This diet is used to help reduce discomfort in the esophagus caused by Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Symptoms such as heartburn, and chest discomfort and a bitter taste in the mouth often occur, due to acid washing up from the stomach. Coughing, hoarseness, or shortness of breath can occur if the fluid washes into the breathing passages. You can find more information about GERD in the Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease page.

The esophagus is a tube that connects the throat and the stomach. At the bottom of the esophagus, there is a valve that usually prevents acid from washing up from the stomach. A muscle keeps usually the valve tightly closed. 

Some foods cause the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus to relax. Other foods cause the stomach to create more acid. This diet is designed to avoid these foods. Choose your foods according to the ChooseMyPlate website to meet your needs. 

Treatment may include medications, but the following guidelines should be followed: 

GERD Diet – General Guidelines

  • Stop smoking and chewing tobacco.
  • Discuss your weight with your doctor. Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Do not overeat. Eat small portions at meals and snacks.
  • Avoid tight clothing, tight-fitting belts. Do not lie down or bend over within the first 15-30 minutes after eating.
  • Do not chew gum or suck on hard candy. Swallowing air with chewing gum and sucking on hard candy can cause belching and reflux.
  • Use bricks or wood blocks to raise the head of your bed 6-8 inches.
  • Do not eat/drink: Chocolate, tomatoes, tomato sauces, oranges, pineapple and grapefruit, mint, coffee, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and black pepper.
  • Eat a low-fat diet. Fatty, greasy foods cause your stomach to produce more acid.

Clear Liquids Diet Options

Fruits/Juices

Choose these items
Most fruits and fruit juices such as apple, grape, cranberry, banana, pears, etc.

Avoid these items
Citrus fruits: oranges, grapefruit

Soups

Choose these items
Low-fat and fat-free soups such as clear broth based soups*.

Avoid these items
Regular cream soups, other high fat soups*.

Beverages

Choose these items
Decaffeinated tea, herbal tea (not mint), Kool-Aid®, soda, water, juices (except orange, grapefruit and pineapple).

Avoid these items
Coffee (regular and decaffeinated), alcohol, carbonated beverages.

Sweets/Desserts

Choose these items
Fruit ices, gelatin, popsicles, ice milks and frozen low-fat yogurt, low fat cookies and cakes (less than 3 g fat per serving).

Avoid these items
Chocolate and high fat deserts.

Vegetables

Choose these items
All steamed, roasted, stir-fried (with little oil) vegetables.

Avoid these items
Fried, creamed vegetables.

Milk/Dairy Products

Choose these items
Skim or 1% milk, lowfat yogurt, or cheeses (<3 g fat per oz).

Avoid these items
Whole and 2% milk, whole milk yogurt and cheeses. Chocolate milk and hot chocolate.

Bread/Cereals/Grain Products

Choose these items
Low-fat

Avoid these items
Made with whole milk or cream.

Meat, Chicken, Fish, and meat substitutes (nuts, tofu, etc.)

Choose these items
Low-fat meats with the fat trimmed before cooking, skinless poultry. Baked, broiled, poached, roasted, without added fat.

Avoid these items
Sausage, bacon, fried meats and chicken, salami, bologna and other high fat meats (> 3 g per ounce). Chicken skin and meats with visible fat left on.

Oils/Butter/Margarine)

Choose these items
None, or small amounts.

Avoid these items
Animal or vegetable fats.

* Fat can be skimmed from the top of soups and stews when they are hot or cold.

Credits for this dietary information go to Maureen Murtaugh, PhD.