Approximately one third of adults suffer from heartburn and if you’re one of them you know how uncomfortable it can be when you eat a food that triggers an attack. Making careful food choices is important if you want to keep your stomach problems from disrupting your life.
Heartburn is often called acid indigestion and it is a common condition where you may feel discomfort, including burning and warmth, in your chest after eating. The pain that is associated with heartburn is caused by stomach acid. Multiple episodes of heartburn can lead to a condition called gastroesphogeal reflux disease (GERD) and frequent episodes of heart burn can lead to more serious problems such as ulcers of the esophagus. While heartburn is common in the general population, it is extremely common in pregnant women, with up to 45% of pregnant women suffering from episodes of indigestion.
You are unique and what triggers stomach problems for you may not be what triggers them in someone else. It is best to keep a food diary to determine what foods trigger your indigestion. Once your food triggers are identified, it is best to avoid them completely to avoid experiencing further stomach problems and heartburn episodes. That being said, while each person is unique, there are several foods that have been identified which are known to trigger indigestion in many people, including:
- Caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, soda)
- Carbonated beverages
- Spicy foods
- Fried foods
- High-fat foods
- Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, etc.)
- Citrus fruit juices
- Tomatoes and tomato juice
There are a number of foods that can increase your indigestion symptoms so when you’re meal planning, you should try to avoid them if possible. The good news is that there are a variety of foods that are unlikely to cause indigestion, including:
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Fruits – apples, bananas, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, watermelon
Veggies – baked potato, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas, celery and carrots
Dairy – low fat or fat-free cheese, cream cheese, sour cream and yogurt
Meat/Protein – extra-lean ground beef, skinless chicken and turkey, egg whites and fish
Grains – multi-grain and white bread, white and brown rice, bran and oatmeal, pretzels
Spices – cinnamon, basil, dill, parsley, thyme, tarragon
Treats – fat free cookies, muffins and cakes, jelly beans, red licorice
Beverages – mineral water and low acid juices
If you suffer from heartburn, you can use different cooking methods which may help to alleviate stomach problems, including acid reflux. Try cooking with as little fat as possible. Skip deep frying and pan frying. If you’re going to sauté, use non-stick sprays as opposed to butter. Broiling, steaming, boiling, grilling and roasting are healthier ways to cook meats and veggies because they don’t require high levels of fat. To get flavour into your food, use heartburn friendly spices as well as broths and low-acid juices instead of oils, which are high in fat.
It addition to eating heartburn friendly foods and cooking with less fat, it is important to remember that eating large meals and eating before going to bed are likely to increase heartburn. So, be sure to pay close attention to portion control and timing of meals as well to avoid indigestion.