5 Lifestyle Tips for GERD Sufferers


Be a Pickier Eater

This is what we call heartburn/a heart attack on a plate.
This is what we call heartburn/a heart attack on a plate.
© iStockphoto.com/Stormcab

If you want to better control GERD, you need to get better control of your diet. The foods you eat -- and when you eat them -- play a big role in the frequency and intensity of your GERD-related heartburn.

While some foods affect certain GERD sufferers more than others, there are some dietary rules of thumb that may offer relief.

When it comes to fried foods like French fries or onion rings, it's best for GERD sufferers (and most everyone else, really) to just leave them alone. Peppermint can actually prompt the LES to relax, so it's best to avoid it if you notice that consuming it precedes bouts of heartburn. The same goes for chocolate and carbonated beverages. However, it should be noted that cutting these items from your diet may not significantly improve your reflux -- so if they don't bother you, go ahead and keep munching (in moderation, of course) [source: Bergeron].

High-fat foods seem to prolong the amount of time it takes for the stomach to empty, so switching to a low-fat diet may help you curb your heartburn. Stay away from citrus products, tomato juice and other acidic foods.

Finally, eat your least meal of the day several hours before you go to bed, so that it's fully digested by the time you lie down.

Want more on fighting acid reflux and GERD? Try the links to HowStuffWorks articles below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Gastroenterological Association. "Heartburn." April 2008. (June 18, 2009) http://www.gastro.org/wmspage.cfm?parm1=848
  • Bergeron, Louis. "Chocolate, wine and spicy foods may be OK for heartburn." Stanford News Service, June 21, 2006.http://news.stanford.edu/news/2006/june21/med-heartburn-062106.html
  • Cleveland Clinic. "Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)." (June 18, 2009) http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/gastroesophageal_reflux_gerd/hic_gastroesophageal_reflux_disease_gerd.aspx
  • International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. "Treatment of GERD." May 3, 2009.http://www.aboutgerd.org/site/about-gerd/treatment/
  • Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology. "Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease." (June 19, 2009) http://www.gicare.com/diseases/GERD.aspx
  • Marks, Jay W. "Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD, Acid Reflux, Heartburn)." (June 17, 2009)http://www.medicinenet.com/gastroesophageal_reflux_disease_gerd/article.htm
  • Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. "GERD." May 23, 2009. (June 16, 2009) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gerd/ds00967
  • Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. "Heartburn." May 23, 2009. (June 16, 2009) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heartburn-gerd/DS00095
  • McKinley Health Center. "The GERD Diet." 2008. (June 19, 2009) http://www.mhc.uiuc.edu/Handouts/gerd_diet.html
  • MedicineNet. "Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): How is GERD Treated?" (June 18, 2009) http://www.medicinenet.com/gastroesophageal_reflux_disease_gerd/page6.htm
  • Mozes, Alan. "Gastric Band Weight-Loss Surgery Can Boost Reflux." U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 22, 2008.http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2008/08/22/gastric-band-weight-loss-surgery-can-boost-reflux.html
  • National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. "Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)." May 2007. (June 17, 2009)http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/


You've Been Diagnosed with GERD. What Now?

You've Been Diagnosed with GERD. What Now?

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