Foods to Avoid If You Have Reflux

May 01, 2023
Foods to Avoid If You Have Reflux
Constant heartburn from acid reflux makes you uncomfortable and damages your esophagus. Learn about how food may affect your reflux and what changes you can make to reduce your discomfort.

Many people experience indigestion after eating a large meal, causing a burning sensation in the chest from acid reflux. But if you have indigestion regularly, you may have a more chronic health condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

At Transform Bariatrics in Greenbelt, Rockville, and Silver Spring, Maryland, our general surgeon, Dr. Hitesh P. Amin, offers reflux surgery to help those with ongoing GERD symptoms. But before moving ahead with surgery, we recommend implementing lifestyle changes to reduce the reflux.

You may notice that eating certain foods worsens your indigestion. Here, we want to talk about acid reflux and how what you eat may make it worse.

About acid reflux

Acid reflux occurs when the stomach's acidic juices flow into your esophagus. Normally, a strong muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) blocks the stomach's acidic contents from accessing the esophagus.

When you eat, the LES relaxes, allowing food to pass from the esophagus to the stomach. Then, the LES quickly closes. If you're experiencing acid reflux, the LES is either too weak to close or relaxes when it shouldn't fully.

Obesity and smoking seem to affect the function of the LES, increasing the frequency of reflux. Certain medications may also cause the muscle to relax, such as medications to treat high blood pressure and asthma. 

What you eat may also worsen your symptoms.

Foods to avoid with reflux

Certain foods cause the LES to relax or delay the digestive process, so the food sits in the stomach longer. Avoiding these foods may reduce the frequency of your indigestion. 

The following is a list of foods you may want to limit if you have acid reflux:

  • Foods high in fat (fried foods, bacon, sausage, and cheese)
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee, cola, and other sources of caffeine
  • Spicy foods
  • Acidic foods (tomatoes, citrus, and vinegar)
  • Peppermint

Though these foods may contribute to your symptoms, we know how hard it is to resist your favorite foods like pizza and french fries. When you indulge in foods that may worsen your acid reflux, keep your portions small, drink before or after, and don't eat too close to bedtime.

Treatments for reflux

Lifestyle is always the first treatment for acid reflux and GERD. This includes changing your diet, like limiting your intake of the foods that worsen your symptoms, eating smaller meals, drinking in between meals, and not eating before bed.

If you're overweight or obese, weight loss may also improve your symptoms. In addition to weight loss surgery, we also offer medical weight loss to help those struggling to reach their goal weight on their own. Medications that reduce stomach acid are also part of the medical treatment for acid reflux and GERD.

However, when medical interventions fail to provide relief, reflux surgery is an option. When left untreated, the constant acid reflux may damage the esophagus, causing other problems like esophagitis or esophageal strictures. GERD also puts you at risk of esophageal cancer.

Reflux surgery is minimally invasive, and results are long-lasting.

Diet modifications are the first recommended treatment for reflux, and avoiding certain foods may help you get relief. But we can discuss other options if diet and medications aren't working. Call or request an appointment online today at the office nearest you.