If you suffer from heartburn, eating out can be a challenge. Having to worry about what ingredients were used, how the meal was prepared, and asking for your meal to be cooked differently can make the experience loathsome. Here are some things you can do to alleviate, if not eliminate, your chances of heartburn after eating in a restaurant.
Restaurant menus can be deceiving at first, so 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 is critical because some menu items are prepared differently than how you’d think. For example, some steakhouses broil their steaks in butter. Even though it’s broiled, it’s still likely to trigger heartburn. It’s best to order your dishes grilled or broiled without butter rather than fried or sautéed. If your dish comes with a high fat gravy or sauce, ask for it to be served on the side.
Complement Your Meal with Soda Crackers
Soda crackers, preferably unsalted, are bland, they digest easily, and they absorb stomach acid as well. They also contain bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar, which neutralize the acid.
Watch Your Portions
Restaurant portions tend to be much larger than recommended serving sizes. The typical restaurant dish is 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 only eating half of what you ordered and take the other half home. You might even want to ask your waiter to portion off half before the meal gets to your table.
Most menus can be viewed online, so don’t leave your decision until the last minute. You have a greater likelihood of making a smarter decision when you’re not under pressure.
Order Heartburn-Friendly Foods
Here are some suggested foods for someone with heartburn to 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 wine.
- Lighter desserts like angel food cake.
- Herbal tea after dinner instead of caffeine or heavy dessert. Sage is a wonderful belly-soothing remedy that can relieve stomach weakness and allows acid to be released back into down the esophagus. Drinking chamomile tea after meals can also relieve esophageal irritation.
Pay special attention to what you order. Ask questions, watch portions, and 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.