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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

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Heartburn: Foods to Avoid

Need heartburn relief? Here are top foods to avoid -- and why.

3 Heartburn-Preventing Lifestyle Changes

While watching what you eat and drink can help reduce your occurrences of heartburn, there are a few changes you can make in everyday life that can go hand in hand.

Watch Portion Size. Larger meals and higher-fat meals tend to stay in the stomach longer before moving into the small intestine, so the LES and esophagus are potentially exposed to stomach contents/acid for a longer time, according to Pat Baird, RD, with the National Heartburn Alliance.

So if you have frequent or occasional heartburn, it helps to keep meals in your stomach for as short a time as possible -- that means watching portion size.

Keep a Heartburn and Food Journal: "Keep in mind that anything we say about food and heartburn are generalizations and in any given individual, all bets are off," explains Shekhar Challa, MD, president of Kansas Medical Clinic and author of Spurn the Burn, Treat the Heat.

That's why it's important to keep a heartburn journal, discovering what triggers your heartburn, whether it's eating peppermint, drinking fruit juice, or lying down after a meal.

To make the most of your log, record symptoms, the time they occurred, what you ate, and activities you engaged in before the discomfort started.

Eat Out, Right. Many of us end up eating out many times a week and restaurants definitely offer a few challenge for those with heartburn. But, once you know what your personal 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

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Reviewed on August 04, 2008

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