Foods That Cause Heartburn: Avoid These Foods & Drinks

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You wake in the night, your chest burning. Sometimes the pain is so intense you think it’s a can affect almost everything you do, keeping you from sleeping at night and functioning well during the day.

Heartburn: Why It Happens

A muscular ring between the end of the esophagus and the beginning of the normally keeps stomach acid where it belongs — in the stomach. But in people with frequent heartburn, this area, the lower esophageal sphincter muscle (LES), may not prevent stomach acid from splashing up into the esophagus.

Does this mean you just have to live with ? No! A recent survey conducted by the National Heartburn Alliance (NHBA) revealed that 92% of frequent heartburn sufferers point to food as the primary cause of their digestive discomfort.

So, if a change in diet can help you avoid heartburn, which foods should you choose to lose to help head off the pain?

Heartburn Relief: Food Facts

Though can vary from person to person, certain food and drinks are more prone to allowing stomach acid to splash up into your esophagus, including:

  • Meats. Ground beef, marbled sirloin, chicken nugget-style, and chicken/buffalo wings.

  • Fats, Oils & Sweets.Chocolate, regular corn and potato chips, high-fat butter cookies, brownies, doughnuts, creamy and oily salad dressings, fried or fatty food in general.

  • Fruits, Vegetables & Juice. Orange juice, lemon, lemonade, grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, tomato, mashed potatoes, French fries, raw onion, potato salad.

  • Other Beverages. Liquor, wine, coffee, and tea.

  • Grains. Macaroni and cheese, spaghetti with marinara sauce.

  • Dairy. Sour cream, milk shake, ice cream, regular cottage cheese.

Foods and beverages like these contribute to heartburn (and the more serious heartburn triggers are, eating out can be easier, leaving just two important restaurant challenges:

  • High-fat foods. Choose low-fat options when you eat out and you’ll avoid one of the prime triggers for heartburn — fatty foods.

  • Huge portions. Eating too much can increase stomach pressure, causing acidic stomach contents to splash back into the esophagus. When you eat out, avoid big portions or take half your meal home.

Simple changes in diet and lifestyle can yield big heartburn relief. That’s why it’s a good idea to take the time to track your triggers, avoid the foods that irritate your heartburn, and make a few behavioral changes — and reap the relief that follows.

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD is the author of “Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Acid Reflux