Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a digestive disorder, and it occurs when stomach acid flows up into the esophagus. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn — a burning sensation in the chest after eating. Other symptoms may include trouble swallowing, regurgitating sour or bitter liquid into the mouth or throat, upper abdominal pain, and a sensation of a lump in the throat.

People with GERD often struggle to find snacks and foods that don’t trigger symptoms. While the search can seem futile, GERD-friendly snacks exist and are plentiful when you know how to look.

Top GERD-Friendly Snacks

Overeating or overindulging is one of the most common triggers of GERD symptoms. Still, snacking is not all bad. Some nutritionists argue that snacking is the key to managing hunger and maintaining a healthy diet, but the types of snacks matter. For example, patients with GERD should avoid overly-processed, high-fat snacks like french fries, onion rings, and potato chips. If you want a snack and have GERD, consider healthy, high-protein, and lean snacks like bananas, egg whites, carrots, and whole grains.

Sweet Treats

A GERD diagnosis does not mean you can have nothing sweet. You want to avoid foods with chocolate, peppermint, or spearmint (including flavoring). Skip the high-fat pastries, hard or cream-filled candies, and chewing gum — but that doesn’t eliminate all sweets.

When looking for GERD-friendly snacks, labels like nonfat or low-fat are your friends. Also, ingredients like honey, sugar, jam, syrup, or marshmallows are OK as a treat or part of a dish. If you have a sweet tooth, head to your local grocer and look for:

  • Angel food cake
  • Low-fat cookies
  • Nonfat or low-fat custard, frozen yogurt, ice cream, pudding, or sherbet
  • Gelatin made from permitted ingredients

Snacks With a Crunch

Potato chips are one of the most challenging snack foods to cut from your diet when you have GERD. The salty, crunchy snack is so delicious and so addictive, but because it is high in fat, it can worsen GERD symptoms. Also, high-salt foods can not only increase the likelihood of symptoms, but they can also raise your blood pressure. Still, they are delicious.

What will you do when you get that salty, crunchy craving for potato chips? A GERD-friendly alternative is oven-baked chips or vegetable chips. Oven-baked chips are not as high in fat and contain less salt. If you only want a satisfying crunch and don’t need the salty taste, you can choose apple slices or whole-grain crackers. Pairing apples with peanut butter or cheese can help manage acid reflux. Toasted bread and crackers are excellent options because they absorb excess stomach acid.

Treats To Calm Symptoms

GERD-friendly snacks that help calm or prevent symptoms include fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Melons are among the most beneficial fruits for GERD because they are low-acid. The best melon options are watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe.

For veggie lovers, try lettuce, celery, and sweet peppers. These veggies are relatively mild and easy on the stomach. Eating a mix of these veggies is unlikely to cause painful gas or indigestion.

Chicken breast is an excellent choice for a lean protein and something you might add to a small salad. You want to bake, broil, or grill the chicken rather than fry it, and be sure to remove the fatty skin.

Other snack options that can reduce GERD symptoms include brown rice, fennel, ginger, and oatmeal. Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate that is gentle on the stomach and filling, but don’t fry it. Fennel is a low-acid vegetable with a nice crunch and mild licorice flavor, and it has a natural soothing effect. Ginger is a tummy-tamer; you can serve it as a tea or chew on dried ginger as a snack. Finally, oatmeal is hearty, healthy, and mild on the stomach; it serves well as a snack or small meal.

Snacks To Accompany the Movies

It might surprise some people that popcorn is part of a GERD-friendly snacks list. However, movie theater popcorn is still likely a no-go snack because of its high fat and salt content. That said, there are plenty of low or nonfat seasonings for popcorn, allowing you to enjoy a bowl full of crunchy goodness on movie nights.

Still, don’t limit your movie night snacks to only popcorn. You might class things up with a charcuterie plate filled with bite-sized sweet and savory options like bell peppers, carrots, cheese, crackers or pretzels, and fruit. Remember to choose unseasoned pretzels or crackers. Another option is to incorporate themed snacks; for example, choose Mediterranean cuisine to accompany a “Mamma Mia” viewing party.

GERD and Lifestyle Changes

Having GERD can seem daunting, and preconceived notions may have you believing that your life will be absent of flavor, but that is not the case. True, you have to adjust your snack choices, but you can still enjoy popcorn while watching a movie or sweet melons while enjoying a beautiful summer day. Try to focus on what you can eat rather than what you can’t or shouldn’t.

Unlike other diseases, GERD is not a life sentence. You can cure the condition by quickly treating symptoms and committing to lifestyle changes. The main strategies for treating mild cases of GERD include:

  • Eating smaller meals
  • Limiting acidic, fatty, or spicy foods
  • Fasting at least two hours before bedtime

If you have moderate to severe GERD, you may need medications or surgery to find long-term relief. The professionals at Arizona Premier Surgery can walk you through available surgical options.

GERD-Friendly Snacks and Advice

GERD is a condition that affects one in five adults in the US. While the use of GERD-friendly snacks and lifestyle changes often resolves most symptoms, some cases of the disease are more severe and require medical intervention, which may include medications or surgery. Arizona Premier Surgery uses state-of-the-art procedures to perform anti-reflux surgery, including Robotic Nissen fundoplication and Robotic LINX placement. Each method is minimally invasive and aims to repair and strengthen the esophagus. Call our office or send us an email to learn more about our advanced procedures.