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Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the chronic form of acid reflux. Those who suffer from GERD can experience a decrease in their quality of life due to recurring bouts of acid reflux. Acid reflux can lead to symptoms such as heartburn, chest pain, coughing, and more. Additionally, repeated exposure to acidic stomach contents can damage the esophagus and lead to further health problems over time.

While a GERD attack can strike at almost any time, it’s more common in some instances as opposed to others. For example, many people who suffer from GERD experience acid reflux directly after eating. While it may feel like there’s nothing you can do when experiencing a GERD attack, there are several steps you can take to reduce symptoms.

In this article, we discuss the best foods to eat when having a GERD attack. In addition to explaining what you should avoid eating with GERD, we’ll share various foods to eat when you have GERD. To learn more about what to eat when having a GERD attack, read this article from start to finish. Or, you can use the links below to jump to any section in the article.

What Is GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition where one experiences chronic, and oftentimes unusually severe, acid reflux. The difference between acid reflux and GERD is that GERD is a more serious iteration of acid reflux. It’s generally caused by an issue with one’s lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is a ring of muscles that separates the stomach from the esophagus.

A normally functioning LES relaxes to let food pass from your esophagus into your stomach and closes in order to prevent stomach contents from surging back up. However, if there’s an issue with your LES, it may not close properly or as tightly as it should. This can lead to stomach acid escaping from the stomach and seeping into the esophagus.

The esophageal lining isn’t equipped to handle acidic contents the same way as your stomach lining. Thus, when too much stomach acid enters the esophagus, it can be what causes heartburn, discomfort, and chest pain. Those who experience acid reflux or heartburn on a frequent basis—typically at least twice a week or more—may have GERD.

GERD symptoms graphic

In order to understand whether you may have GERD, you must be familiar with the symptoms it causes. Common symptoms of GERD include:

  • Heartburn
  • Pain in the middle of the chest
  • Coughing
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food or stomach acid
  • A sour or bitter taste at the back of the throat

For a definitive diagnosis of GERD, you should consult with your doctor. A doctor can assess your symptoms and run tests in order to reach a diagnosis of GERD. Your doctor will also be able to explain available treatment options and recommend a treatment strategy based on your condition.

Foods to Eat When Having a GERD Attack

Certain foods can soothe and reduce the acidity of your stomach. If you’re experiencing a GERD attack, consuming the following foods or drinks may be able to improve your condition and help you feel better in the short-term:

Food to eat when having a GERD attack

  • Low-fat milk or yogurt: While foods that are high in fat tend to trigger acid reflux, nonfat milk or low-fat yogurt can actually protect your esophageal lining from surging stomach acid.
  • Ginger: Ginger is an alkaline ingredient with anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a great digestive aid.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Pure apple cider vinegar is very acidic, but a small amount mixed with water can potentially soothe symptoms of acid reflux.
  • Warm lemon water: A cup of warm water mixed with a little lemon juice and honey makes for a good blend of alkaline components and antioxidants, which can help ease your acid reflux.

Foods That Prevent GERD

Making dietary changes often proves to be one of the most effective ways to manage GERD symptoms and prevent heartburn and acid reflux. There are several types of foods that are easy on your stomach and can help limit episodes of acid reflux. So, if you’re looking for foods to eat when you have GERD, make sure to take note of the list below:

  • High fiber foods: Foods that are high in fiber are filling and can help you avoid overeating. Examples of high-fiber foods include whole grains, root vegetables, and green vegetables.
  • Alkaline foods: Alkaline foods have a high pH level, meaning they’re less acidic. Foods that are less acidic aren’t as likely to cause acid reflux. Examples of alkaline foods include nuts, melons, bananas, and cauliflower.
  • Water-rich foods: Watery foods can make your stomach acid less potent, thereby reducing irritation if it seeps into your esophagus. Examples of water-rich foods include celery, lettuce, watermelon, broth, and cucumber.

Foods to Avoid When Having a GERD Attack

While some foods have properties that can prevent symptoms of GERD, other foods can be acid reflux triggers. If you’re having a GERD attack or want to minimize your acid reflux symptoms, consider avoiding the following foods and beverages:

  • High-fat and fried foods
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomato-based products
  • Chocolate
  • Onions
  • Peppermint
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

Dietary triggers infographic

Limiting your consumption of the above foods or cutting them out of your diet altogether can help ease the symptoms of acid reflux. It’s also important to note that lying down after consuming any of the above food or beverages can increase your risk of experiencing acid reflux symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I eat during a GERD flare-up?

There are several foods you can eat during a GERD flare-up that can help ease your symptoms and provide relief. Items such as low-fat yogurt and small doses of ginger can battle the symptoms of GERD and relieve some of your discomfort.

What can I drink during a GERD attack?

If you’re experiencing a GERD attack, you might try drinking nonfat milk, ginger tea, or warm lemon water with honey. All of these beverages contain properties that can soothe your stomach and make you feel better during a GERD attack.

How do you stop a GERD attack fast?

While there’s no surefire way to immediately put an end to a GERD attack, there are steps you can take to minimize symptoms and make the episode pass by more quickly. For instance, you can stand or sit upright so that gravity is able to return the stomach acid in your esophagus to your stomach. Antacid medication can also quickly provide relief for symptoms of GERD. Consult with your doctor before taking any medication.

How long does a GERD attack last?

The duration of a GERD attack varies. In some cases, a GERD attack may last only a few minutes, while in other instances, the attack can last for up to two hours. Symptoms are often most severe directly after eating or can be triggered as a result of lying down or bending over.

Wrapping Up

If you suffer from GERD, you understand how unpleasant the symptoms can be. GERD attacks can get in the way of your day-to-day life and prevent you from doing the things you want to do. You may even experience GERD attacks at night that interfere with the duration and quality of your sleep.

If you’re looking for relief from the symptoms of GERD, we suggest that you take a look at MedCline’s Reflux Relief System. Our Reflux Relief System is a specialized pillow that keeps you on your left side at an incline, which is the ideal sleeping position to prevent episodes of nighttime acid reflux. This system offers natural relief and top-notch comfort, which is why 95% of MedCline users report better sleep. To learn more about our Reflux Relief System, chat with one of our Sleep Specialists today.