Getting a case of acid reflux (heartburn) now and then isn’t unusual, but did you know that about 20% of the population suffers from a more persistent form? And women in menopause are more than 3 times as likely to suffer with heartburn.
The chronic form of acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. GERD occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube(esophagus) connecting your mouth and stomach, leading to symptoms like burning discomfort, bloating, and belching almost every time you eat.
But here’s some good news: the way you snack can help manage and ease these symptoms.
Is it OK to Snack with GERD?
Yes, it’s not only okay to snack when you have GERD, but it can also be quite beneficial, provided you choose acid reflux-friendly snacks. These snacks do more than just fill you up; they are instrumental in getting you through the day.
By choosing the right snacks, you can boost your energy levels, balance blood sugar, and provide your body with essential nutrients. This approach to snacking can be a game-changer in managing GERD because it helps in having smaller meals.
When your body receives a steady supply of the right nutrients throughout the day, you’re less likely to overeat during your main meals, which is a common trigger for GERD symptoms.
Can snacking make GERD worse?
Snacking can make GERD symptoms worse if you’re consuming foods that are known triggers for acid reflux. Acidic foods, those high in fat and certain spices can irritate the esophagus and increase stomach acid production. Eating too much or snacking too close to bedtime can also worsen GERD symptoms. The general recommendation is to avoid eating 2–3 hours before lying down.
What makes a good GERD-friendly snack?
A good GERD snack is one that not only minimizes acid reflux symptoms but also contributes to overall well-being. When you choose snacks that contain a balance of high-fiber carbohydrates and protein, you’re doing more than just easing your symptoms of GERD. These nutrients play a key role in maintaining steady blood sugar levels, which in turn ensures consistent energy throughout the day. This balance is crucial because fluctuations in blood sugar can not only affect your energy but also your digestion, potentially impacting GERD symptoms.
High-fiber foods are particularly beneficial as they help us to keep things moving along and that can help reduce the likelihood of acid reflux. Additionally, snacks that are low in acid and not overly spicy or fatty are ideal as they are less likely to irritate the esophagus.
List of GERD friendly snacks
- Apples with Peanut Butter: A sweet and savory combo. Apples are a low-acid fruit, and when paired with protein-rich peanut butter, it offers a satisfying, nutrient-packed snack.
- Low-Fat Cheese and Whole Grain Crackers: This snack provides a good balance of protein and fiber. Low-fat cheese is easier on the stomach compared to full-fat varieties, and whole grain crackers are a great source of digestible fiber.
- Trail Mix (without Chocolate): A mix of nuts and seeds provides healthy fats and protein. Opting for a version without chocolate makes it more GERD-friendly.
- Hard-Boiled Eggs: A great source of protein and easy to digest, making them an ideal snack for those with GERD. Just be sure to avoid adding spices that might trigger reflux.
- High-Protein Yogurt and Berries: Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is a great source of protein and berries add a touch of sweetness.
- Edamame Pods: These young soybeans are a great source of protein and fiber. They’re light on the stomach and can be a satisfying, nutrient-rich snack.
- Avocado Toast: Avocado is a great source of healthy fats and is typically well-tolerated by those with GERD. Spread it on whole grain toast for a fiber-rich, satisfying snack.
- Nutritional Yeast Popcorn: Popcorn is a whole grain and a good source of fiber. Sprinkling it with nutritional yeast adds a yummy cheesy flavor with a dose of protein. 2 Tbsps. provides 8 grams of protein.
- Blueberry and Banana Smoothie: Both blueberries and bananas are low in acid. Blending them into a smoothie makes for a refreshing, nutrient-rich snack.
- Pear and Cottage Cheese: Pears are low acid, high fiber fruit, making them a good choice for those with GERD. Pairing with cottage cheese adds protein and calcium to your snack, creating a satisfying, stomach-friendly combination.
- Turkey or Chicken Wrap: Use a whole wheat tortilla to make a wrap with lean turkey or chicken. These lean meats are low in fat and easy to digest, making them great protein sources for GERD sufferers. Add spinach or arugula for extra nutrients without added acidity.
Foods to avoid with GERD
When managing GERD, it’s important to be aware of foods that could worsen symptoms. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a ring of muscle at the junction of the esophagus and stomach. Its primary function is to act as a valve, preventing stomach contents, including acid, from flowing back up into the esophagus. Certain foods can relax or weaken the LES, increasing the likelihood of acid reflux.
Here are some common foods to limit or avoid:
- Citrus Fruits: Such as oranges and lemons, which are high in acid and can irritate the esophagus.
- Tomato-Based Products: Such as tomato sauce, tomato paste can increase stomach acid.
- Spicy Foods: These can irritate the lining of the esophagus.
- Fatty Foods: High-fat foods can delay stomach emptying, increasing the risk of reflux.
- Caffeine and Alcohol: Both can relax the LES, leading to an increased risk of acid reflux.
- Chocolate: Contains compounds like caffeine and theobromine, which can relax the LES.
- Mint: Often thought to aid digestion, mint can relax the LES and trigger GERD in some people.
Managing GERD doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice enjoying delicious and nutritious snacks. By choosing the right foods, you can effectively manage your symptoms while still indulging in tasty treats. The key is to listen to your body as everyone’s trigger foods are different. Using a food diary can be really helpful in narrowing down your own personal triggers.
If you want to make snack time much easier, it can be helpful to keep a list of heartburn-safe snacks (and the ingredients to make them) right in your kitchen.
Begin by incorporating some of these healthy options into your daily routine. Pay attention to how they make you feel and adjust accordingly.
Are you a woman navigating the complexities of midlife and looking to optimize your diet for this new chapter? You don’t have to figure it out alone. I offer personalized nutrition counseling tailored specifically for midlife women. Together, we can create a plan that meets your unique needs, supports your health goals, and fits seamlessly into your lifestyle. Contact me today to schedule a one-on-one consultation.