How to Enjoy a Backyard Barbecue With GERD

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

Greasy ribs, hot dogs, and spicy margaritas are among the foods and beverages that many people look forward to in the spring and summer months. However, if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), backyard parties can be full of digestive land mines. Read on for tips to feel your best in the months ahead.

Choose a lean protein

In one acid reflux study, people who consumed more cholesterol and saturated fatty acids, and had more percentage calories come from fat, were more likely to experience a reflux event. This means that barbecue ribs, for example, would not be a good choice to eat at a party because they have a high fat-to-protein ratio. Ribs may also be coated in a spicy sauce that could trigger reflux. Instead, choose poultry or fish, if either is offered. A vegetarian option, such as a grilled veggie burger, can be a delicious and healthy choice, too.

Bring your own drinks

Another simple trick to help you feel your best at a barbecue is to bring your own beverages. Often, backyard barbecue staples include alcoholic beverages and carbonated drinks. But if you have acid reflux, both of these should be avoided. Instead, pack a cooler with bottles of water, herbal iced tea, and sport drinks. You may be surprised at how many people would prefer to drink what you are drinking; these days, soda sales are on the decline and sales of non-carbonated beverages are on the rise.

Fill your plate with fruits and veggies

Most outdoor party menus include vegetable trays, fruit salads, and items like corn on the cob. Filling your plate with these nutrient-rich foods will help you feel full. They are also low in calories, so you don’t have to feel bad if you go back for seconds. Fruits and vegetables are also high in dietary fiber, which provides many health benefits. People who eat larger amounts of dietary fiber are at a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and diabetes. Increased fiber consumption also benefits GERD.

Look for whole grains

Carbohydrates often get a bad reputation because so many people are eating the wrong ones, such as sugary cereal, cookies, and candy. However, good carbohydrates are our body’s main energy source. Carbohydrates can also satisfy our cravings and keep us fuller for longer. Look for foods such as a quinoa salad, whole wheat pasta, or popcorn at the party — or, if it’s a potluck, why not volunteer to bring one of these yourself? Others will be thankful for healthier options.

Stay active

Acid reflux is caused when stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus after eating. Additionally, acid reflux is worse after meals. One of the things that can help reflux symptoms is to empty the food from your stomach as quickly as possible. After you eat, your stomach will empty faster if you are standing or walking instead of just sitting. Getting up after you eat and joining a game of croquet or badminton can decrease your reflux symptoms.

Respect your body

Reflux is a complicated condition. What foods bother you may be different than those that bother other people. It is important to know which foods are reflux triggers for you. It’s also imperative to respect your body in light of that information. Even though it may be difficult to forego some of the most tempting barbecue foods, the ultimate goal is to feel your best so you can enjoy your friends and family throughout the season.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.