If you’ve been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, chances are, you’ll do anything to ease painful symptoms like heartburn. The good news? There are plenty of steps you can take to manage GERD.

That said, it’s important to work with your care team to develop the right GERD management plan for you. That may include a mix of diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medication. 

Step 1: Identifying Food Triggers

For starters, your care team will want to work with you to discover what types of things you can avoid to help you manage. A common trigger for GERD symptoms? Food choices. Certain foods are known to trigger GERD symptoms, such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Coffee
  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Garlic and onions
  • Peppermint
  • Spicy foods
  • Tomatoes

A good way to identify which foods trigger your GERD symptoms is to keep a food log, noting which foods you eat with each meal, and how you feel afterward. You can go over this log with your care team to decide which foods you should eliminate from your diet. 

Step 2: Setting Realistic Goals and Tracking Progress

Eliminating trigger foods from your diet can be tough. It’s important to be honest with your care team on what’s realistic for you. 

For example, if your care team wants to you eliminate coffee, but you drink three cups a day—a more realistic goal to start with would be to cut back to two cups a day, and to finish your second cup by mid-afternoon. 

You may spend a few weeks removing different foods and making adjustments to your diet, and tracking to see if there are any improvements in your GERD symptoms. 

Be sure you talk to your care team if you’re having trouble sticking with your food elimination goals. 

Step 3: Reintroduce Foods to Your Diet

Once you go through the elimination phase, the next step is to individually reintroduce foods to determine how each one specifically affects your GERD symptoms. You’ll want to do this in gradual increments. For example: 

  • Day 1: Eat a small amount of the food
  • Day 2: Eat twice the amount consumed on day 1
  • Day 3: Eat an even larger portion

Keep track in your food log how you feel when reintroducing each food back into your diet. If you don’t experience an increase in GERD symptoms, talk to your care team about adding that specific food back into your meal plan. If you do experience an increase in GERD symptoms, your care team might have you repeat the test, and then eliminate that food altogether if your symptoms don’t improve.

Working with Your Health Coach & Dietitian

Your registered dietitian & health coach are key members of your GERD care team. They’ll help you navigate this process of identifying food triggers, eliminating them, and reintroducing them back into your diet.