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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

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BBQ Tricks for Avoiding Heartburn

Just because it's hot outside doesn't mean you have to feel the heat of heartburn when enjoying foods of the season.

Foods That Trigger Heartburn continued...

"People tend to know," Liddle says. "They will say, 'I get heartburn every time I eat pizza.'"

Some real culprits that turn up time and time again are:

  • Fatty meats and deep-fried foods (they stay in the stomach longer, giving acid more of a chance to wander)
  • Citrus
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Tomato products (salsa, catsup)
  • Colas and coffee (caffeine and carbonation are both suspect)
  • Orange juice

Some of these weaken the hold of the sphincter, while some scratch at irritation that is already there.

Other foods can bloat your stomach and force the acid back up your throat. These include carbonated beverages.

A good rule of thumb is not to eat greasy meals and foods that are already chock-full of acid.

So What Can You Eat for a Heartburn-Free Cookout?

The key to enjoying cookouts is to know what foods agree with you, Magee says.

  • If grease bothers you, stick with grilled foods or vegetables.
  • Instead of tomatoes, load up your salads with carrots, beans, jicama, or other milder veggies.
  • Burgers are OK, Magee says, but get the leanest cuts and dress with guacamole or something else less acidic than catsup.
  • If carbonated drinks lead to late-night torture, stick with iced tea.
  • If Margaritas and you don't get along, drink less or switch to a virgin strawberry type.
  • Watermelon can be acid-producing. Consign it to a mixed-fruit salad only.
  • Eat smaller portions. Your stomach detects large amounts and pumps out more acid.

Other Tips for Preventing Heartburn

Both Liddle and Magee agree that when you eat and how much have a real effect on heartburn.

If you're prone to heartburn, Magee recommends eating three to four hours before bedtime. "Often people won't eat all day while they are running around in the heat," she says. Then when they eat at night, they eat too much and then go to bed. This makes stomach contents more likely to splash up."

If you are taking aspirin, pain meds, antibiotics, or iron, be extra cautious. These can set off heartburn.

Other ways to help drench your heartburn include:

  • Exercise as usual, but don't eat before, during, or just after.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Stop smoking (it not only stimulates acid production, but loosens the valve that protects your throat and can also reduce saliva production).
  • Elevate the head of your bed with wedges.
  • Take over-the-counter medication. If you find you need something more than twice a week check with your doctor. You may need a prescription.
  • Relax! The stress doesn't cause the heartburn, but it can cause you to gobble trigger foods.

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