Avoiding Foods That Cause Heartburn

Foods usually do not cause heartburn, but they can aggravate your condition and cause symptoms. Certain foods can cause symptoms by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter, which allows digestive juices to splash up into the esophagus, causing irritation of the esophagus.

Everyone reacts to foods differently, so keep track of the foods you eat and how it affects you. Share this information with your doctor.

The foods that most commonly cause symptoms of heartburn include:

  • Acidic foods, such as:
    • Citrus foods, like oranges, grapefruits, and their juices
    • Tomatoes and tomato products
  • Fatty or greasy foods
  • Chocolates
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, soda, or tea
  • Some herbal products, like peppermint tea

Try to avoid the following:

  • Eating within a few hours of your bedtime
  • Lying down after you eat
  • Overeating—consider eating smaller, more frequent meals spaced over the course of the day

If you are overweight, losing weight can reduce pressure on the esophagus, which can help relieve symptoms.

Smoking aggravates heartburn symptoms and greatly increases your risk of esophageal cancer (especially when combined with alcohol). Talk to your doctor about how you can successfully quit.

RESOURCES:

American Gastroenterological Association
http://www.gastro.org/patient-center
International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
http://www.aboutgerd.org/

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Institute for Health Information
http://www.cihi.ca/

References:

Acid reflux. The American College of Gastroenterology website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed July 2, 2014.
Duyff RL. The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food & Nutrition Guide. 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc; 2006.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated June 2, 2014. Accessed July 2, 2014.
Heartburn. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(12):1452-1455. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed July 2, 2014.
Last reviewed July 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 7/2/2014