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Suffering from Heartburn or Acid Reflux

Posted by Elize Rumsley – RD, LD, CDE, MS, PhD. | Mar 18, 2024 3:19:27 PM

Suffering from Heartburn or Acid Reflux? Registered Dietician, Elize Rumley offers some tips to cool the fire.


Heartburn, also called acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) used to be known as a condition associated with the elderly, but, in recent years there has been a dramatic increase in younger people, especially between ages 30-39 years. It is estimated that 18-28% of the US population may suffer from GERD. This condition is characterized by regurgitation of stomach acid into your esophagus, resulting in uncomfortable symptoms such as bad taste in the mouth, burning sensation in the chest and throat, nausea, and vomiting. If not treated, this condition can increase the risk of esophageal cancer.


Diet plays a crucial role in the management of GERD. Certain foods and eating habits can exacerbate symptoms, while others can provide relief and improve the overall quality of life for individuals dealing with GERD.


Here are some tips to help manage GERD:

  • Avoid Trigger Foods: Certain foods can trigger or worsen GERD symptoms. Common culprits include mint, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, and acidic foods such as tomato products and citrus.
  • Eat Smaller, Frequent Meals: Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day can help reduce the pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter,[i] which is responsible for preventing acid reflux.
  • Limit Fatty Foods: Choose baked, broiled, or steamed options instead of deep fried or creamy foods. Eat lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, and beans as protein sources. Limit the amount of added butter and oil in your meals.
  • Avoid Eating Late Night: Try to make smaller dinner portions earlier in the evening and avoid snacking afterwards. This will give the stomach a chance to digest food before bed. Make sure to wait at least 2-3 hours before lying down.
  • Reduce alcohol Consumption: Alcohol induces damage of esophageal mucosa making the symptoms of GERD worse.

Other factors that can help alleviate GERD symptoms include weight loss, getting a good night’s sleep (elevating the head in bed helps), quitting tobacco products, and stress management. Utilizing your TAC membership to enjoy a stress-reducing yoga class or sauna session could help calm your nerves. If you suffer from this condition, talk with your doctor, and individualize your meal schedule and diet with a registered dietitian.


[i] A valve between the esophagus and the stomach.

Written by Elize Rumsley – RD, LD, CDE, MS, PhD.

Elize is registered and state licensed, has a BS in Human Nutrition and a MA and PhD in Nutrition Science.

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