What to Eat For: Acid Reflux

Once I finally started taking my acid reflux seriously, I was overwhelmed at the list of foods NOT to eat. A morning without coffee? Passing on cocktails with friends? My favorite ice cream was mint chocolate chip and any I loved any dish drenched in marinara sauce. It was too much to fathom.

Adjusting what I ate would be difficult, but so many of my clients were able to do it which inspired me to commit to making a change. To avoid feeling deprived, I chose to focus on what I COULD eat. It certainly doesn’t help that dietary recommendations for acid reflux are called “bland”, but once I created a plan and eliminated those reflux-causing foods, I felt SO MUCH BETTER! Honestly, in as little as one week. This quick relief was highly motivating for me to stick with it and continue making progress.

While this was my experience, it is important to note that there is no one-diet-fits-all solution for acid reflux. Each person has their own unique digestive tract and heartburn triggers. I highly recommend tracking your food and symptoms for a several weeks to find out what is impacting your heartburn and being the process of healing.

Common Foods & Drinks that Cause Acid Reflux

These foods are NOT recommended to eat for acid reflux. You may be able to tolerate small amounts of these foods, or having just one or two of these foods daily, but when combined they can increase your risk of heartburn:

Most Common Causes

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus & citrus juices (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit)
  • Coffee
  • High fat foods in excessive amounts like fried foods, greasy/oily meals, fatty cuts of meat, oils, cheeses, avocado, nuts & nut butters)
  • Mint (peppermint, spearmint)
  • Peppers (black, red)
  • Spicy foods
  • Tomatoes & tomato-based foods

Other Potential Triggers

  • Beverages at hot temperatures
  • Garlic
  • Gluten
  • Highly acidic foods, pH <5.0
  • Onions
  • Lactose, the natural sugar in milk

Click here to read more about not only foods, but also medical conditions, medications, and lifestyle factors that may be contributing to your acid reflux.

Foods That Help Acid Reflux

Doctors Jamie Koufman, Marc Bauer, and Jordan Stern (authors of Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure) have helped many of their patients cure various forms of chronic acid reflux by limiting their intake of highly acidic foods with a pH greater than 5.0.

Less acid is less likely to activate pepsin that may be caught in the throat and esophagus from frequent reflux. Regurgitation all the way to the throat can result in laryngopharyngeal reflux or LPR. One study of 20 people with LPR avoided foods with a pH level less than 5.0, improving symptoms in 19 of those patients. 3 of the participants had complete resolution of symptoms.

Not sure the pH of foods? Continue reading for more info!

Low Acid Fruits & Vegetables for Acid Reflux


Lean Proteins for Acid Reflux

Fat sits in the stomach longer than carbohydrates of protein, so fatty cuts of meat are not recommended. Avoid fried meats and aim for leaner protein sources such as:

  • Eggs Whites
  • Fish & Shellfish
  • Beef
    • Eye round roast & steak
    • Sirloin tip side steak
    • Top round roast & steak
    • Bottom round roast & steak
    • Top sirloin steak
  • Poultry
    • Chicken breast
    • Turkey breast
  • Low-Fat Dairy Products (cheese, yogurt, milk)
  • Plant Proteins:
    • Beans
    • Peas
    • Lentils
    • Soy – tofu, edamame, tempeh

Gluten-Free Grains for Acid Reflux

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten does not cause acid reflux for everyone, but may worsen acid reflux for individuals with celiac disease or wheat intolerance.

Gluten-Free Grains:

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Rice, brown rice, wild rice
  • Sorghum
  • Teff

Need ideas of how to eat these grains?
Check out my Gluten Free Pinterest board for recipes!

If you have not found that gluten-containing products impacts your acid reflux, these other whole grain glutenous options are great:

  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Farro/Emmer
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Wheat groats

Lactose-Free Options for Acid Reflux

Dairy is another source of potential heartburn for individuals who cannot break down the natural sugar (lactose) found in cow’s milk. Full-fat dairy products may also trigger heart burn. Opt for 2% or fat-free milk, but if you notice that it contributes to your discomfort, try lactose-free milk or one of these plant based milk alternatives:

  • Almond milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Oat milk
  • Rice Milk
  • Soy milk

Beverages for Acid Reflux

  • Water
  • White or jasmine tea
  • Decaf herbal tea such as chamomile or ginger
  • Low-fat or fat-free milk (if tolerated)

Spices for Acid Reflux Diet

Too much spice and peppers should be avoided. Ginger and cinnamon MAY cause heartburn in some individuals. Add flavor to a bland diet with herbs like basil, cilantro, dill, cardamon, lemongrass, oregano, parsley, rosemary, salt & tarragon.


Published 7/20/2020, updated 9/21/2021

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