Trouble sleeping, heartburn, nausea and coughing -- yup, it's safe to say that acid reflux is no fun! But the first defense against the symptoms of acid reflux is your lifestyle, and specifically the foods that make up your diet. While everyone has different acid reflux triggers -- and you'll need to adjust your diet to accommodate yours -- these foods may help ease your symptoms, especially if you eat them instead of common acid reflux triggers.
The first rule of eating for acid reflux is to get back to basics -- and that means focusing on plain water. Good ol' H2O helps dilute the acid in your stomach to suppress acid reflux flare-ups. Oh, and it's great for you overall, helping support everything from healthy brain function to detoxification. Sip flat water instead of the fizzy stuff, since carbonated drinks can worsen your symptoms.
If you need a bit more flavor with your water, try one of these ultra-refreshing combinations. Just omit the peppermint or ginger to make them acid reflux friendly.
Let's be honest -- if you're used to a cup of coffee or black tea every day, sipping plain water all the time just won't cut it. And while coffee and black tea both worsen acid reflux, which may make them a no-go in your diet, herbal teas generally help ease your symptoms. Pick a gentle blend, like rooibos, chamomile or fruit teas, and avoid mint teas.
Flex your culinary muscles by making your own tea using fresh herbs -- we've got your go-to guide right here!
Veggies, Veggies, Veggies!
Eating healthy may actually feel easier on an acid reflux diet since you can load up your plate with vegetables! While acidic tomatoes are off the table, and so are higher-fat fried vegetables (sorry, fries don't help!) the vast majority of veggies are acid reflux friendly. Spinach, mushrooms, squash, potatoes, eggplant — they're all on the table (literally and figuratively). Include a few of your faves at every meal, and try one of these delicious veggie-packed recipes to get you started.
Berries, Melons and Bananas
More good news: you can include lots of delicious fruit and keep your acid reflux in check! Berries, melons and bananas are your best bets for controlling acid reflux, since they're easy on your stomach and they're not acidic. Just avoid citrus fruits -- their high acid content may worsen your symptoms.
While saturated fat isn't really the nutritional pariah it once was, you should still avoid concentrated sources of fat if you have acid reflux -- and that includes full-fat dairy. Since fat is tough to digest, it increases your stomach acid levels, worsening your symptoms. Stick to skim milk, nonfat yogurt (try this guide to make Greek yogurt!). Opt for low-fat cheese and eat it in moderation to control your acid reflux.
Lean Fish and Poultry
Another common source of fat? Meat and fish. Control your acid reflux by opting for the leanest fish and poultry options possible: white fish (like tilapia and sole) and boneless, skinless turkey and chicken breast.
OK -- so you're probably not planning to drink broth on a regular basis (unless you're into the bone broth trend) but including broth in your cooking is one of the best ways to help acid reflux. Use a few tablespoons of broth in place of oil when you saute meat and veggies to keep your fat intake low, and cook grains (like rice) in broth to add flavor without the need for butter or oil. Go for classic low-sodium broth from the store, or get creative and make your own vegetable broth at home.
Other Diet Tips to Try
While filling your diet with these foods may help control your symptoms, there's more you can do to keep acid reflux in check.
- Eat several small meals throughout the day instead of filling up on three square meals a day -- especially right before bed, when you're most likely to experience symptoms.
- Avoid creamy and fried foods.
- Choose to bake, steam, roast or sauteed foods
-- cooking options that don't require adding oil.
- Keep your food mild, since adding lots of spice might trigger acid reflux.
- Steer clear of chewing gum or sucking hard candies between meals, as both can up your stomach acid production.
Need help controlling acid reflux? Don't hesitate to seek help from a doctor or nutritionist -- they can help analyze your diet to identify your individual triggers and help you avoid them.