Foods To Avoid When Dealing With Heartburn

October 16, 2023

Heartburn is caused by the stomach acid backing up into the esophagus and can be quite unpleasant. Since the delicate lining of the esophagus is not equipped to deal with the strong acid of the stomach, heartburn results in searing pain and chronic heartburn can actually damage the esophagus. Medication can help a little bit, but it is not always effective. Dealing with heartburn typically requires some lifestyle changes. Individuals have to stop eating food before bed and eat frequent small meals instead of one or two large meals each day. If you have heartburn, you probably need to avoid these foods.

Anything With Caffeine

Caffeine might not be an obviously problematic food for individuals with acid reflux, but the issue is most items with caffeine are highly acidic. Avoiding caffeinated foods can be surprisingly difficult. You will need to check carefully to make sure your beverages and other food items do not have caffeine. Caffeine is primarily found in coffee, tea, and dark sodas. This means there is caffeine in chocolate desserts, coffees, pumpkin spice lattes, green tea, iced black tea, and most colas. If you are a caffeine addict, it can be difficult avoid having anything with caffeine without getting blinding headaches.

The most effective way to stop consuming a lot of caffeine is to cut back gradually. Try to cut your caffeine intake in half, drink the halved amount of caffeine for three days, and then cut your intake in half again, maintain that for a few days, and continue until you are no longer drinking caffeine. This timeline may need to be adjusted based on the exact amount of caffeine being consumed.

Foods High In Fat

Fat is an issue with heartburn because fatty foods are tough to digest. Since foods high in fat take longer to digest than other types of food, fats sit in the stomach and block it up for a while. When you regularly eat fatty foods, you end up overloading your stomach and letting the acid back up into your esophagus. High-fat foods are almost everywhere, and both saturated and unsaturated forms of fat can cause digestive issues. Foods individuals may need to avoid include avocados, nuts, cheeses, bacon, steaks, chicken thighs, and certain salad dressings. To learn how to avoid foods high in fat, get used to reading labels and calculating the amounts of fat in each meal. It is fine to eat fat in moderation, but eating a large meal that is high in fat can easily end up causing heartburn.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods can be a problem for heartburn because they irritate the stomach. When you eat something spicy, the stomach may try to produce more acid to deal with whatever is spicy enough to irritate the stomach lining. The excessive amount of acid in your stomach can then end up causing problems. Not everyone has an issue with eating spicy foods, but individuals who do find their heartburn tends to start an hour or two after eating something spicy.

Fortunately, most individuals who have acid reflux triggered by spicy food do not have to avoid spicy food altogether to manage their heartburn. Most heartburn sufferers find it helpful to stop eating spicy foods for a while and then gradually reintroduce them to their diet. Eating milder versions of your favorite chilis, peppers, and hot sauces may be possible without upsetting your stomach.

Citrus Fruits

One of the most common forms of acid comes from citrus. Some individuals think they are healthy by having a glass of orange juice at breakfast or eating grapefruit for a snack. Unfortunately, the reality is citrus is typically very acidic. Like other types of acidic food, citrus fruits cause issues by increasing the overall amount of acid in the stomach. Keep in mind the acidity levels are not the same in all types of citrus fruits. Some individuals may find they can tolerate mandarins and oranges but cannot handle grapefruits or lemons. Experiment with different types of citrus to see which ones are a problem for you. Another issue with citrus fruits is they are typically quite fibrous. Fiber stays in the stomach for longer, and since it prevents gastric emptying, it is easier for the stomach to back up into the esophagus and cause heartburn.


Most individuals assume tomatoes are healthy since they are a form of fresh produce individuals can eat in many dishes. Unfortunately, tomatoes may not be a good option for individuals who have heartburn. The problem with a tomato is that is a fairly acidic fruit. All of this acid can cause problems and increase the amount of stomach acid you produce to even more problematic levels. Having a tomato as a trigger for heartburn is a little unusual because whether or not the item triggers heartburn may depend on its preparation method. Some individuals have an issue with cooked tomatoes while others find their heartburn only acts up when they have fresh tomatoes.

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