If you already have digestive issues, it can be doubly challenging to deal with another digestive condition like GERD too. GERD, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, can cause very uncomfortable indigestion and other symptoms that can put a damper on your day. Fortunately, like certain digestive issues, GERD symptoms can also be reduced and/or controlled with changes in your diet. Let’s learn a little more about GERD and how you can modify your low FODMAP diet to keep your symptoms at bay.
What is GERD?
GERD is a serious and long-lasting form of GER, or gastroesophageal reflux. This condition occurs when the contents of the stomach come back up into your esophagus. When this happens, the stomach acid can touch the lining of the esophagus can cause acid indigestion, or heartburn. A case of GER turns into a case of GERD when acid indigestion occurs equal to or more than twice a week for multiple weeks.
Who is at risk for GERD and what are the health effects?
You may be more at risk for developing GERD if you are:
- Overweight or obese
- Taking certain medicines
- A smoker or are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke
If GERD is not controlled, it can lead to serious conditions such as inflammation of the esophagus, or esophagitis, as well as narrowing of the esophagus and/or respiratory problems. These conditions, especially the narrowing of the esophagus, can greatly affect daily living activities such as eating.
What foods can trigger GERD symptoms?
Certain foods and drinks, such as those listed below, can trigger GERD symptoms.
- Fatty or greasy foods such as fried foods, skins of meats, creamy soups or sauces, as well as rich desserts or whole-fat dairy products like certain ice creams or yogurts.
- Spicy foods such as hot sauces and peppers.
- Acidic foods like tomato-based products and citrus fruits like oranges, pineapples, lemons, and limes.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Garlic and onions
Along with eating such foods, GERD symptoms can also be triggered if you eat too much at one sitting, wear tight clothes, eat before bedtime, and/or smoke. Therefore, try to eat smaller, balanced meals throughout the day, wear looser clothing, wait several hours after meals before lying down, and quit smoking if you can. Here are some resources to help you quit smoking, and in turn, help reduce your GERD symptoms.
Low FODMAP, GERD-friendly guidelines
If you’re following a low FODMAP diet and have GERD, here are some basic dietary guidelines to follow to help reduce your symptoms.
- Avoid flavoring foods with garlic and onions
- Eat low FODMAP and GERD-friendly fruits only like unripe bananas, strawberries, cantaloupe, dragon fruit, kiwi fruit, passionfruit, plantain, rhubarb, and starfruit.
- Stick to low acid vegetables like leafy greens such as spinach, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, carrots, green beans, cucumber, eggplant, salad greens, olives, okra, sweet potato, radishes, rutabagas, spaghetti squash, turnips, and yams.
- Limit any alcoholic beverages to one standard drink a day. A standard drink size is 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine, or 1.5 ounces liquor.
- Instead of caffeinated beverages, stick to caffeine free drinks like water and infused flavored water (such as with strawberries or cucumbers), and avoid carbonated beverages like colas, seltzer waters, and other carbonated drinks.
- Stick to a lower fat diet and use dry cooking methods like baking, grilling, and broiling instead of frying or sautéing.
- Keep foods mild in flavor, and instead flavor with herbs and low FODMAP safe spices like sea salt, all spice, black pepper, and saffron, to name a few.
Use the Monash University app to help you determine low FODMAP-safe serving sizes of the foods listed above.
Take home message
Living with digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease can be challenging enough. However, combine these issues with another digestive disorder like GERD and this can make for a very uncomfortable situation. Fortunately, small changes in diet can help control certain digestive issues such as GERD. For more information on the low FODMAP diet and how to start it, visit the Casa de Sante website.
-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD of LighttrackNutrition.com