What Not to Eat When You Have Heartburn: A Comprehensive Guide to Heartburn-Causing Foods

Foods that cause heartburn can be a real pain, literally. Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest, usually occurring after eating certain foods or beverages. Identifying these triggers is crucial to managing heartburn and finding relief. In this article, we’ll explore the top heartburn-causing foods, drinks, and other lifestyle factors, as well as provide some tips on what to eat and drink when you’re experiencing this uncomfortable sensation.

What Not to Eat When You Have Heartburn A Comprehensive Guide to Heartburn-Causing Foods


Top Heartburn Causing Foods

Worst Foods for Heartburn

  1. Fried and fatty foods: High-fat meals tend to slow down digestion, which can lead to increased pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), causing it to relax and allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. Foods like french fries, fried chicken, and pizza are common culprits.

  2. Spicy foods: While some people can tolerate spicy foods without any issues, others may find that they trigger heartburn. Spicy dishes, such as hot sauces or curries, can irritate the esophagus and cause acid reflux.

  3. Citrus fruits: Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are highly acidic and can exacerbate heartburn for some people. If you find that citrus fruits cause heartburn, try eating them in smaller amounts or avoid them altogether.

  4. Tomatoes and tomato-based products: Tomatoes are also acidic and can trigger heartburn. This includes not only fresh tomatoes but also tomato sauces, ketchup, and other tomato-based products.

  5. Chocolate: Unfortunately, chocolate can be a heartburn trigger for some people. It contains theobromine, which can relax the LES, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.

  6. Garlic and onions: Both garlic and onions can cause heartburn, especially when consumed in large amounts or eaten raw. Cooking these ingredients may help reduce their heartburn-triggering effects.

  7. Peppermint: Though peppermint is often thought of as a stomach soother, it can actually trigger heartburn in some people. Peppermint relaxes the LES, allowing stomach acid to escape into the esophagus.

  8. Coffee and caffeinated drinks: Caffeine is a known heartburn trigger. It can relax the LES and stimulate the production of stomach acid. If you suffer from heartburn, consider cutting back on coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages.

  9. Alcohol: Alcohol can relax the LES and increase the production of stomach acid, both of which can lead to heartburn. Reducing your alcohol intake or avoiding it altogether may help alleviate heartburn symptoms.

Heartburn Causing Drinks

  1. Carbonated beverages: The bubbles in carbonated drinks can cause the stomach to expand, putting pressure on the LES and increasing the likelihood of acid reflux.

  2. Citrus juices: Just like the fruits themselves, citrus juices are highly acidic and can trigger heartburn.

  3. Alcohol (mentioned earlier)

  4. Coffee and caffeinated drinks (mentioned earlier)

Foods to Eat When Experiencing Heartburn

Bananas and their effect on heartburn

Bananas are low in acid and can help neutralize stomach acid, making them a great snack for those experiencing heartburn. Additionally, bananas are high in fiber, which can help improve digestion and reduce the risk of acid reflux.

Other heartburn-friendly foods

    1. Oatmeal: This high-fiber breakfast staple is not only filling but also gentle on the stomach and can help prevent acid reflux.

    2. Ginger: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger can help soothe the stomach and reduce acid production.

    3. Lean proteins: Foods like grilled chicken, turkey, and fish are low in fat and can help prevent heartburn. Remember to avoid frying these proteins, as the added fat can trigger heartburn.

    4. Whole grains: Whole grain bread, pasta, and rice are high in fiber and can help prevent acid reflux by improving digestion and reducing pressure on the LES.

    5. Non-citrus fruits: Fruits such as apples, pears, and melons are less acidic than citrus fruits and can help alleviate heartburn symptoms.

    6. Vegetables: Leafy greens, broccoli, and green beans are low in acid and can help reduce the risk of heartburn.

    7. Low-fat dairy products: Skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and reduced-fat cheese can provide calcium and protein without the added fat that can trigger heartburn.

Managing Heartburn and Acid Reflux

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Heartburn

      1. Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can put pressure on the LES, increasing the risk of acid reflux.

      2. Avoid lying down after eating: Wait at least 2-3 hours after a meal before lying down, as this can help prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.

      3. Eat smaller, more frequent meals: Eating smaller portions throughout the day can reduce pressure on the LES and help prevent acid reflux.

      4. Quit smoking: Smoking can weaken the LES and contribute to heartburn and acid reflux.

      5. Elevate the head of your bed: If you experience heartburn at night, try elevating the head of your bed by 6-8 inches to help prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.

Home Remedies for Heartburn Relief

      1. Chewing gum: Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can help stimulate saliva production, which can neutralize stomach acid and alleviate heartburn.

      2. Baking soda: Mixing a teaspoon of baking soda with a glass of water can help neutralize stomach acid and provide temporary relief from heartburn.

      3. Aloe vera juice: Drinking aloe vera juice can help soothe the esophagus and reduce heartburn symptoms.

      4. Apple cider vinegar: Although it may seem counterintuitive, some people find that drinking a small amount of diluted apple cider vinegar can help balance stomach acid and alleviate heartburn.


Heartburn can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition, but by identifying the foods that cause heartburn and making some lifestyle changes, you can better manage your symptoms. It’s important to remember that everyone is different, and what might trigger heartburn in one person may not have the same effect on someone else. Keep a food diary to help identify your personal triggers and make informed choices about your diet to minimize the risk of heartburn. If heartburn persists or worsens, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying conditions and receive appropriate treatment.


What Not to Eat When You Have Heartburn: A Comprehensive Guide to Heartburn-Causing Foods

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