GERD is short for gastroesophageal (GAS-trow-ee-soff-uh-GEE-ol) reflux disease.\nWhen we eat, food passes from the throat and into the stomach through a tube. This tube is the esophagus (ee-SOFF-uh-gus). Sometimes it\u2019s called the food pipe.\nAt the bottom is a ring of muscles that acts as a valve between the esophagus and stomach. This is the lower esophageal (ee-soff-uh-GEE-ol) sphincter (ss-FINK-ter).\nThese muscles in the lower esophagus can become weak. Food, smoking, and alcohol may weaken the sphincter, so it may stop closing properly.\nThe contents in the stomach then may leak back, or \u201creflux,\u201d into the esophagus. We call this problem \u201cGERD.\u201d\nGERD Signs and Symptoms\nHeartburn is the most common symptom of GERD.\nWhen acid in the stomach refluxes, it touches the lining of the esophagus. This can cause a burning feeling in your chest or throat. We call this sensation heartburn or acid indigestion.\nYou can have heartburn once in a while without having GERD. But if you have heartburn more than twice a week, it\u2019s likely you have GERD.\nIf you don\u2019t have heartburn, you can still have GERD.\nSuggested Diet for GERD\nFind foods and drinks to choose and to avoid, as well as a sample menu, to help relieve or prevent GERD.\nAlong with the foods to avoid below, very hot or very cold food can increase reflux.\nBeverages\n\n\n\nChoose\nAvoid\n\n\n\n\nSkim or 1% milk.\nDecaf, non-mint, and herbal teas.\nJuices, except those to avoid.\nSoft drink mixes, such as Crystal Lite.\nCaffeine- free beverages.\n\n\n\n\nWhole, 2%, and chocolate milk.\nAlcohol.\nRegular or decaf coffee.\nTea that has caffeine.\nMint tea.\nSoda, pop, or carbonated beverages.\nCitrus juices and drinks such as orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and pineapple.\n\n\n\n\n\nBreads and grains\n\n\n\nChoose\nAvoid\n\n\n\n\nAll breads and grains prepared with low-fat content.\n\n\n\n\nAny prepared with whole milk or high-fat content, such as sweet rolls, muffins, biscuits, and croissants.\n\n\n\n\n\nVegetables\n\n\n\nChoose\nAvoid\n\n\n\n\nAll vegetables, except those to avoid.\n\n\n\n\nFried or cream-style vegetables.\nTomatoes and tomato sauce.\n\n\n\n\n\nFruits\n\n\n\nChoose\nAvoid\n\n\n\n\nAny fresh, canned, or cooked fruits, except those to avoid.\n\n\n\n\nCitrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, and pineapples.\n\n\n\n\n\nSoups and seasonings\n\n\n\nChoose\nAvoid\n\n\n\n\nAll herbs and spices, except those to avoid.\nFat-free broths.\nHomemade soups with lean meat, allowed vegetables (no tomatoes), and skim milk.\n\n\n\n\nCream, cheese, or tomato-based soups.\nHerbs and spices found in tomato sauces such as basil, oregano, and garlic.\nChili and jalapeno peppers.\nVinegar.\n\n\n\n\n\nMeats and substitutes\n\n\n\nChoose\nAvoid\n\n\n\n\nBaked, boiled, or broiled beef, pork, lamb, veal, skinless poultry, or fish.\nLow-fat lunchmeats.\nCooked dried beans and peas.\nPeanut butter, if tolerated.\nEggs.\nLow-fat cheeses.\n\n\n\n\nFatty or fried beef, pork, lamb, veal, poultry, and fish.\nFried eggs.\nBacon.\nSausage, hot dogs.\nPepperoni.\nFatty lunchmeats.\n\n\n\n\n\nFats and oils: Limit to 3 servings per day\n\n\n\nChoose\nAvoid\n\n\n\n\nButter and margarine.\nVegetable oils.\nMayonnaise.\nMildly seasoned salad dressings.\nPlain cream cheese.\n\n\n\n\nFried foods.\nCream sauces and gravies.\nHighly seasoned salad dressings.\nBacon fat, ham fat, lard, and salt pork.\nNuts.\n\n\n\n\n\nSweets and desserts\n\n\n\nChoose\nAvoid\n\n\n\n\nSugar, honey, jelly, jam, syrup, marshmallows.\nAngel food cake.\nNon-fat or low-fat pudding, custard, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet.\nLow-fat cookies.\nGelatin made from allowed foods.\n\n\n\n\nSweets and desserts with chocolate, peppermint, or spearmint (including flavoring).\nHigh-fat pastries.\nNuts.\nHard or cream-filled candy.\nChewing gum.\n\n\n\n\n\nSample Menu for People with GERD\n\n\n\nBreakfast\n\n\n3\/4 cup cereal\n1 cup skim or 1% milk\n1 egg, poached\n1 slice toast or bread\n1 teaspoon margarine\nCaffeine-free drink\n\n\n\n\nMid-Morning Snack\n\n\n1\/2 cup canned fruit (non-citrus) or 1 small, fresh fruit (non-citrus)\n\n\n\n\nLunch\n\n\n3 oz. chicken\n1\/2 cup rice\n1\/2 cup spinach\n1 teaspoon margarine\n1\/2 cup fruit juice (non-citrus)\n\n\n\n\nMid-Afternoon Snack\n\n\n5 saltine crackers\n1\/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese\n\n\n\n\nDinner\n\n\n3 oz. baked fish\n1 medium potato\n1\/2 cup carrots\n1 teaspoon margarine\n1 cup skim or 1% milk\nWater\n\n\n\n\n\nLearn more about GERD treatment at UPMC’s Esophageal and Lung Surgery Institute.