Getting Started With the Acid Reflux Diet

Cropped view of table laid with fresh homemade vegetarian food.
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On the acid reflux diet, you’ll focus on minimizing and hopefully eliminating symptoms of acid reflux by identifying trigger foods through an elimination phase. For many people, trigger foods include high-fat and high-cholesterol foods, acidic and spicy foods, dairy, coffee, chocolate, and citrus fruits. Everyone has different responses to different foods, though. 

After you identify your triggers, you can actively avoid them and replace them with healthy options that don’t induce symptoms. Many people with acid reflux find success by eating lots of vegetables and non-citrus fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins. With the tips in this article, you can find success, too. 

Your Calorie and Nutrition Goals

You’ve probably noticed that most nutrition facts labels use 2,000 calories as an estimation of calorie needs for the general population. They also base the percentage of the recommended intake for certain nutrients off of a 2,000 calorie diet. While 2,000 is a good general estimate, everyone’s calorie needs vary depending on a variety of factors, including: 

  • Age
  • Biological sex
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Body composition
  • Activity level
  • Medical conditions

The acid reflux diet doesn’t require you to adhere to a specific caloric intake; rather, you’ll focus on avoiding trigger foods and replacing them with healthy options. To find out how many calories you need each day, use our online calorie calculator. 

Hydration Tips

The old adage when it comes to water intake is “eight glasses a day.” But how big are those glasses? Ice or no ice? So many questions. 

The truth is, there’s no “best” number of ounces you should drink each day, just like there’s no “best” number of calories you should eat each day. Instead, hydration is pretty subjective and depends heavily on your body size and activity level — and your own body will tell you when you need to drink more water

As for actual beverage choices, plain water is usually the best choice when it comes to hydration, but it can definitely get boring. You may feel tempted to reach for a cup of coffee, soda, or juice, but you won’t want to on the acid reflux diet: Caffeine, carbonation, and acidity are key triggers of acid reflux symptoms. 

If you’re having trouble staying hydrated, try flavoring your water with frozen berries, sliced cucumbers, or powdered water flavorings. Hot teas are also a great way to consume more water but you'll want to avoid lemon and mint varieties on the acid reflux diet. 

Grocery Staples

Veggies, veggies, and more veggies. Produce will be the base of your diet when trying to minimize acid reflux symptoms, with moderate portions of lean proteins, non-citrus fruits, and whole grains. You’ll stay away from fatty, spicy, and acidic foods. 

Vegetables: Stock up on leafy greens, root vegetables (sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, etc.), and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower).

Fruits: Bananas, pears, apples, coconut, plums, honeydew melon, apricots. 

Grains: Choose whole grains like quinoa, bulgur, amaranth, and rolled oats. 

Protein: Stick to lean proteins without skin, such as skinless chicken breasts and 90 percent lean ground turkey.

If you’re worried about your meals lacking flavor on the acid reflux diet, expand your horizons when it comes to herbs and spices. Try these flavorful alternatives to spices like cayenne and red pepper that won’t cause an upset in your stomach:

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Oregano

Chances are, you already have some compliant and non-compliant foods at home. If you’re unsure about whether an item is compliant, check the label for non-compliant ingredients and nutrition facts. If it’s very high in fat, sodium, or caffeine, it’s probably not compliant. Compliant items will be minimally processed and free of ingredients on the non-compliant list

Other tips:

Shop the Frozen Section. Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh ones, and they keep for longer. Frozen produce is usually also less expensive than fresh produce. 

Buy Grains in Bulk. You can save a good bit of money by purchasing slow-perishing items in bulk, including rice, oats, and other grains. 

Buy Meat When It’s on Sale and Freeze it. Catching a great deal on proteins is exciting! If you see a two-for-one deal at your grocery store, stock up and freeze what you won’t use in the next couple of days. 

Recipe Ideas

When getting started on a new diet, you may be overwhelmed or stressed about recipe ideas. On the acid reflux diet, that shouldn’t be the case, as you’re allowed to eat a variety of satisfying and nutritious foods. Try out these recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time. 

Breakfast

Lunch and Dinner

Snacks

Dessert

Cooking and Meal Planning

Thankfully, you won’t need any special equipment or fancy tools to cook up delicious, nutritious meals on the acid reflux diet. These few tips can take you a long way:

Meal Plan

You can save yourself a lot of time, effort, and money if you go to the grocery store with a plan in mind. Before you head out, decide what you want to eat for that week, make a list, and stick to it at the store. 

And then meal prep...

After you’ve planned your menu and purchased your items, it’s time to cook. The acid reflux diet emphasizes plenty of foods that can be prepared ahead of time and reheated on the stove or in the microwave, so you don’t have to worry about meals sucking up a bunch of your time. Most vegetables, whole grains, and proteins will stay fresh in the fridge for three to five days.

Use What You Have on Hand

If you feel like you’re in a pinch for ingredients, you might not actually be. The acid reflux diet isn’t necessarily restrictive, so chances are you can whip up a tasty meal even when you feel like your pantry is getting bare. Think simple, like Italian-seasoned rice or rolled oats with mashed bananas. 

A Word From Verywell

Choosing a diet is a big personal decision that requires a great deal of contemplation over your health goals. The acid reflux diet focuses on easing symptoms of a particular health condition, and might not be best suited to people who don’t have acid reflux. However, it’s a healthy and balanced diet overall, and doesn’t present any dangers for the general population. If you do have acid reflux, this diet may help and even lead to some secondary benefits, like weight loss and healthier long-term eating habits. 

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