People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms may fiind some relief by making certain diet changes, as well as implementing lifestyle changes. GERD symptoms like heartburn, difficulty swallowing and regurgitation could be helped by the lifestyle changes listed below.

1. Eating large meals. “Smaller portions are typically better tolerated than large meals,” says Krikhely. “Instead of having three traditional large meals, a better approach is to consume small frequent meals. These can consist of six individual small meals and snacks, or it can mean simply breaking meals into two parts.” And eating in a calm, relaxed environment can also help, adds Jamieson-Petonic, who advises against having meals in front of the TV, which can contribute to overeating.

2. Laying down after eating. “It’s better to stand or sit upright for one hour after meals have been eaten,” adds Krikhely. And it’s generally recommended to eat your last meal of the day three hours before going to bed. “It can also help to elevate the head of the bed—one way to accomplish this is to stick a foam wedge under the head of your mattress,” adds Krikhely. 

3. Smoking. Tobacco may stimulate stomach acid production and relax the LES, which can contribute to heartburn. What’s more, smoking also inhibits saliva production, which is your body’s main natural buffer against acid.

4. Being overweight. Excess weight gain—particularly around the waist— is known to contribute to GERD symptoms. If you’re overweight, weight loss can help improve those symptoms.

5. Doing certain exercises. Activities like situps, crunches, and even leg lifts can put pressure on your stomach and make your symptoms worse. It’s better to go for a walk, especially after eating, adds Krikhely.

6. Wearing tight-fitting clothing. Especially those that put pressure on your stomach—think tight pants, or even body shapers—can exacerbate symptoms. “Try switching to loose-fitted clothes,” adds Krikhely.

7. Taking certain medications. Things like aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications and certain pain medications can make GERD symptoms like heartburn worse, so be sure to talk to your doctor about any medications you’re taking. 

Your health coach and registered dietitian can help achieve these lifefstyle changes in order to find GERD symptom relief. If you’re having trouble implementing some of these changes, like quitting smoking, be sure to talk to your health coach. He or she can help you set up small goals to reach your larger health goals. Your care team members are here to help you, so make sure to keep them informed about your health wins and challenges.