Reduce GERD Through Meal Planning
The symptoms of GERD can range from mildly uncomfortable to debilitating. Over time, GERD can even damage the esophagus and raise your risk of esophageal cancer. For this reason, effective treatment of GERD is important. Fortunately, you can reduce the symptoms of GERD through simple lifestyle changes. Below are some meal-planning tips for patients with GERD.
1. Include fiber.
Studies have showed that diets high in fiber can reduce the symptoms of heartburn. High-fiber foods include nuts, seeds, beans, fruits and vegetables.
2. Drink water.
Drinking water at the end of your meal can wash acid down into the stomach and reduce heartburn symptoms.
3. Avoid heartburn triggers.
Certain foods can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, which contributes to heartburn. These foods include fatty or fried foods, alcohol, caffeine, peppermint and chocolate. Certain foods may also be more likely to irritate the esophagus. These foods, which may include pepper, tomato and citrus, should be avoided as well.
4. Cook low fat meals.
Meals that are greasy or high in fat content will stay in the stomach longer than low-fat meals, possibly contributing to heartburn. Likewise, eating low-fat meals promotes weight loss, which can be beneficial if you have GERD and are overweight.
5. Eat small meals.
When you eat a large meal, the fullness of your stomach can force acid into your esophagus. To avoid this problem, eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of larger ones.
6. Don’t lie down.
Lying down can contribute to heartburn by making it easier for acid to move out of the stomach and into the esophagus. After eating, you should avoid lying down for at least two hours. When you sit upright or stand, gravity helps to keep stomach contents where they belong.
7. Don’t drink or smoke.
During and immediately after meals, avoid drinking alcohol or smoking, as both of these activities can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter.
8. Drink beverages that don’t contribute to heartburn.
Certain beverages, such as soda, juice and caffeinated drinks, can aggravate the symptoms of GERD. Avoid these beverages and choose milk, non-citrus juice or water instead.