Can You Eat Peanut Butter on a GERD Diet?

Peanut butter
You can eat peanut butter in moderation on a GERD diet. (Image: baibaz/iStock/Getty Images)

The GERD diet is short for the Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease diet. People with gastroesophageal reflux disease have persistent heartburn, shortness of breath and chest discomfort caused by stomach acid entering the esophagus through a weakened or malfunctioning lower esophageal sphincter. The GERD diet is designed to eliminate foods that may exacerbate these symptoms. These foods can include chocolate, coffee, alcohol, soda and fried or high-fat foods. Other items, including peanut butter, may be fine for you eat on a GERD diet, but you check with your doctor first.

Peanut Butter Recommendation

According to author and nutritionist Tanya Zuckerbrot, plant-based proteins are fine to eat if you're on the GERD diet. This includes peanut butter, as well as bean dips like hummus, and soy items such as tofu. In fact, any low-fat protein is allowed on the diet, including lean beef or pork, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, beans and legumes and low- or nonfat dairy. Peanut butter is a good choice since, unlike some animal-based proteins, it contains fiber: Each 1-tablespoon serving of peanut butter has 1 gram of dietary fiber.

How Much To Eat

Even while on the GERD diet, men and women between the ages of 19 and 30 need 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 ounces of protein-rich foods daily, while adults aged 31 years and older require slightly less, at 5 to 6 ounces per day. A 1-tablespoon serving of peanut butter -- or any other nut butter -- would fulfill 1 ounce of that daily protein requirement, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

How to Eat It

It's important to eat plenty of high-fiber foods while you're on the GERD diet to keep your digestive system functioning at its best. For a snack or quick lunch, try chunk-style peanut butter spread on whole-grain toast and topped with thinly sliced apples or mashed banana to pack in extra soluble and insoluble fiber. Instead of pairing the meal with soda, coffee, whole milk, caffeinated tea or citrus juice -- all of which may increase your gastroesophageal reflux symptoms -- have water, low- or nonfat milk, herbal tea or non-citrus juice such as apple juice, instead.

Expert Insight

Different foods, including peanut butter, may affect people with gastroesophageal reflux disease differently. The McKinley Health Center advises that the best way for you to determine if a particular food is an acceptable addition to your diet is to keep a journal that lists your meals, the time they were eaten and what, if any, symptoms you experienced afterward. Even if you can eat peanut butter on the GERD diet, know that all nut butters are high in calories. Eat them in moderation and look for low-sugar, low-sodium brands whenever possible.

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