Lifestyle Changes to Sort Out Your Remaining GERD Symptoms
If you have been diagnosed with GERD, your doctor has probably prescribed medications to help keep your esophageal sphincter closed and reduce your levels of stomach acid. Although results vary, most patients find that these medications alleviate the majority of their GERD symptoms and make them feel a whole lot better. But they still may have some lingering heartburn from time to time. You can address the remaining symptoms by making some or all of the following lifestyle changes.
1. Don't eat before bedtime.
When you lie down, if your esophageal sphincter is open even the smallest bit, you will end up with stomach acid in your esophagus. So as someone diagnosed with GERD, you should avoid eating within a few hours of bedtime. Try not to lie down for at least two hours after eating. If you can manage to go longer than that, then it's even better.
2. Avoid acidic foods.
The medications you're taking for GERD should go a long way towards keeping stomach acid levels down, but you don't want to negate their effects by eating a whole lot of acidic foods. Here are a few acidic foods to minimize in your diet:
- Vinegar and vinegar-based barbecue sauce
- Citrus juices and citrus fruits
3. Eat smaller meals.
If you eat smaller meals, your stomach will empty out sooner, which will help keep your GERD symptoms at bay. Try eating five or six smaller meals instead of three big meals each day. Or, if you really prefer to eat only three meals, make sure they are equal in size. Don't eat a tiny breakfast and lunch and a huge dinner, so you don't experience bad symptoms at the end of the day.
4. If you're overweight, lose weight.
If you are overweight, especially if you carry your extra weight in your abdomen, that extra tissue will press on your stomach and make GERD symptoms worse. So, you need to dedicate yourself to losing weight. Work with a dietitian or a personal trainer and aim to lose weight at a slow and steady rate. Don't crash diet; this could make GERD worse in the long run. Instead, use a plan tailored to you.
Prescription drugs can drastically reduce your GERD symptoms, but most people need to also make some lifestyle changes in order to get rid of GERD entirely. Talk to your doctor for additional advice about handling GERD symptoms.