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Living with GERD is no fun, right? Not only do you have to be careful to avoid cooking with trigger foods at home, it can become especially frustrating to comb through a restaurant menu to find heartburn-friendly options that work for you. Yes, restaurants can be minefields for acid reflux triggers, but you don’t have to completely give up on dining out! With some research and a little bit of planning, it is possible to enjoy a nice, relaxing meal at your favorite restaurant with friends and family and not having to worry about dealing with any heartburn symptoms at all!
This first step is pretty much common sense, right? Sadly, many of us love our heartburn trigger foods so much, we’d rather risk an acid-reflux attack than feel ‘deprived’. Our advice – DON’T. Dining out is about relaxing and enjoying a meal; it’s not just about the food you eat, it’s also about the experience. Risking heartburn trigger foods will ruin the experience for you, and quite frankly, it’s not worth it. Some heartburn trigger foods best avoided at restaurants are:
If you absolutely must indulge, share the dish with your dinner companions and limit yourself to just a few bites.
And that brings us to our second tip – portion control. While its recommended to eat smaller, more frequent meals for anyone suffering from GERD, this is especially important when you’re dining out and don’t have complete control over the ingredients that make up your meal. Overeating is a sure fire way to exacerbate heartburn symptoms, as eating too much too soon puts extra stress on the digestive system. Additionally, it doesn’t help that most restaurants offer super-sized servings to please their customers by giving them more value for their money. Try these simple portion-control tips to indulge in a scrumptious meal without worrying about dealing with GERD symptoms later.
The best strategy to avoid heartburn is to steer clear of your GERD triggers. When dining out, it’s important to take your time when placing your order. Talk to the server and ask how a dish is prepared. Ask how the meat is cooked, if the meal is served with veggies on the side, what kind of fats are used for cooking etc. Once you have all the information you need, order your way by making GERD-friendly choices. You’d be surprised to find out that many good restaurants will happily go out of their way to customize your meal and enhance your dining experience! Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Some foods are worse for acid reflux, when compared to others. However, the good news here is that you can choose GERD-friendly options with most cuisines, as long as you know what to order and what to avoid. Here are some tips:
Now there are certain foods that are BEST avoided if you suffer from acid reflux. And while heartburn triggers vary from person to person, these 5 offenders are best avoided by anyone and everyone with GERD.
Like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and white vinegar. They aren’t offering you any nutritional value either!
Avoid grapefruit, lemons, limes and oranges in any form, be it a fruity dish, a salad, or meat/fish cooked and basted with a citrusy sauce.
Avoid all fatty cuts of meats like steaks, sausages or prime ribs. Dishes with added cream or cheese or those cooked in lard or butter are also best avoided.
If it’s ‘fried’, its best avoided. This holds true for fries, onion rings, fried dumplings and even fried crispy chicken or vegetables.
Anything with hot sauce, hot peppers, wasabi, salsa, red or green chilies is best avoided.
Is your dinner company enjoying a few cocktails before the main course? This is the time you sit down to drink a tall glass of water! Drinking water half an hour before your meal does wonders to combat heartburn, as it revs up your digestive fire. Water flushes away any remnant acids from your stomach, giving your gut the confidence to produce highly concentrated stomach acids that will easily digest your indulgent meal. Also, water creates a buffer to protect the stomach lining from being irritated by stomach acids.
Remember to take no more than a few sips of water along with a meal, that’s if you must. And don’t drink any water post meal for at least 30 minutes.
Eating out is all about relaxing, unwinding after a tiring day/week at work and having a great experience while enjoying the company of friends and family. These additional tips will help enhance your experience:
Certain indulgences go hand in hand with dining out – for example, dessert, ingesting extra-calories and alcohol. Try not to worry about them! As long as you walk away from your meal feeling good, with happy memories and no heartburn symptoms in sight, and you don’t make a habit of eating out every other day, you’re good!