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    My Triggers
    Back to Morning

    Answer these questions if you have heartburn when you wake up or after breakfast.

    Answer these questions if you have heartburn after lunch.

    Answer these questions if you have heartburn after work or dinner.

    Answer these questions if you have heartburn before or after going to bed.

    What's causing your heartburn?

    Use this guide to help you identify and avoid heartburn triggers throughout your day. Answer questions and get a list of personalized triggers, plus recipes and tips on eating out and understanding heartburn.

    Select a time of day to get started:


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      Answer questions about your heartburn to get a list of personalized triggers. Choose a time of day to get started.

      Dining out



      burger and soda

      Whatever fast food is your favorite fare, pay attention to portion size. Overeating ups the chances of getting heartburn.


      • Combo orders with sandwich, fries, drink
      • Double burgers
      • Onion rings, fries
      • "Supersize" orders
      • All-you-can-eat buffets
      • Country fried steak and all the fixings
      • Meats with fiery-hot BBQ sauce
      • Ketchup


      • Sandwich without fries
      • Grilled chicken sandwich
      • Plain baked potato
      • Salad bar with low-cal dressings
      • Turkey sandwich with vegetable soup
      • BBQ meat with no sauce, or mild sauce
      • Honey-based dressing

      Coffee Shops

      cup of coffee

      It isn't just the coffee that might turn on the burn. Coffee shop fare can contain a lot of fat. If that's one of your heartburn triggers, there is still tasty food for you here.


      • Quiche
      • Fried chicken sandwich
      • French fries
      • Chicken fried steak
      • Donuts
      • Chocolate cake
      • Coffee
      • Tea with caffeine


      • Broth-based soups with vegetables
      • Grilled chicken sandwich
      • Plain Baked potato
      • Veggie burger
      • Whole wheat bagel
      • Fruit bowl for dessert
      • Decaf herbal tea
      • Mineral water



      Breakfast is a perfect meal to squeeze in some of your fruit servings for the day. Pick ones that will be kind to you. The less citrus, the better.


      • Grapefruit, oranges, tangerines
      • Coffee, orange juice
      • Bacon and fried eggs
      • Chocolate donuts or croissants
      • Sugary cereal


      • Apples, bananas, peaches
      • Low-fat milk, apple juice
      • Poached or hard-boiled eggs
      • Whole-wheat bagel and jam


      chinese food

      Some Chinese food may be spicy, but the menu at your favorite restaurant should have plenty of heartburn-free options.


      • Egg rolls or fried spring rolls
      • Deep fried wontons
      • Crab Rangoon
      • Szechuan pork or chicken
      • Fried rice
      • Sweet and sour pork or chicken
      • Hot and sour soup
      • Fried dessert


      • Wonton soup
      • Steamed dim sum
      • Steamed dumplings
      • Stir-fried beef with broccoli
      • Plain or brown rice
      • Moo Goo Gai Pan or Mu Shu Pork
      • Egg drop soup
      • Steamed broccoli or eggplant
      • Fortune cookies



      Getting heartburn doesn't mean you have to give up desserts. Just fine-tune what you order to avoid your triggers, such as chocolate.


      • Chocolate candies
      • Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting
      • Chocolate chip cookies
      • Fried or chocolate pies
      • Mocha ice cream
      • Chocolate mocha cake
      • Mocha cookies
      • Key lime pie
      • Lemon meringue pie
      • Regular ice cream


      • Hard non-citrus candies -- not mint
      • Angel food cake
      • Sugar cookies
      • Apple pie
      • Vanilla low-fat ice cream
      • Sponge cake
      • Vanilla or sugar cookies
      • Berries in season
      • Peach pie
      • Non-fat frozen yogurt

      Fine Dining

      wine bottle and glass

      If you like gourmet cuisine, you can still enjoy it without getting heartburn, even if fatty foods are a trigger for you. Here, how to cut back the fat, but not the taste.


      • Creamy salad dressings
      • Dishes made with butter
      • Porterhouse steak and other high-fat cuts
      • Scalloped potatoes
      • Fish in lemon cream sauce
      • Fennel with lemon stuffing
      • Green beans with lemon
      • Spring greens with cherry tomatoes
      • Caprese salad
      • Ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes
      • Gourmet pizza with tomato paste
      • Lamb or lamb kabobs with mint sauce
      • Beet and mint salad
      • Mint and yogurt soup
      • Au gratin potatoes
      • Rib eye steaks
      • Fried vegetables
      • "Designer" coffee drinks
      • Wine, other alcohol


      • Low-fat salad dressings
      • Dishes grilled with little oil
      • Nonfat frozen yogurt
      • London broil or filet mignon
      • Plain Baked potato
      • Grilled fish
      • Vegetable kabobs with grapes
      • Fennel with parsley
      • Green beans and onions
      • Mixed green salad with low-fat dressing
      • Ravioli with zucchini
      • Gourmet pizza with pesto base
      • Lean Beef kabobs
      • Roasted lamb
      • Asparagus or other vegetable soup
      • Brown rice
      • London broil or round steak
      • Steamed vegetables
      • Fruit bowl
      • Mineral water


      greek food

      If fatty foods trigger your heartburn, you can still enjoy Greek food.


      • Fried calamari
      • Moussaka (lamb and beef)
      • Classic Baba Ganoush
      • Classic lentil soup
      • Zucchini with lemon
      • Artichoke with lemon
      • Fried fish
      • Gyro
      • Bakalava


      • Dolmas (rice in grape leaves)
      • Roast lamb
      • Shish kabob
      • Eggplant dip without tomato
      • Lentil soup without tomato
      • Fava beans
      • Grilled fish
      • Roasted vegetables
      • Fruit


      indian food

      If you love Indian food, don't despair -- yes, it's often spicy, but you can avoid the burn with some wise menu choices.


      • Pineapple chutney
      • Paneer Pakora (cheese and mint sauce)
      • Indian relish (red peppers)
      • Butter chicken (tomato sauce)
      • Tomato rice
      • Pappu Tomato
      • Samosas
      • Curries made with cream
      • Fried or stuffed breads
      • Curries with coconut cream or milk


      • Vegetable platter
      • Squash Vada
      • Asparagus with ginger
      • Malai Kofta (vegetarian meatballs, without sauce)
      • Tandoori chicken
      • Mango chicken salad
      • Papadum (thin lentil wafers)
      • Curries with a vegetable base
      • Naan (bread)
      • Roasted meat dishes such as chicken tikka


      italian food

      Tomatoes are a common heartburn trigger, and a big part of Italian fare. Eating Italian takes a little creativity to avoid the burn. But you can do it.


      • Tomato sauces, toppings
      • Tomato toppings
      • Chicken parmigiana
      • Pepperoni, sausage, salami on pizza
      • Tiramisu
      • Coffee
      • Wine


      • Mushroom sauce, broth-based sauce
      • Crunchy bruschetta toast without toppings
      • Baked chicken without sauce
      • Broccoli, mushrooms, olives on pizza
      • Plain biscotti
      • Decaf herbal tea
      • Mineral water


      mexican food

      Salsa is traditional Mexican fare, but if tomatoes kick up your heartburn, you can still enjoy some South-of-the-border dishes.


      • Chips and salsa
      • Tomatoes in tacos
      • Fried taco shells
      • Chile peppers
      • Mole sauce
      • Chorizo
      • Chimichangas
      • Margaritas
      • Flan


      • Chips with mild guacamole
      • Guacamole in tacos
      • Flour tortilla
      • Milder peppers, if you can tolerate them
      • Mild guacamole
      • Chicken in flour tortilla
      • Fajitas (no onions)
      • Mineral water



      Seafood can be kind to your heartburn -- or cruel. If fried foods are your heartburn trigger, here's what you need to know.


      • Fried fish or shellfish
      • Balsamic vinegar glazed salmon
      • Seafood gumbo or bouillabaisse


      • Baked, broiled, or grilled fish or shellfish
      • Grilled salmon without sauce
      • Fish and potato stew (no tomatoes)


      thai food

      Spices are a mainstay of Thai cuisine. If spicy foods trigger your heartburn, choose wisely.


      • Geow Grob (fried wontons)
      • Tod Mun (fried fish cake)
      • Gang Leang (spicy vegetable soup)
      • Tom Yum Goong (shrimp in spicy soup)
      • Tom Yum Hed (spicy oyster mushroom soup)
      • Moo Dang (BBQ pork with five spice marinade)
      • Pud Makua Yow (stir-fried eggplant with chili pepper)
      • Goong Ob Woonsen (shrimp with garlic)
      • Mee Grow Chow Wung (sweet and sour crispy fried rice)
      • Goew Tiew Kak (rice noodles in beef curry sauce)
      • Cha (Bright orange tea)
      • Pineapple mango upside down cake
      • Fried bananas


      • Satay (marinated, grilled meat)
      • Thai salad rolls without sauce
      • Gang Jued Naw Mai Sod Gub Gai (fresh bamboo shoot soup)
      • Nam Gang (chicken broth)
      • Tom Yum Gai (lean chicken soup with lemongrass)
      • Neur toon (slow-cooked beef stew, hold the spices)
      • Grilled snapper
      • Ginger and chicken stir fry
      • Pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodles with chives, sprouts and shrimp)
      • Kow Su-ay (rice cooked in water)
      • Fug Tong Gang Buad (pumpkin in coconut milk)
      • Boa Loy (rice balls in coconut milk)
      • Saku Piak Maprow On (tapioca pudding in warm coconut milk)

      Understanding Heartburn


      Heartburn has nothing to do with your heart. It's a burning feeling behind your breastbone, along with a bitter, sour taste in your mouth.

      stomach diagram

      How heartburn happens:

      When you eat, food goes from your mouth down a tube called the esophagus into your stomach. In between the esophagus and the stomach is an opening called the lower esophageal sphincter. This muscular valve acts like a door to let food into your stomach. It normally closes quickly behind the food to keep stomach acids -- which break down the food -- from backing up into your esophagus.

      If that valve doesn't close all the way, stomach acid backs up, or refluxes, into the esophagus. Stomach acid irritates the lining of the esophagus and causes a painful burning sensation. The feeling may be worse after bending over or when you lie down.

      Certain foods and drinks -- like tomato products, alcohol, citrus, coffee, and fatty or spicy foods -- may be more likely to irritate the lower esophageal sphincter and make heartburn worse. Being overweight, eating big meals, wearing clothes that are tight around the waist, and smoking also raise your risk for heartburn.

      Learning what triggers your heartburn can help you ease the burn.

      Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, M.D.
      March 1, 2012

      Cool Recipes

      No recipe is guaranteed to be heartburn-proof. But these will help you avoid the most common triggers — and they're delicious!


      Select a meal type, a recipe and click Submit above.