Acid Reflux Foods to Avoid

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Reflux relief using 3 common grocery store items.


Acid reflux is a hugely uncomfortable problem that is caused by a number of different things, including a hiatus hernia, excess weight around the midriff and as a side effect of certain drugs. Acid reflux happens when the valve between the stomach and the esophagus weakens, allowing acid to creep up from the stomach up the throat and sometimes into the back of the mouth. Reflux can be very uncomfortable and can cause a burning sensation, pain in the abdomen, chest and throat, as well as a bitter taste in the mouth and feelings of pain especially after eating.

Acid reflux is not easy to tackle, but one of the best ways to treat it is to look at your food choices. Some foods are suitable for acid reflux sufferers, whilst other foods are not. However, foods listed below may be suitable for you to eat whilst they may cause horrendous reflux symptoms in other people. One of the best ways to track what causes acid reflux is to keep a food diary. Take note of everything you eat and then make notes if the food has caused heartburn. That way, you’ll know what to avoid in the future and to what extent that that particular food causes acid reflux in you.

In general, individuals suffering with acid reflux should avoid the following foods. However, if you eat these foods regularly and they don’t affect you, don’t stop eating them just because some people find that they are triggers of acid reflux.

FRUIT – orange, lemon, grapefruit, lime, tomato, cranberry, orange juice, lemon juice, grapefruit juice

VEGETABLES – onion, garlic, ginger, chili

MEAT – chicken nuggets, buffalo wings, ground beef, beef with any visible fat, pork with any visible fat

FATS – olive oil, groundnut oil, salad dressings containing cream, salad dressings containing oil, full fat cream, full fat milk

DAIRY – sour cream, milkshake, full fat cream and full fat milk, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, ice cream

GRAINS – ready meals such as spaghetti and sauce and mac and cheese as these items tend to have high levels of salt which can exacerbate GERD symptoms

DRINKS – alcohol, including liquor, beer, cider and lager, tea, coffee, wine

DESSERTS – fatty desserts such as doughnuts, chocolate, brownies, butter cookies, butter cakes and pound cake

Although these are the foods that most commonly cause acid reflux, the foods below also can cause acid reflux in some people and so you should eat them with your discretion.

FRUIT – peaches, apples, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes

VEGETABLES – leeks, sauerkraut, scallions

MEAT – lean ground beef, fried chicken, hot dog, ham, fried fish, tuna in olive oil not brine

FATS – ketchup

DAIRY – yoghurt, skim milk, frozen yoghurt or sorbet, low-fat cottage cheese, cheddar cheese

GRAINS – garlic bread, granola cereal, wholemeal muffins

DRINKS – non-alcoholic beer, wine and liquor, cola, root beer and other fizzy sugary soft drinks

A great thing to do to determine what you can safely eat is to include some of these foods in your diet after your initial diagnosis of acid reflux and keep note of them in the food diary mentioned above. Avoiding all of these foods completely will mean that you cannot have any way of knowing what will actually cause acid reflux – plus, it would be pretty miserable to stop eating all of your favorite foods all of the time. If you find that a lot of these foods cause acid reflux, try to look for substitutes – so cook food from scratch rather than buy processed food, use a sugar substitute such as Splenda, drink low-sugar soft drinks and decaffeinated tea and coffee and stick to whole grains rather than white carbohydrates. Speak to your doctor for more information on what can cause acid reflux and what foods you should be eating.