Top 10 Foods To Avoid If You Have Acid Reflux (GERD)

Top 10 foods to avoid if you have acid reflux

Avoid These Foods If You Have Acid Reflux

By Adam Carmen

This is one of the most common questions for people that are new to Acid Reflux (GERD). What foods should I avoid if I have Acid Reflux?

While there are a bunch of obvious foods you should not eat if you have Acid Reflux, ultimately every person is different and each will tolerate different foods. You may also find that eating a particular food on an empty stomach, vs eating the same food with a full meal will be tolerated differently. This is by no means and exhaustive list and depending on whether you have low acid or high acid; this list would be different for you.


Most people think it’s the acidic nature of coffee that produces the acid reflux symptoms. It’s actually the caffeine. Caffeine relaxes your LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter) which is the valve the keeps the contents of your stomach from traveling up your esophagus. Once this relaxes or if yours is faulty already, this is when symptoms occur. If you must have coffee, try decaf. You can also try espresso. Some people say that the lower caffeine content and the crème’ that sits on top somehow agitates them less.


Alcohol is believed to also relax the Lower Esophageal Sphincter. While most alcoholic drinks are not acidic, they relax the LES and just like with caffeine allow the contents of your stomach to travel up your esophagus.

Really Spicy Foods

This is actually very dependent on the person. Some people with reflux have no problem with spicy foods. Yet other with reflux get full symptoms with a little bit of hot sauce. This one is more trial and error, depending on your tolerance


Milk Chocolate has both caffeine and high fat content. This makes it a double whammy. If you are in need of a real chocolate fix you can try really high percentage dark chocolate, like 85%. You are also more likely to tolerate this after a full meal.

Tomatoes or foods that are mostly tomatoes (Red Sauce, Marinara Sauce)

Tomatoes are naturally high in acid. While delicious and generally good for you. They are high on the list of things that most people find trigger reflux.

High Fat Meats

Cuts of meat with lots of fat, like Ribs for example, often cause reflux symptoms. Not only does the fat contribute, but the meat and fat combination take longer to digest in your stomach which has a “backing up effect” just like when your plumbing in your house is clogged. Nowhere to go but up!

Really Large Meals (skip the all you can eat buffet!)

Just eating way too much food can cause acid reflux symptoms. When your stomach is really full, it takes longer to digest and can generally cause the “back up”. Try eating smaller more frequent meals. Or if you just over did it and now you’re stuck. Try going for a walk or taking a digestive enzyme to help speed up digestion.

Greasy Foods (anything fried)

This is where many people first realize they have a problem. They get done with a big meal of deep fried (anything) and all of a sudden start having that “heartburn” feeling. This is because of the high fat content in deep fried food.

Raw Onions and Garlic

Raw onions tend to be very acidic and are a common trigger food for people with Acid Reflux. Some people say Garlic too. But again this one is very specific to the individual. If you are not sure, do your own little test. If it “hits your hard” put it on the naughty list!

Carbonated Drinks

The carbonation is the issue. The bubbles expand in your stomach and can product reflux symptoms. If your carbonated beverage also has caffeine it’s another double whammy.

While this is by no means and exhaustive list, it’s a good place to start. Also you may find that your tolerance for these food items are different based on time of day and how full or empty your stomach is.

For example if you have a full dinner than have an espresso and a small piece of dark chocolate after, you might be totally fine.

But an espresso and a small piece of dark chocolate on an empty stomach could really put you in a world of hurt!

If you are still figuring out what foods to eat and what foods not to eat on your acid reflux journey, try keeping a food log and the results of how you feel after everything you eat.

Good luck!

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