If you’ve felt the burning, blistering, and nauseating effects of GERD, you know how uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating the condition can be. What if there was a diet plan you could follow that would help to provide long-term relief from GERD symptoms? There is!
The following 7 day GERD diet plan has been specifically designed to help control acid reflux and heartburn. It includes plenty of nutritious foods that are low in acid, as well as foods to avoid. By following this plan, you can help to keep your GERD under control and minimize the symptoms.
But first we’ll need to understand a little bit more about how GERD works.
What Is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a condition that occurs when stomach acid and other contents of the stomach flow back up into the esophagus. This can cause heartburn, chest pain, and regurgitation (6).
GERD is caused by a weak or dysfunctional esophageal sphincter, which is the valve that separates the stomach and esophagus. When this valve isn’t working properly, stomach acid and other contents can flow back up into the esophagus, causing the symptoms of GERD (6).
Several things can contribute to a weak or dysfunctional esophageal sphincter, including:
When you’re overweight, the extra pounds can put pressure on the stomach and esophagus, which can cause the esophageal sphincter to relax, allowing stomach contents to flow backwards (11).
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Smoking can damage the esophageal tissues and increase the risk of GERD symptoms (16). This is especially true if you smoke before or after meals.
During pregnancy, the growing fetus puts pressure on the stomach, which can cause the esophageal sphincter to relax (13).
A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. This can put pressure on the esophageal sphincter and contribute to GERD symptoms (14).
Several medications can relax the esophageal sphincter, which can lead to GERD symptoms (22). These include:
- Calcium channel blockers
Certain Foods And Drinks
Many foods and drinks can relax the esophageal sphincter or increase stomach acid production, which can lead to GERD symptoms (10) (14). These include:
- Fatty and fried foods
- Spicy foods
What Are The Symptoms Of GERD?
The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. This is a burning sensation in the chest that often occurs after eating. Other symptoms of GERD can include (6):
- Chest pain
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
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How Can I Treat GERD?
If you are experiencing symptoms of GERD, there are many things you can do to get relief. These include:
Several over-the-counter medications can help to relieve the symptoms of GERD. It would still be wise to speak to your doctor before starting these. They include (20):
- Antacids – these contain baking soda and other ingredients that neutralize stomach acid.
- H2 blockers – these work by blocking the production of stomach acid.
- Proton pump inhibitors – these work by blocking the enzyme in the stomach that produces stomach acid.
If over-the-counter medications don’t provide relief, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medication, such as (20):
- Prokinetics – these work by helping the stomach empty more quickly.
- Antibiotics – these are sometimes prescribed if GERD is caused by a bacterial infection.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat GERD. This is typically only recommended for severe cases that haven’t responded to other treatments (18).
A healthy 7 day GERD diet plan can help to control the symptoms of GERD and improve your overall health. This plan includes plenty of foods that are low in acid and are GERD-safe.
What Are The Qualities Of GERD Safe Foods?
Certain qualities of food make it safe for people with GERD. In general, these foods will be:
Low In Acid
GERD is caused by acid reflux, which means that foods with a high acid content might make your symptoms worse (19). To avoid this, you’ll want to focus on low-acid foods, such as:
- Fruits: apples, bananas, melon, pears
- Vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, carrots, green beans
- Grains: rice, oats, quinoa
- Dairy: plain yogurt, cottage cheese
- Protein: chicken, fish, tofu
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High In Fiber
Fiber helps to keep things moving through your digestive system, which can be helpful if you’re struggling with constipation or diarrhea (9). Foods that are high in fiber include:
- Fruits: raspberries, pears, apples
- Vegetables: peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
- Grains: whole wheat bread, quinoa, oats
- Beans and legumes: black beans, kidney beans, lentils
Easy To Digest
When you’re dealing with GERD, you want to make sure that the foods you’re eating are easy to digest. This means avoiding fatty, greasy, or fried foods as well as spicy foods, which cause your stomach to produce more acid to break them down (19). Instead, opt for:
- Fruits and vegetables that are cooked rather than raw
- Grains that have been boiled or steamed
- Lean protein sources like chicken or fish
Low In Sugar
Sugar in small amounts probably won’t aggravate your GERD symptoms, but many sugary foods contain other ingredients that might, such as chocolate or a lot of fat. Furthermore, sugary foods often cause weight gain that can aggravate GERD symptoms (4).
This includes things like candy, cake, soda, and other processed sweets. Instead, try to get your sugar from:
- Fruits: berries, melon, grapes
- Vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, beets
- Whole grains: oatmeal, brown rice
- Dairy: plain low-fat yogurt, unsweetened milk
Rich In Prebiotics And Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics are two types of “good” bacteria that can help improve gut health. Prebiotics are a type of fiber that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut, while probiotics are live bacteria that help to balance the levels of good and bad bacteria in your gut (5).
Research has shown that both probiotics and prebiotics can help to reduce GERD symptoms (2) (7). Some good sources of prebiotics and probiotics include:
- Prebiotics: Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, chicory root, garlic, onions, leeks
- Probiotics: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso soup, kombucha tea
Rich In Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat that has been shown to be beneficial for gut health. They help to reduce inflammation, which can be helpful if you’re struggling with GERD (12). Some good sources of omega-3s include:
- Fish: salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel
- Nuts and seeds: flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts
- Plant oils: olive oil, sunflower oil, flaxseed oil
Low In Sodium
Sodium is a type of electrolyte that helps to balance the fluid levels in your body. However, too much sodium can cause fluid retention, which can make GERD symptoms worse (15). To avoid this, you’ll want to LIMIT THESE FOODS:
- Processed meats: bacon, ham, sausage
- Condiments: soy sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce
- Snack foods: chips, pretzels, crackers
- Canned soups and vegetables
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Low In Unhealthy Fats
Your body needs fat to function, but not all fats are created equal. Saturated and trans fats can aggravate GERD symptoms by stimulating the production of acid in your stomach (1). To avoid this, you’ll want to LIMIT THESE:
- Red meat
- Full-fat dairy products
- Processed baked goods
Instead keep your portion sizes moderate and focus on eating healthy fats, such as:
- Nuts and seeds
- olive oil, sunflower oil, flaxseed oil
Menu For 7 Day GERD Diet Plan
The following 7 day GERD meal plan has been specifically designed to help control acid reflux and heartburn. It includes plenty of nutritious foods that are low in acid, as well as foods to avoid. By following this plan, you can keep your GERD under control and minimize your symptoms.
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with raisins and almonds
- Lunch: Garden salad with low-acid dressing
- Snack: Apple or banana
- Dinner: Baked fish with roasted vegetables
- Breakfast: Egg white omelet with spinach and mushrooms
- Lunch: Turkey sandwich with whole-grain bread and avocado
- Snack: Low-fat yogurt
- Dinner: Grilled chicken breast with brown rice and steamed broccoli
- Breakfast: Whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana
- Lunch: Tuna salad sandwich on whole-grain bread
- Snack: Hummus and vegetables
- Dinner: Roast beef with mashed potatoes and green beans
- Breakfast: Fruit smoothie
- Lunch: Green salad with grilled chicken
- Snack: String cheese
- Dinner: Spaghetti squash with Marinara sauce
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries and flaxseed
- Lunch: Chicken wrap with lettuce and low fat sauce
- Snack: carrots and celery with ranch dressing
- Dinner: Salmon with quinoa and green beans
- Breakfast: Frittata with vegetables
- Lunch: Cobb salad with grilled chicken
- Snack: Popcorn
- Dinner: Grilled steak with roasted potatoes and asparagus
- Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit parfait
- Lunch: Turkey burger on a whole-grain bun
- Snack: Veggies and hummus
- Dinner: Chicken curry with brown rice and peas
Lifestyle Changes For GERD Management
Along with following the complete acid reflux diet plan, there are several changes in lifestyle that you can make to ensure long-term relief from your symptoms. Some of the most important lifestyle changes to consider are:
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Obesity is closely linked to GERD, as extra weight puts pressure on the stomach and can lead to the opening of the LES (11). If you are overweight or obese, even a small amount of weight loss can reduce your symptoms.
In addition to helping with weight management, exercise appears to be protective against some GERD symptoms (7).
Avoid Trigger Foods
As mentioned above, certain foods are more likely to trigger GERD symptoms, but your individual triggers may be specific to you. Avoiding these foods can help prevent flares.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol consumption can relax the lower esophageal sphincter and lead to heartburn (14). If you do drink alcohol, it is best to do so in moderation.
Smoking can irritate the lining of the stomach and esophagus, making GERD symptoms worse (16). If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health.
Eat Small Frequent Meals
Small, frequent meals are easier on the stomach than large meals and can help reduce symptoms. Also, if you experience heartburn after eating, try waiting a few hours before lying down.
Eat Slowly And Chew Thoroughly
When you eat quickly, you are more likely to swallow air, which can lead to gas and bloating. Chewing your food thoroughly also helps digestion and reduces the risk of developing GERD symptoms (3).
Eat Sitting Up
Eating while lying down or lying down soon after your meal can increase the risk of GERD symptoms (3). Try to eat when sitting or standing up to reduce the risk of heartburn. Taking a walk after eating a meal can also help.
Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing
Tight clothing can put pressure on the stomach and lead to heartburn (3). Wearing loose-fitting clothing can help to prevent this.
Take Medications As Directed
If you are taking medications for GERD, make sure to take them as directed by your doctor. Do not stop taking them or adjust them without first talking to your doctor.
Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, can help to keep the digestive system moving and reduce the risk of constipation, which can trigger symptoms (21).
As mentioned above, stress is a common trigger for GERD symptoms (17). Finding ways to reduce stress, such as through relaxation techniques or exercise, can help to prevent flares.
Avoid Late Night Eating
Eating late at night and going to bed soon after can put pressure on the stomach and lead to GERD symptoms. Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening and avoid snacking too close to bedtime.
The Bottom Line
The 7 day GERD diet plan is a great way to get started on reducing your symptoms. However, making lifestyle changes and talking to your doctor about medication are also important for long-term relief. Consider making some or all of the changes listed above to help keep your GERD under control.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Assessment of dietary nutrients that influence perception of intra‐oesophageal acid reflux events in patients with gastro‐oesophageal reflux disease (2006, onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
- Beneficial effect of probiotics supplements in reflux esophagitis treated with esomeprazole: A randomized controlled trial (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dietary and Lifestyle Factors Related to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: A Systematic Review (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dietary Carbohydrate Intake, Insulin Resistance, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): A Pilot Study in European- and African-American Obese Women (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
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- Obesity & GERD (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Processes (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Prevalence and risk factors for gastroesophageal reflux in pregnancy (2011, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Risk factors for gastroesophageal reflux disease and analysis of genetic contributors (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
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- STRESS AND GASTROESOPHAGEAL REFLUX DISEASE (2018, researchgate.net)
- Surgical Treatment (2001, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The role of diet in the development and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease: why we feel the burn (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Treatment Options for GERD or Acid Reflux Disease: A Review of the Research for Adults (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Water, hydration, and health (2011, academic.oup.com)
- Which drugs are risk factors for the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease? (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)