How to Avoid Triggering Acid Reflux When Eating Chinese Food

overheat shot of people enjoying Chinese food
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Chinese restaurants can be difficult to enjoy when you tend to get heartburn. The dishes may contain ingredients that trigger your acid reflux, and it may be difficult to control your meal options like you can at home.

Consider the following tips on dodging heartburn, and why seeing a doctor if your heartburn worsens or is frequent is important. 

Avoid Trigger Foods at a Chinese Restaurant

This should be a no-brainer, but when you are looking at a menu, it is easy to be lured in by hunger and dishes that sound yummy. If you have heartburn, you of course want to avoid foods that trigger your heartburn. In other words, take a pass on the fried and spicy dishes. Examples of specific foods that may trigger heartburn at a Chinese restaurant include:

  • 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

If you aren't sure what is in a dish or how the dish is prepared, don't be afraid to ask. Also, don't be afraid to request alterations or substitutions if any dish contains ingredients that can cause heartburn for you. For example, you may ask for non-breaded chicken with your entree or white or brown rice instead of fried rice. 

Order These Dishes at a Chinese Restaurant

The following list of Chinese menu items may be kinder to your stomach and esophagus. None of them are fried or spicy. In addition, most of them are lighter so they won't trigger reflux unless you eat too much. These options you may consider include:

  • 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

Dealing With Chinese Food Heartburn

You can probably trace at least one heartburn episode to what you ate. For many of you, there may be foods you can never eat because heartburn occurs every time you do. Then there are likely some foods you can eat in limited amounts without experiencing too much heartburn. You may also notice that sometimes, it's how or when you eat, rather than what you eat, that triggers the unpleasant symptoms.

That being said, there are likely times when you take all the precautions in the world and still end up with heartburn. This is a big clue that you need to move into managing your food-triggered heartburn mode. In other words, when you're spending a lot of time and energy managing your post-meal heartburn, it's best to stick with the safe foods in the first place.

A Word From Verywell

On a final note, remember to talk to your doctor if your heartburn is frequent (two or more times a week) or worsens. You could be suffering from a more serious condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The good news is that this condition can be treated effectively with lifestyle modifications and/or medication (which are usually needed only temporarily).

Another plug about why it is important to see your doctor is because untreated GERD can lead to serious complications like esophageal ulcers, esophageal strictures, Barrett's esophagus, and esophageal cancer. In the end, be safe and good to yourself and do not self-diagnose.

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