse when you eat foods such as pizza, burgers, or wings. Fatty, spicy, or fried foods can slow down how the stomach empties. They can also cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)—the opening to your stomach—to relax, leading to acid reflux.

What's more, some spicy foods may have higher contents of capsaicin, a chemical compound that is found in chili peppers. Capsaicin can make LES pressure and contractions of the esophagus go up. And the spicier the food, the worse GERD symptoms get.

Acidic Foods and Drinks

Research has suggested that acidic foods and drinks can cause further issues for individuals with GERD. People might experience GERD symptoms due to increased acidic fluid, frequent swallowing, and lowered esophagus pH from these foods and drinks.

Other than tomatoes and tomato-based products, some acidic foods and drinks you may consider avoiding include:


Although it affects a small number of individuals who have GERD, mint is still considered to be a common trigger for those individuals. Like fatty or spicy foods, mint can lead to acid reflux from a relaxed LES.


Research has shown that drinking alcohol has been related to GERD. Alcohol, too, can make the LES relax and increase the esophagus' exposure to stomach acid.

But problems with GERD can worsen depending on how much alcohol a person drinks and how often they drink it. For example, drinking too much is considered to be a risk factor for having symptoms of GERD.

What Does It Mean to Drink Too Much?

Drinking too much, or excessive drinking, can be considered binge drinking or heavy drinking. Binge drinking is having four to five drinks or more in one sitting. Heavy drinking is having eight or more drinks (for women) or 15 or more drinks (for men) on a weekly basis.

Also, one study found that there was a weaker link between GERD and drinking occasionally or not at all. However, drinking more often (i.e., more than three to five times or days per week) might result in a person experiencing GERD symptoms.


Sources of caffeine—including coffee and chocolate—have been identified as potential GERD symptom triggers. GERD symptoms might occur with caffeine due to the stimulant's ability to lead to a relaxed LES.

When To See a Healthcare Provider

If you make changes with what you eat but your symptoms of GERD don't get better, talk with a healthcare provider. You'll also want to seek medical attention if you experience:

  • Choking along with coughing and shortness of breath
  • Feeling fuller quicker when you eat or that food is stuck behind your breast bone
  • Vomiting more often
  • Problems swallowing
  • Weight or appetite loss
  • Bleeding
  • Hoarseness

A Quick Review

Choosing food wisely is a key factor in minimizing the effects of GERD. Foods that are high in water (e.g., strawberries) and fiber (e.g., nuts and seeds) are some good choices to go for, along with root vegetables like carrots or potatoes.

However, there are foods you want to avoid, like spicy, fried, or acidic foods, since they might make GERD worse. See a healthcare provider if you still have issues with GERD, even after making dietary changes.

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