Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive condition where food or liquid from the stomach leaks backward up the esophagus causing heartburn, indigestion, nausea, and other symptoms.

GERD can cause regular discomfort, and in addition, if stomach acid creeps up into the esophagus, it can cause lasting damage. 

While there are many treatments for GERD, changing your diet is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to keep symptoms down. It’s commonly recommended because it has been proven to lower the likelihood of reflux or irritation.

To help you in your efforts to embark on a more GERD-friendly diet, we’ve developed a recipe search tool that understands what actually makes a GERD-friendly recipe. While you could also read and remember the things to avoid (acidic foods, alcohol, fats, etc.), we’ve made it simpler by building a tool that takes the guesswork out of your meal selection.

Read on to see how we determine whether or not a recipe is GERD-friendly.

What Makes a GERD-Friendly Diet

People with GERD should avoid known irritants such as highly-acidic foods, alcohol, fats, chocolate, and more. All of these foods are harder to digest and can adversely affect the acid in your stomach.

According to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, foods that typically compose a GERD-friendly diet affect your stomach differently, but all have the same outcome: they can lessen GERD symptoms.

For example, fats and fried foods decrease stomach pressure and delay the stomach’s emptying process, while the high acidity in citrus fruits can irritate the stomach’s contents.

What to Avoid Entirely

Avoiding large meals is one of the easiest ways to allow the stomach to empty properly to keep the chances of reflux to a minimum. This means eating five to six small meals a day instead of two or three large ones. It is also a good practice to avoid eating at least three hours before bedtime.

There are specific foods and beverages that can aggravate GERD. These include:

  • coffee (including decaf), tea, alcohol, colas, and all carbonated beverages
  • spicy foods (pepper, chili, Tabasco etc..)
  • citrus fruits, tomatoes, and juices
  • chocolate
  • mints
  • garlic
  • onions

Our recipes will never include any of these particularly GERD-aggravating ingredients or food items.

What to Limit

Certain foods are okay in limited moderation, but may create more of a nuisance for some people more than others. Here are some foods that may trigger GERD symptoms, and are therefore best eaten in small amounts. Our recipe search tool ensures that all GERD-friendly recipes have a safe amount of these ingredients:

Beverages

  • whole milk or chocolate milk
  • citrus juice/drinks
  • tomato based drinks
  • mint tea
  • reg. & decaf coffee
  • alcoholic beverages

Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta

  • high fat breads and cereals (doughnuts, croissants, pastries, muffins, granola)
  • French fries, potato & tortilla chips
  • pasta or rice with creamy or pesto sauce

Vegetables & Fruits

  • vegetables fried or prepared with cream sauces
  • tomatoes
  • citrus—orange, lemon, tangerine, pineapple, grapefruit, lime
  • citrus juices 

Meats & Fats

  • fried meat, fish, poultry
  • fatty meats- sausage, pepperoni, bacon, hot dogs
  • gravies
  • meat drippings
  • butter, margarine, cream
  • vegetable oils except in small amounts

 Desserts

  • most cakes, pies, cookies, candies, ice cream high in fat or containing chocolate 

What to Include

While it may appear there are a lot of foods on the list to avoid or eat in small amounts, there are still plenty of foods that won’t bother your guts. Typically, our search tool will bring up recipes that either feature these ingredients, or utilize them in place of some of the “ingredients to limit” listed above:

Beverages

  • nonfat or low fat milk
  • non-mint herbal tea
  • non-citrus juices

Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta

  • plain, low fat bread, cereals, crackers, muffins, tortillas, pancakes, waffles
  • plain boiled pasta, rice

Vegetables & Fruits

  • all vegetables with little added fat or sauces
  • all fruits except citrus

Meats & Fats

  • lean meat, fish, poultry
  • low fat cheese, yogurt
  • low fat beans, peas, lentils
  • tofu
  • eggs
  • non fat or low fat salad dressings, mayonnaise
  • small amounts of vegetable oil

Desserts

  • angel food cake
  • sponge cake
  • low fat cakes and cookies
  • low fat frozen yogurt, ice cream, sherbet
  • hard candy