Heartburn Diet and Tips 

Prilosec OTC

Eat Well at Home and Dine Out Sensibly

You don’t have to give up all of your favorite foods to avoid heartburn. A well-stocked pantry with heartburn-friendly foods is key. So is making the right choices at restaurants. Heartburn foods that trigger symptoms, such as fats, oils, chocolate, or citrus products can be less tempting when there's a supply of "safe" ingredients in your kitchen cabinets. The added benefit of a good heartburn diet is healthier eating for the entire family.


If you suffer from heartburn, there are some simple things you can do that will help manage your levels of stomach acid. Hi, I’m Dr. Frank McGeorge for Prilosec OTC. Today we’re going to talk about ways in which you can reduce your heartburn—the fourth video in this series. Now, the following suggestions are not universal; heartburn triggers vary from person to person, so experiment with these suggestions and make a conscious effort to assess how your body feels. Using a diary to track what works and what doesn’t can help you figure out the best diet for you. For example, drink water between meals rather than with them. If you consume too much liquid with a meal, it actually increases the volume of stomach contents, which increases your chance of heartburn. Be careful with peppermint, spearmint, and chocolate; they all contain compounds that cause the lower esophageal sphincter—that’s the muscle that acts like a valve to let food into the stomach—to loosen or relax. When that happens, acid in the stomach can flow back up into the esophagus. Also, highly acidic foods like oranges, orange juice, tomatoes, and grapefruits are classic heartburn foods, especially when they’re consumed on an empty stomach. You might consider experimenting with stomach-cooling juices like papaya, mango, guava, and pear instead of that morning glass of orange juice. Now, certain spices like ginger, curry, and parsley all provoke heartburn. Same holds for garlic and raw onions, or any food loaded with pepper, so try just a little bit at a time. Alcoholic beverages—wine or beer, for example—can trigger heartburn for some people, and caffeinated beverages—coffee, tea, and cola—all raise the level of acidity in the stomach, making stomach juices even more irritating if they make their way up into the esophagus. One of the best things you can do to help avoid the wrong foods and drinks is to keep a stash of safe snacks in your home or office. Having healthy foods on hand that you enjoy—like cut-up raw vegetables, raisins, or graham crackers—make reaching for those less healthy snacks and beverages less likely, plus you don’t feel like you’re missing out as much. And when it comes to dessert, always try to go light. Heavy desserts tend to be higher in fat, meaning they can induce heartburn. Try sucking on hard candy instead—this triggers the production of saliva, which acts as a natural barrier to acid; just be sure to avoid mint candies. Also, don’t forget that how you eat is just as important as what you eat. Practice portion control because your stomach responds to large portions by producing large amounts of acid. Also, eating slowly and chewing foods thoroughly will not only make you feel fuller, it gives your stomach time to digest, and that can decrease the probability of heartburn. Finally, finish eating your last meal of the day at least two to three hours before going to bed. That time will give your acid levels a chance to decrease before you lie down; that’s a position in which heartburn is likely to occur. Remember, though, the best heartburn protection comes from a combination of diet, health, and lifestyle changes. Now, if you’re still suffering from heartburn two or more days per week, you should talk to your doctor about supplementing your diet with a medication. For more ideas, watch our video, What Foods You Should Eat to Reduce Heartburn. I’m Dr. Frank McGeorge for Prilosec OTC.

Heartburn-Reducing Foods to Keep at Home



Try to purchase whole grains versus refined grains whenever possible. Be sure to store in an airtight container after opening.

Brown Rice

Basmati Rice (aromatic long-grain rice)

Short-Grain Rice

Wehani Rice (dark, Basmati-type from California)




Stone-Ground Cornmeal

Quick-Cooking Oats

Polenta (instant and regular)

Quick-Cooking Grits

Ready-to-Eat Whole-Grain Cereals



Be sure to prepare these with a light broth-type sauce (not tomato-based or high-fat). Perk up the dish with herbs such as basil and tarragon. (See Bow Tie Pasta with Peas and Ham recipe.)




Cappellini (angel hair)



Orzo (rice-shaped pasta)



Beans, peas, and lentils

All of these items provide a good source of vegetable protein, B vitamins, and minerals such as calcium and iron. They are also an excellent source of fiber for your heartburn diet. Keep both dried and canned varieties on your shelf, and toss them into soups, salads, and pasta and casserole dishes.

Red Kidney Beans

Black Beans

White Kidney Beans

Split Peas (yellow, green)

Navy Beans

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

Scarlet Runners




Use oils in moderation. Darker oils (such as sesame) have a wonderful flavor, and a little goes a long way in adding good taste and enjoyment to dishes.

Extra-Virgin Olive: Experiment, as the taste of olive oils varies from mild to very flavorful.


Sesame—light and dark



Note: Keep cooking-oil sprays (such as PAM®)* in the cupboard. There are several flavored varieties available too. This is a handy way to cut down extra fat, keep food from sticking to pans, and add a little flavor.



These can be problem items for severe heartburn sufferers because of the acid content. However, cider vinegar and rice vinegar are often tolerated better by many people, and both add nice flavor to food. Use other vinegars in moderation if there hasn't been a problem with them in the past.


Condiments and canned goods

Most people with heartburn can eat mustard, and some can handle ketchup (in small amounts) fairly well. These are handy items to perk up recipes, and quick add-ons to a meal.



Soy Sauce

Chicken and Vegetable Broth

Dried Mushrooms

Reduced-Fat Mayonnaise

Fat-Free Salad Dressings

Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter

Dried Fruits

Fruit Spreads

Canned Fruits

Canned Vegetables

Canned (and Dried) Soups


Spices and herbs

Keep lots of dried spices and herbs on the shelf. They are generally less likely to promote heartburn, though each individual's system will respond differently. Dried/dehydrated forms of onion and garlic are more user-friendly than fresh.

Ground Cinnamon

Garlic Powder

Ground Mace


Ground Ginger





Onion Powder and Dried Onion Pieces


Note: There are several spices that are generally irritating to the gastric (stomach) lining and are especially troublesome for heartburn sufferers and their heartburn diet. The spices listed below may be troublesome for some sufferers, but pose no problem for others. The best advice is to listen to one's own body.

Black Pepper


Crushed Red Pepper Flakes


Hot Sauce

Mustard Seeds

Chili Powder


Curry Powder

Fresh Garlic (raw or cooked)


Baking supplies

Muffins and quick breads made from scratch can be made with less fat and without other troublesome ingredients such as pepper or spice. (See Whole-Wheat Corn Muffins recipe.) Whole-grain breads are made more simply with a bread machine. Here are some of the basic ingredients:

Whole-Wheat Flour

Baking Powder

Unbleached Flour

Baking Soda

Rye Flour


Wheat Bran

Cream of Tartar

Oat Bran


Vanilla Extract

Granulated Sugar

Almond Extract

Brown Sugar

Evaporated Skim Milk



Smart Heartburn Food Choices at Restaurants

While you might have already experienced heartburn after dining out, you may not know that there are some simple tips that can help alleviate, if not eliminate, heartburn brought on by a restaurant meal. Just as at home, some foods served at restaurants, such as high-fat dishes, certain spices, citrus products like tomatoes or oranges, caffeinated beverages, and chocolate can bring on heartburn.

Restaurant meals can also bring on heartburn because they tend to be higher in fat. Fat takes longer to digest, so food stays in the stomach longer and has a greater likelihood of causing problems. Restaurant portions also tend to be larger than recommended serving sizes. This increases pressure in the stomach and can cause acidic stomach contents to backsplash into the esophagusHEARTBURN GLOSSARY
Esophagus:Tube connecting the mouth to the stomach; a passageway for food; part of the digestive system.


If you suffer from heartburn, eating out can be a challenge. What ingredients did they use, how was the meal prepared, can I ask for my meal to be cooked differently? Hi, I’m Dr. Frank McGeorge for Prilosec OTC, and today we’re going to talk about things you can do to dramatically alleviate, if not eliminate, your chance of heartburn after eating in a restaurant—the sixth video in this series. We’re going to start by identifying questions you can ask about your food that will help you avoid heartburn. Then we’ll discuss portions and what preparation styles are the most heartburn friendly. Just like at home, eating certain foods might trigger heartburn and need to be avoided. Be careful if you’re eating out; restaurant menus can be deceiving. So first, ask questions to help avoid heartburn, and don’t be shy; knowledge is your belly’s friend. Your server should be able to give you key information about your meal so you can make smart, well-informed choices. One of the best questions a heartburn sufferer can ask is, “How is this dish prepared?” This tidbit of information is critical because dishes are often prepared differently than you might think. For example, steakhouses sometimes broil steaks in butter, so even though it’s broiled, it’s still more likely to trigger heartburn. Simply asking the question can help you avoid traps like these. In general, it’s best to order your dishes grilled or broiled without butter rather than fried or sautéed. And, if the dish comes with a high-fat gravy or sauce, ask for it to be served on the side. Now, soda crackers, preferably unsalted, are bland, they digest easily, and they absorb stomach acid well. They also contain bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar, which neutralize the acid. Next, watch your portions. Restaurant portions tend to be much larger than recommended serving sizes. Take this, for example: The restaurant dish is actually twice the size of a proper serving. Any extra bites increase pressure on the stomach and cause acidic juices to splash back up into the esophagus. If portion control isn’t your strong suit, ask to split your entrée with a friend, or try eating only half of what you ordered, and take the other half home. You might even want to ask the waiter to portion off half to take home before it even gets to your table. Plan ahead. Most menus can be viewed online, so don’t leave your decision until the last minute; you have a much greater likelihood of making a smart decision when you’re not under pressure. Now, for a few things on the menu that someone with heartburn can safely order: Leaner cuts of red meat, like sirloin or filet mignon, can help avoid heartburn, as opposed to T-bone or prime rib; white wine instead of red; and lighter desserts like angel food cake. Now, another tip is to have herbal tea after dinner instead of caffeine or a heavy dessert. Sage is a wonderful belly-soothing remedy, which can relieve stomach weakness that allows acid to be released back up into the esophagus. Drinking chamomile tea after meals can also relieve esophageal irritation. Remember, pay special attention to what you order; ask questions; watch portions; plan ahead. If, however, you’re doing all the right things and you’re still experiencing heartburn two or more days a week, you may have frequent heartburn, in which case, you should talk to your doctor. I’m Dr. Frank McGeorge for Prilosec OTC.

The following recommendations will help you make heartburn-smart choices when dining out.

Tips for Ordering Heartburn-Friendly Dishes at Restaurants

Questions to ask the server:

  • - How is the dish prepared?
  • - Can my menu selection be grilled or broiled instead of fried or sautéed?
  • - Does this dish come with a high-fat gravy or sauce that could be served on the side?
  • - Could I split an entrée with a friend rather than ordering a large meal on my own?

Questions to ask yourself:

  • - Does this meal contain any of my heartburn trigger foods?
  • - Will having a cocktail, beer, or glass of wine with dinner make my heartburn worse?
  • - Do I really want or need dessert, or is it just a matter of habit?

Heartburn foods to avoid:

  • - Foods that are fried, sautéed, or prepared in butter or oil
  • - High-fat side dishes such as onion rings or French fries
  • - High-fat sauces, gravies, and salad dressings
  • - Tomato-based foods and juices
  • - Caffeinated beverages such as cola and iced tea
  • - Citrus drinks such as lemonade or orange juice
  • - Alcoholic beverages
  • - Chocolate
  • - After-dinner mints (peppermint can exacerbate heartburn)

What to look for:

  • - White meat, which is lower in fat than dark meat
  • - Leaner cuts of red meat
  • - Smaller portion sizes
  • - White wine instead of red
  • - Lighter desserts, such as angel food cake


* PAM is a registered trademark of ConAgra Foods, Inc.

Article Highlights

You might know some obvious foods or drinks that aggravate your heartburn symptoms, but there is more to consider. Learn how to stock your kitchen pantry with foods to keep on hand, which ones to avoid, and how to enjoy dining out—safely.

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