Eliminating spicy foods from your diet to avoid heartburn and bouts of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), doesn't mean you have to be relegated to a lifetime of eating bland, tasteless meals. In fact, you can develop GERD-friendly meals that both reduce acid production and taste delicious. It just takes a little practice-and patience.

To start, learn which foods are your GERD triggers by keeping a food diary and writing down everything you eat, when you eat it, and your reaction to those foods. Then start eliminating them from your diet. Some common GERD food triggers include:

  • Tomato-based products
  • Fried and fatty foods
  • Chocolate
  • Whole-fat dairy products
  • Mints
  • Coffee and tea (caffeinated or not)
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Highly processed foods, white sugar, white flour products and wheat

Some cooking methods that add fat to foods can contribute to acid reflux as well by causing the overproduction of gastrin, a hormone that stimulates stomach acid. To limit your fat consumption, trim any excess fat and skin off meat and poultry before cooking. And try roasting or broiling meat, fish, and poultry instead of frying to reduce the need to add fat during the preparation of the meal. You'll eat healthier without sacrificing taste. To keep foods flavorful, try:

  • Steaming and poaching foods to maintain their natural flavor
  • Using chicken or vegetable broth to keep foods moist
  • Using flavorful spray-on oils such as olive oil to keep foods tasty without adding excess fat and calories
  • Stir-frying foods in a wok, which will cut down on the amount of oil needed to cook the meal without reducing flavor

Replacing acidic foods with ones rich in alkaline will help restore your body's pH balance and reduce acid reflux symptoms. To increase alkaline in your diet, include vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, and cabbage. And add fruits like avocados, apples, and bananas. Adding cucumber slices to a glass of water is also an easy way to increase your alkaline intake.

If spicy foods are an acid reflux trigger for you, you don't have to entirely give up your favorite Mexican or Italian recipes. Just try replacing spices like pepper and chilies with green spices such as basil, marjoram, thyme, sage, and oregano.

Finding the right combination of food and flavorings that work for you will not only help reduce your heartburn episodes, but will put you on the path to an overall healthier diet.