Before You Eat Out

How to Eat at Restaurants If You Have Heartburn

Save to Board settings Young woman hit with sudden heartburn after drinking coffee

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You can eat out without fear of heartburn if you know what to ask for and what you should avoid. When you ask how the food is prepared, avoid certain beverages, and watch portion sizes, you can prevent the heartburn.

However, dining out at Chinese, Mexican, or Italian restaurants may be more difficult since food at these restaurants may contain more ingredients that can trigger your heartburn. It is possible to enjoy dining there if you know what to avoid.

Know What to Ask for

When considering a meal, ask if the meat is fried and if you can have it grilled instead. Asking for a low-fat substitute in place of the high-fat gravies and sauces served on the side is a good idea. Also important is to ask yourself if the meal you want to order contains any foods that are your trigger foods. If you aren't sure what your trigger foods are, keep a heartburn record for one week to chart any associations between what you eat and heartburn symptoms.

  • What You Shouldn't Eat

    • Fried foods, such as burgers, fried chicken, and fried fish
    • Foods prepared in butter or oil
    • High-fat side dishes, such as French fries
    • High-fat sauces, salad dressings, gravies, and mayo
    • Creamy soups
    • Chili
    • Dishes with lots of citrus fruit
    • Peppers
    • Onions
    • Foods with a lot of extra cheese
    • Tomato-based foods, including ketchup
    • Citrus drinks such as orange juice and lemonade
    • Caffeinated beverages
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Chocolate
    • What Is Better to Eat

      • White meat
      • Lean cuts of meat
      • Sandwiches with turkey, chicken, or roast beef on whole grain bread
      • Grilled foods
      • Broth-based soups
      • Steamed vegetables
      • Baked potatoes topped with low-fat salad dressing
      • Low-fat or no-fat salad dressings
      • Lighter desserts, such as angel food cake
      • Chinese Restaurants

        What to avoid:
          • Breaded and fried entrees
        • Egg rolls
        • Ribs
        • Sauces thickened with eggs and butter
        • Hot and sour soup
        • Crispy deep-fried noodles
        • Sweet and sour dishes
        What is better:
          • Wonton soup
        • Steamed dumplings
        • Brown rice
        • Dishes made with vegetables in a light sauce
        • Stir-fried or steamed dishes with light wine or lobster sauces
        • Sauces thickened with broth and cornstarch
        • Fortune cookies
        • Mexican Restaurants

          What to avoid:
            • Chimichangas
          • Chorizo
          • Fried tortilla chips and taco shells
          • Cheese and sour cream toppings
          • Refried beans
          • Chile peppers
          • Salsa, tomato, and onions
          • Mole sauce
          • Flan, or other rich desserts
          • Sangria and margaritas
          What is better:
            • Grilled chicken or fish
          • Low-fat refried beans and rice
          • Fajitas
          • Burritos
          • Tortillas
          • Mild Guacamole on a flour tortilla
          • Broth-based soups
          • Italian Restaurants

            What to avoid:
              • Tomato or cream sauces
            • Pizza toppings such as double cheese, sausage, pepperoni, hot peppers
            • Oil-based salad dressings
            • Antipastos
            • Carbonara
            • Parmigiana
            • Foods with garlic and spices
            What is better
              • Dishes with little cheese
            • Veal, chicken, grilled meat, or fish
            • Pasta with a light broth sauce
            • Minestrone or pasta fagioli soups
            • Vegetables without garlic
            • Pasta primavera without sauce
            • Pasta in broth-based sauce
            • Pizza with little sauce and cheese
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