10 Cooking Changes You Can Make to Fight Acid Reflux - dummies

10 Cooking Changes You Can Make to Fight Acid Reflux

By Patricia Raymond, Michelle Beaver

Following a reflux-friendly diet isn’t draconian or iron clad. It involves looking at foods and habits in new ways and making substitutions when necessary. The ten tips here will make the changes easier, and before you know it you’ll be following these guidelines without even thinking about them.


Sometimes, frying food makes it the most delicious it can be. But frying also tends to make food the fattiest it can be. Excess fat is terrible for reflux sufferers. If you get worse reflux when you eat fried foods, then either give up fried foods entirely or eat them in tiny amounts and infrequently.

Another reason to reduce fried food: Many restaurants reheat previously used oil to fry food. Reheated oils have been found to produce toxins that, when consumed, have been found to increase the risk of several diseases, including cancer.

Start sautéing food instead of frying it, and you’ll still be able to enjoy most of the same ingredients, just in a different way. Sautéing is easier, safer, and will leave less grease on your stove and counter.

Baking, broiling, or roasting

Baking, broiling, and roasting take longer than frying, but these methods require much less fat (which means less reflux) and can lock in a unique flavor that frying and even sautéing can’t achieve.

Broiling and roasting, in particular, make ingredients taste even more like themselves. Cover whatever you’re cooking with foil or a lid, and many foods will become incredibly moist. Root vegetables are especially successful roasted, and many meats taste their best cooked in this fashion, too.


Steaming is one of the lowest-fat ways of cooking. It can work well for vegetables, but it can also make them mushy and lifeless if you steam them too long.

To steam, put a soup pot or saucepan on top of a burner. Pour water in the pan or pot, turn on the burner, and let the water come to a boil. Add a steamer basket to the top of the pan or pot. Add your vegetables to the basket.

When the color of the vegetables becomes a little more vivid than when they were raw, and when the vegetables have a little give, remove the basket from the steam. If you like your vegetables to have a nice crunch or to be chewy, cook for less time.


Boiling can be a good cooking option that can turn bad quickly. Over-boiling is probably the sole reason why generations of Americans hate Brussels sprouts; Brussels sprouts (and many other vegetables) taste much better roasted or sautéed than boiled. However, if you do boil them, they still can taste good as long as you don’t boil them beyond recognition. No vegetable should be mushy or pasty.

Vegetables are at their best when they reach their most vivid color. After that, they may have been in the water too long.

Always bring the water to a boil before putting the food in, as opposed to letting the food come to a boil along with the water. Remove from the water, drain, and season.

Less is more

Portion control is huge (ironic) when it comes to reducing acid reflux. Some main tips to remember for getting rid of acid reflux, or reducing it, are to eat the right foods, avoid the wrong foods, and eat the right portions. Within reason, the smaller the meal, the better.

You want to reduce pressure on the lower-esophageal sphincter (LES). Putting too much food in your system increases pressure beyond what that poor LES can take, and you suffer for it later.

The human stomach is only about the size of an adult’s cupped hands. Yes, it stretches out, but if you’re stretching it out too much and too often, chances are, the consequence will be acid reflux.

Avoiding trigger ingredients

Everyone has different trigger ingredients, but there are themes for sure. For instance, citrus, alcohol, and garlic are popular culprits. Find out what your triggers are, and avoid them.

Adding soothing ingredients

Isn’t it great that there are foods that are actually good for getting rid of reflux? See, it’s not just about avoidance! Try to add neutral, non-bothersome foods to your daily life.

Drinking wisely

So, you start sautéing instead of frying, you cut out trigger foods, and you increase soothing foods in your diet. You lose weight, exercise, and change your sleep position. You even quit smoking! All that has a great chance of working. However, if you wash the right foods in the right amounts down with the wrong beverage, you may continue to suffer from reflux.

Avoid soda and carbonated water, avoid juice unless you water it down dramatically, avoid caffeinated beverages, go easy on alcohol, and when in doubt, drink water. If you get sick of water, add fruit or herbs to give it a little flavor.

Reduce meat portions

The fattier the meat, the worse it is for acid reflux. The slower the fatty meat leaves your stomach, the worse it is for acid reflux. Keeping portions small is important for getting rid of reflux, and this is particularly true for meats. Minimize red meat and go for poultry or fish instead.

Reducing or substituting fat

You can reduce fat by using less of it in your recipes. For baked goods, applesauce can be a great replacement for fat (you can also do half–traditional fat and half-applesauce). You can replace full-fat butter with reduced-fat butter and/or eat smaller quantities of it. Same with all dairy products.