Things to Stop Doing If You Have GERD

When you suffer from chronic heartburn that can be associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), this condition can affect your entire life. It may be necessary to stop eating some of your favorite foods. The heartburn may interfere with your sleep. It may even interfere with your availability to work well.

Even when you and doctor decide on for your GERD treatment, it’s also important to know what not to do as it is to know what to do. The following are 10 things you may be doing and should stop if you don’t want to suffer from a bout of heartburn.


1.Don’t Overeat

Man eating spaghetti


Large meals expand your stomach and increase upward pressure against the lower esophageal sphincter (LES — the valve between your esophagus and your stomach), which can lead to heartburn. Try these tips:

  • Eat six smaller meals each day instead of three larger ones. This will help keep the stomach from becoming too full and will also help prevent excessive production of stomach acid.
  • Three smaller meals and three snacks can also help.

2.Don’t Eat too Quickly

Smiling woman eating and enjoying garden party dinner

When we eat too fast, it is harder for our digestive system to perform the way it should. We could end up suffering from poor digestion, which increases your chances of experiencing heartburn.

Some way to help you slow down while eating:

  • Put your fork or spoon down between bites.
  • Chew your food thoroughly before swallowing.
  • Chew 20 times or count to 20 before the next bite.
  • Take smaller bites.

3.Don’t Eat the Foods That Can Trigger Your



There are a couple reasons why some foods cause heartburn: 1) When the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes when it shouldn’t; or (2) when the stomach produces too much acid.

When the LES is the culprit, food and stomach acid come back up into your esophagus. Some of the foods that can relax the LES include:

  • Fried (greasy) foods
  • High-fat meats
  • Creamy sauces
  • Whole-milk dairy products
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint
  • Caffeinated beverages (e.g., soft drinks, coffee, tea, cocoa)

Foods that may stimulate acid production and increase heartburn include:

  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Citrus fruit and juices (e.g., orange, grapefruit)
  • Tomato-based products

Knowing what is safe for you to eat and what you need to avoid is as important for eating out in restaurants as it is for eating at home. You need to know what to ask for and what you should avoid. When you ask how the food is prepared, avoid certain beverages, and watch portion sizes, you can prevent the heartburn.

What you should look for and ask for when in a restaurant:

  • White meat
  • Lean cuts of meat
  • Sandwiches with turkey, chicken, or roast beef on whole grain bread
  • Grilled foods
  • Broth-based soups
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Baked potatoes topped with low-fat salad dressing
  • Low-fat or no-fat salad dressings
  • Lighter desserts, such as angel food cake

Dining at Chinese, Mexican, or Italian restaurants may be more difficult, since food at these restaurants may contain more ingredients that can trigger your heartburn. It is possible to enjoy dining there if you know what to avoid.

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