Foods to Avoid and Foods to Add When Faced with a Diagnosis of GERD

Continuing our series on gastrointestinal health written in partnership with the Heartburn and Reflux Center at Florida Hospital Altamonte, today’s article provides food ideas and recipes when dealing with GERD.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also knowns as GERD, affects more than 7 million people in the United States.  Of those 7 million, approximately 20% of patients deal with symptoms that occur weekly.

If you are one of the 7 million who are struggling to alleviate discomfort from GERD, your doctor most likely will recommend prescription and over-the-counter medications.  However, dietary changes focused on both food elimination and addition, could further help minimize symptoms.

According to, these are the trigger foods for GERD.  Avoiding these particular foods can help reduce episodes.

  • Meats: ground beef, buffalo wings, marbled sirloin and chicken nuggets
  • Fruits/Juices: Orange juice, lemon, lemonade, grapefruit juice, cranberry juice
  • Vegetables: Tomato, mashed potatoes, raw onion, potato salad, French fries
  • Fats, Oils & Sweets: Chocolate, brownies, doughnuts, creamy/oily salad dressings, potato chips
  • Dairy: sour cream, ice cream, cottage cheese
  • Other Beverages: liquor, wine, coffee and tea

The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) also recommends the avoidance of peppermint and carbonated beverages.

Once you have focused on foods to eliminate, seek out food items known to be helpful when dealing with GERD. While no specific diet for GERD exists, IFFGD says that the practice of incorporating these more gut-friendly foods will help.

  • Fruits: non-citrus fruits such as melons, apples, bananas and pears
  • Eggs: a good source of protein. If irritation continues, only eat the whites of eggs, avoiding the higher fat yolks.
  • Lean meat: focus on meats that are grilled, poached, broiled or baked.
  • Complex carbs: oatmeal, whole grain bread, brown rice and couscous
  • Root vegetables
  • Healthy fats: seek out unsaturated fats from plants or fish. Monounsaturated fats includes oils like olive, sesame, canola and sunflower; avocados; peanut butter; nuts and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats include soybean, corn, walnut and flaxseed; tofu; fatty fish such as trout and salmon.

Looking for recipes that incorporate GERD-friendly food items while avoiding items found on the no-list?  Authors Jamie Koufman, MD, and Jordan Stern, MD, along with French master chef Marc Bauer have created some healthful recipes in their book “Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure.”  Below are two recipes from the book:

Instant Polenta With Sesame Seeds

¾ cup instant polenta or corn meal
3 cups whole milk
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp orange extract
½ tsp vanilla extract
Salt to taste
1 tbsp sesame seeds

1. Bring the milk to a boil.
2. Add the polenta or corn meal and whisk vigorously to prevent lumps.
3. Cook until creamy.
4. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla, and orange extract just before serving.
5. Serve in a bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Banana Ginger Energy Smoothie

½ cup ice
2 cups milk
2 bananas, ripe
1 cup yogurt
½ tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated fine
2 tbsp brown sugar or honey (optional)

1. In a blender, add the ice, milk, yogurt, bananas, and ginger.
2. Blend until smooth.
3. Add sugar as needed.