To reduce symptoms of GERD, you need to:

  • avoid foods that trigger your symptoms
  • eat more frequent, smaller meals since overeating can cause symptoms

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Certain foods may affect how well the lower esophageal sphincter works or irritate the tissues that line the esophagus . If you have GERD, you need to avoid foods that cause these problems. You should also eat smaller, more frequent meals, because large meals may increase your risk of reflux.

What foods should I avoid?

Here are some common types of foods that may be playing a role in your GERD. These recommended dietary changes don't mean you're restricted to a bland diet. With planning, you can enjoy tasty meals and still control GERD.

Type of Food Specific Foods How the Food Causes Symptoms
High-fat foods
  • cheese
  • fatty beef
  • hot dogs
  • slows the emptying of the stomach's contents, which increases the risk of reflux
  • weakens or prevents the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, from working properly
Fried foods
  • donuts
  • French fries
  • slows the emptying of the stomach's contents
  • weakens or prevents the LES from working well
Tomato-based products
  • barbecue sauce
  • chili
  • ketchup
  • pizza
  • salsa
  • spaghetti sauce
  • tomato juice
  • tomatoes
  • irritates the lining of the esophagus
Citrus-based products
  • lemonade
  • lemons
  • limes
  • orange juice
  • oranges
  • pineapple
  • irritates the lining of the esophagus
Some candies
  • cake
  • candy, including chocolate, peppermint, and spearmint
  • cookies
  • hot cocoa
  • weakens or relaxes the LES
Alcohol
  • beer
  • hard liquor
  • relaxes the LES
Caffeinated drinks
  • coffee
  • tea
  • irritates the lining of the esophagus
  • may weaken the LES
Carbonated beverages
  • seltzer/club soda
  • soft drinks
  • may cause the stomach to distend and cause reflux
Spicy foods
  • curries
  • garlic
  • hot sauce
  • jalepeno peppers/hot peppers
  • mustard
  • onion
  • salsa
  • irritates the lining of the esophagus
  • weakens or prevents the LES from working well