Teens with reflux are not too happy when they learn what is on the "do not eat" list for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Fun foods like pizza, fried chicken and French fries aren’t exactly on the list. Unfortunately, soda isn’t on the list either. Just about any drink with caffeine, hot or cold is on the "do not drink" list so forget about cola, coffee or energy drinks like Red Bull. So what is left to eat? Turns out there are plenty of choices and even a few variations on the favorites.
So here’s the deal-if your doctor hasn’t banned a food and you do not have a true food allergy, you can eat just about any food that you want and accept the consequences. But if you really want to manage your reflux and reduce the heartburn and discomfort, you are going to have to make some changes. It is likely you will need to avoid some foods, eat other foods in small amounts or substitute a food to get the best results. Remember, some teens need to make drastic changes in their diet while others can tolerate a variety of foods in their diet. Everyone is different so be sure to talk to your doctor and get advice on changing your diet as part of your treatment plan.
Foods to Avoid
It is likely you will need to avoid high acid foods such as:
Citrus: oranges, lemons, grapefruit and juice made with these fruits
Tomato: tomatoes, tomato sauce
Spicy food: Mexican taco, burrito or enchilada, Italian food such as pasta sauce and pizza
Alcohol: Well, you should avoid alcohol for many reasons. But if you have GERD, there is one more reason to avoid alcohol-it will trigger your reflux too.
Caffeine: cola, coffee, tea, iced tea, chocolate.
High Fat Foods: May cause fullness because high fat foods digest slowly and stay in your stomach longer.
Eat Small Meals
How you eat is just as important as what you eat. Eating small, frequent meals puts less stress on your stomach and may help you digest better. You may be able to eat a nibble of your favorite foods, just not a full serving. Go slowly and listen to your stomach.
If you have just been diagnosed with reflux, it can be overwhelming to change a habit like eating. It is best to make small changes in your diet and eating routine.
Here are some substitutions for common foods:
Eat This: Not That:
Fruit Smoothie Milkshake
Grilled Chicken Sandwich Fried Chicken Sandwich
Turkey, Ham or Chicken Sub Meatball Sub
Water, 100% Fruit Juice Orange Juice, soda, cola
My teens with reflux are what I call, "Careful Eaters". They make good decisions about what they eat at home and when eating out. Well, most of the time. Sometimes they will eat something acidic like pizza with tomato sauce but then they will skip the soda and drink water instead. They are able to eat a bit of a high acid food to satisfy their cravings without triggering heartburn. I hope you are a "careful eater" too and do all you can to manage your reflux by making good choices.