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.
What is heartburn?
Often called acid indigestion, heartburn is a common condition associated with various symptoms of gastric discomfort, such as burning and warmth in your chest after eating. The pain that is experienced with heartburn is caused by stomach acid. Multiple episodes of heartburn can lead to a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or even 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 percent of pregnant women suffering from episodes of indigestion.
Foods that could trigger heartburn and indigestion
Each person is unique, and what triggers stomach problems for you may not be what triggers them in someone else. Keeping a food diary is useful for determining what foods trigger your indigestion. Once your food triggers are identified, it is best to eliminate them from your diet completely to avoid experiencing further stomach problems and heartburn episodes. That being said, there are several foods that 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
Heartburn-friendly foods to reduce the risk of stomach problems
There are a number of foods that can increase your indigestion symptoms, so when you’re planning a meal you should try to avoid them if possible. The good news is, there are many foods that are unlikely to cause indigestion, including:
- Fruits – apples, bananas, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, watermelon
- Veggies – baked potato, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas, celery, carrots
- Dairy – low-fat or fat-free cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt
- Meat/protein – extra-lean ground beef, skinless chicken and turkey, egg whites, 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
Cooking tips to prevent heartburn and indigestion
If you suffer from heartburn, you can use different cooking approaches, 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 flavor into your food, use heartburn friendly spices as well as broths and low-acid juices instead of oils, which are high in fat.
In 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. Be sure to pay attention to portion control and timing of meals to avoid indigestion.