Best Snacks for People with Acid Reflux
- Feel good, look good, and avoid acid reflux when snacking… these are Dr. K’s favorite go-to snacks, all low-acid and mostly low-fat … and some tips for making them simple and delicious in no time!
- Grab these 5 fast snacks between meals when you need to refuel before meetings, are out running errands, are stuck in traffic, or are on the way to pick up your kids.
- Enjoy 5 heartier snacks that also serve as a light meal but are still simple, fast, and delicious! Perfect for when you need to re-energize but don’t have the time for a full lunch break.
- Refluxers beware: No snacking on chocolate, chips, soda, citrus, and some nuts to prevent acid reflux from ruining your day.
Note: Respiratory Reflux (RR) and Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) are synonyms and the terms can be used interchangeably. But going forward, I prefer the term RR and so should you; it is easier to pronounce, more intuitive, and implies that RR can affect any and all parts of the respiratory system, which it does.
Five Quick Reflux-Friendly Snacks When You’re on the Go
Choose a handful of almonds to satisfy your hunger the next time you’re looking for a quick snack – 23 almonds equal 1/4 cup. Thought to help keep hair thick and strong, they’re a source of vitamin E, fiber, biotin, and good (monosaturated) fats.
A 2017 study found that nuts, including almonds, were associated with a 13% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 15% lower risk of coronary disease when eaten two or more times per week. But when it comes to reflux, all nuts are not created equal – almonds, pistachios, and walnuts are okay but try to avoid macadamia and cashews. And by the way, coconut, which is not a nut, isn’t so good for reflux.
Melons, such as cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon, make great high-pH snacks for refluxers. The most popular melon is the cantaloupe, also known as a muskmelon. As a high-vitamin-C food, it’s the top choice amongst melons for increasing energy and healthy skin. A half-cup of cantaloupe contains 34 mg of vitamin C. If you don’t have time to cut up a whole cantaloupe, this perfectly sweet fruit is often easily found in most supermarkets pre-cut and ready-to-eat.
As I’ve written before about the ubiquitous banana, it is a universal snack food for the refluxer. A medium banana has about 135 calories. When I’m watching my diet, I prescribe myself a banana per day.
I used to be a marathon runner, having completed the Boston marathon several times in my home state of Massachusetts, among others. Bananas make a great post-run recovery snack regardless of distance. Researchers found that a banana is a better choice for metabolic recovery following heavy exercise than a sugary drink.
Also, personally, for breakfast, I like Rice Krispies cereal with unsweetened vanilla almond milk topped with sliced banana ― easy and gluten-free.
Carrots are another excellent snack containing antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. Baby carrots are an easy, portable option that you can keep in a plastic zip-lock bag in your purse or briefcase during the day.
Popcorn is a safe snack for refluxers if you eat it plain or salted, avoiding butter and microwaveable versions. If you want it sweet and savory, you can have caramel corn for a delicious treat. Caramel is okay for refluxers ― just be sure to stay under 4 tablespoons per week maximum.
When I have more time, I make popcorn with rosemary and salt, which can be found in my book, Dr. Koufman’s Acid Reflux Diet. I use a 1/2 cup popping corn, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast, and 1/3 teaspoon powdered rosemary. I cook the popcorn in olive oil in a hot pot over medium heat, covered tightly with a lid. I shake the pot until I hear the popping stop. Once the popping stops, I remove the pot from the heat and add other ingredients. Turn on a movie, and enjoy!
Other Snacks: What About Cheese, Milk, Yogurt, and Apples?
Cheese is generally high-fat food, but that said, parmesan and other hard cheese can be consumed as long as you are not on a “reflux detox” program (no cheese allowed) … recommended are cottage cheese, ricotta, mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan. Milk is always okay as it is 2% or less fat. Yogurt is tricky for reflux as some brands are too acidic. You may want to consider getting yourself some pH paper and I recommend that get a yogurt that is above pH 4.7. Apples are a great source of antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber; at pH 5.1, Fuji apples are the best apple choice for the refluxer. And again, you could test your favorite apple’s pH with the paper; meanwhile pick a fruit that is above 4.7. FYI: Here’s a list of the pH (acidity) of common fruits and vegetables.
Five Delicious Reflux-Friendly Kitchen-Made Snacks When You Need a Bit More to Keep You Moving
When I first wrote Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure, I was uncertain about avocados because they are high in fat. The good news is that they don’t seem to trigger reflux at all (or hardly ever), and they’re a good healthy snack. For most people, the avocado snack is “avocado toast.”
Here’s how I make avocado toast easy: Open the avocado, cut it into small squares, and add a little olive oil and salt on top of it. Toast your bread of choice, add a little more olive oil, top it with the avocado mixture, and eat it as a two-slice open sandwich. There you go!
Smoothies are a good snack if you don’t make them too acidic. Keep frozen fruit in your freezer for convenience. For me, when the bananas start to turn, I break them up and throw them in the freezer, too. Frozen bananas are a great addition to any smoothie and help thicken the texture. Here are the pH values of the most common fruits and vegetables.
Here’s what I recommend: alkaline water ice cubes, 1/2 cup of almond milk, one banana, and one Fuji apple (pH 5.1 – and in this smoothie, it’s pH balanced). See my note about apples at the end of the blog.
Lox on a Bagel
Lox and bagels are great for refluxers who want a bigger snack any time of the day. Salmon is a good source of protein and full of Omega-3s, making it not only reflux-friendly but also a top pick for healthy skin. I’m gluten-free, so I use O’Dough’s gluten-free bagels, which come pre-sliced and are 100 calories per bagel. These bagels have a good shelf life – about two weeks.
Here’s how I make it: I lightly toast the bagel in my toaster oven, and when it’s golden, I take it out and add a small amount of cream cheese … and it’s okay without. Then, I top it with lox (West Coast Wild) that I keep in the fridge. It’s ready within 5 minutes and delicious!
Refluxers looking for a heartier snack can make a turkey sandwich. To make this a healthy option, avoid adding cheese and mayo. I use organic turkey breast (no skin), put it on gluten-free toast, and use a small amount of brown mustard. Voila!
Reheat a baked potato with olive oil and salt …
Whenever I make baked potatoes, I always make one or two extra. I save them for later to eat as a snack or with a meal. I put the potato in my toaster oven at 400° for 25 minutes, then cut it open, smash it up, and add olive oil and salt. Yum!
Avoid These Snacks to Prevent Acid Reflux
I’m sure we can all relate to Betty White in that Snickers commercial when we feel “hangry” and need to refuel. However, chocolate isn’t a good idea for refluxers… no, not even dark chocolate! Below are snacks to avoid if you have serious reflux.
Chocolate: Despite the promoted benefits of dark chocolate, chocolate is actually one of the worst foods for reflux.
Chips: Most chips are deep-fried to give them that crispy crunch, but they should be avoided along with other fried food to prevent acid reflux.
Soda: All soft-drinks are acidic. Stay away from all carbonated beverages, such as Coke and Pepsi. This also means avoiding seltzer water.
Citrus: Although it seems counterintuitive that citrus fruit and juices should be avoided, they are just too acidic and lead to reflux.