8 Foods to Avoid with Acid Reflux (GERD)

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Elizabeth Hanes, RN on August 5, 2021
  • burger-and-fries
    Steer clear of these GERD trigger foods.
    Taking antacid pills can help reduce gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms like heartburn, but a central step in managing your GERD symptoms is through diet. Start by evaluating what you eat and noting which foods act as acid reflux triggers for you. For instance, many people realize acidic foods like tomatoes rank high on the list of acid reflux foods to avoid, but they may not know that high-fat foods also can trigger symptoms. To make the process of identifying your acid reflux triggers easier, begin by perusing this list foods that commonly trigger GERD symptoms in most people.
  • Tomatoes in different colours
    Tomatoes may be great for heart health, but their high acid content causes them to trigger heartburn. To keep your acid reflux under control, avoid eating fresh tomatoes—and be aware that canned tomatoes, tomato juice, and other tomato products also rank high on the list of GERD foods to avoid. That said, you may find you can eat small quantities of different tomato products without giving yourself heartburn. Experiment with your tomato consumption to see if you can find your body’s tolerance level for them.
  • Cup of coffee
    If you rely on a large cup (or two) of coffee to jumpstart your day, your habit could be sparking GERD symptoms. Of course, coffee isn’t the only beverage that contains caffeine. To control your acid reflux disease, you also should avoid caffeinated teas, colas—and chocolate. As an alternative, try tapering off the caffeinated beverages in favor of decaffeinated varieties. And be sure to avoid those high-fat coffee concoctions at the local brewhouse. Frappuccinos, lattes and other mixed coffee beverages not only contain caffeine but additional fat that also can trigger GERD symptoms.
  • Soda pop
    Carbonated Beverages
    Even non-caffeinated sodas can trigger acid reflux symptoms like heartburn. Carbonation, on its own, can churn up stomach acids and leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth. If you feel despairing about giving up your soda pop habit, take heart. Sodas contribute no nutritional value to your body, so replacing them with non-carbonated drinks like flavored waters, decaffeinated teas, and other beverages will improve your overall nutrition and help you avoid heartburn at the same time.
  • homemade-ice-cream-in-bowl
    Full-Fat Dairy Products
    Milk used to be a common home remedy for heartburn, but today we know that full-fat dairy products like whole milk actually contribute to GERD symptoms. To manage your acid reflux, try to avoid full-fat or reduced-fat milk and go for fat-free skim milk instead. Ditto for cheeses, yogurt and cottage cheese; substitute low-fat versions for full-fat ones. You also can turn away from dairy altogether by trying soy milk or other non-dairy milk (such as almond, coconut, pea or oat milk), which many people with GERD find does not trigger symptoms.
  • bacon
    Bacon (and Other Fatty Foods)
    Many people with GERD may not realize that fatty foods trigger symptoms. Fried foods, like fast-food chicken nuggets, and items naturally high in fat can cause severe heartburn. You should avoid (or at least limit) bacon, lunch meats, butter, mayonnaise, sour cream, gravy, and deep-fried anything. Avocados also make this list, as do fatty salad dressings like blue cheese. Instead, opt for reduced-fat or fat-free versions of dressings when possible, and choose a healthful margarine in place of butter.
  • Overhead shot of citrus foots including grapefruit, orange and pomegranate
    Citrus Fruits
    Foods with a high acid content can trigger GERD symptoms, which is why you should limit consumption of citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines and grapefruit. You also should avoid eating pineapple, because it contains certain enzymes that might cause your acid reflux to flare up. Besides avoiding these fresh fruits, you also should refrain from consuming the canned or frozen variety or from drinking citrus juices. As an alternative, eat several helpings daily of non-citrus fruits like apples and grapes. These will deliver valuable nutrients and fiber without causing heartburn
  • Close-up of green peppermint leaves
    Spearmint and Peppermint
    Despite the refreshing zing they can add to foods and beverages, spearmint and peppermint can trigger your GERD symptoms. And eating mint in combination with any type of cream—such as mint chocolate candies—can be double trouble, since fat and chocolate also contribute to acid reflux. Read labels to make sure your herbal tea doesn’t contain mint, and generally avoid this flavoring when possible. Mint toothpaste should be OK, since you don’t swallow it.
  • hot pepper and garlic
    Garlic, Onions and Spicy Foods
    If Tex-Mex cuisine is your thing, prepare to put down the jalapeños and back away. Spicy foods, including onions and garlic, can generate serious heartburn. And it’s not only southwestern cuisine that can trigger your GERD. Spicy curries, peppery Asian foods, and any other dish that includes hot peppers, chiles, onions or garlic can promote acid reflux. If you don’t think you can entirely give up spicy foods, try eating them less frequently or in smaller quantities to see if you can find a level that satisfies your craving while not flaring up your stomach acid.
Acid Reflux or GERD Foods to Avoid | Acid Reflux Food Triggers
  1. GERD. U. S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/gerd.html
  2. Lifestyle Changes for the Treatment of GERD. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15530-lifestyle-guidelines-for-the-treatment-of-gerd
  3. Eating, Diet and Nutrition for GER and GERD. U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-adults/eating-diet-nutrition
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Last Review Date: 2021 Aug 5
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.