Adhering to a special diet can greatly reduce many of the symptoms brought on by acid reflux. Since reflux tends to worsen after meals, it's important to avoid foods that can aggravate the condition. Such foods actually decrease the amount of pressure in the lower esophageal sphincter, which encourages the reflux.
It's recommended that people, who suffer from acid reflux, eat smaller meals throughout the day as opposed to three large ones and have their last meal a couple of hours prior to going to bed. According to Medicine.net, "Smaller and earlier evening meals may reduce the amount of reflux for two reasons. First, the smaller meal results in lesser distention of the stomach. Second, by bedtime, a smaller and earlier meal is more likely to have emptied from the stomach than is a larger one." This gives food enough time to be digested and vacate the stomach, and gives acid levels time to diminish ahead of the body being put in a position where reflux and heartburn are likely to transpire.
Diets that help decrease and prevent acid reflux typically include all of the basic food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, meats and beans (mypyramid.gov). However, within these food groups there are specific varieties that are recommended and those to be avoided. People with acid reflux should steer clear of alcohol, caffeinated drinks, peppermint, chocolate and foods that are high in fat content.
Grains, Vegetables and Fruits
Grains made with low fat content are the best to eat. This includes multi-grain, corn, rice or white bread, bran, rice and oatmeal cereals, rice cakes, unseasoned pretzels and graham crackers. Avoid tomatoes and vegetables that are prepared in a cream sauce or are fried (onions, potatoes). Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, fennel, green beans and peas are good choices. Apples, bananas, berries, melons, peaches and pairs are the best fruits to eat; citric fruits like grapefruits, oranges and pineapples can increase acid reflux and should be avoided.
Dairy and Meat
When it comes to milk and dairy products, stick to those that are skim, low fat or fat free (gicare.com). Feta or goat cheese and cheeses made from soy, rice or vegetables are a good idea. Avoid products that chocolate and whole milk, including dishes that are comprised of such ingredients (ice cream, cream sauces). Extra lean varieties of meat (or meat substitutes) are best. Replace bacon, cold cuts, sausage, fried meats (chicken nuggets, fish sticks), seasoned meats (chicken/buffalo wings, spare ribs) and marbled sirloin with low-fat meat like fish, skinless chicken breast, turkey, steak or London broil.
It's important to be aware of toppings, condiments, sauces and dressings as well, as they can be high in fat. Avoid using a lot of oil (especially animal and vegetable). When it comes to desserts, avoid those made with chocolate, oils and fats. Better alternative include ices, low fat yogurt, sorbet and other low or and fat free sweets and snacks; cookies; baked chips; pudding; jelly beans. Remember to stay away from beverages that are caffeinated or acidic and to stay hydrated with water. Foods with high fiber content are also essential and should be eaten regularly as they have a vital role within the body's overall digestive process and are instrumental in smoothly moving the contents of the intestines along.