Do you suffer from heartburn after eating? If so, you are not alone. Heartburn is most common directly after eating a meal; this is especially true if you have eaten a large meal. There are quite a few reasons one might experience heartburn after eating. Over-eating, eating certain kinds of food, and physical activities can all contribute to heartburn.
Heartburn symptoms can also be a chronic condition if you are pregnant, have hiatal hernia, or a damaged esophagus. There is good news, though. You may be able to prevent heartburn after eating (or at least limit its severity) by understanding how heartburn happens and knowing what you can do about it.
Understanding How Food Triggers Heartburn after Eating
Heartburn is a burning sensation behind the breastbone or inside of your throat. When we experience heartburn after eating, what we are actually feeling is the effect of stomach acids that have risen up from the stomach and into the esophagus, a process otherwise known as acid reflux. Normally, a muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) prevents this from happening by sealing off the lower part of the esophagus after we’ve swallowed something. Sometimes the LES doesn’t close and that’s how acid reflux can occur.
Consuming food and drink causes the stomach to produce acids that help us to digest what we have swallowed. Certain types of food cause our stomachs to produce more of the acid and put us at a greater risk of heartburn after eating. In some cases, the LES is weak or damaged and doesn’t stop the acid from leaking into the esophagus; this is the case with hiatal hernia. Sometimes gastric pressure causes acids to be forced into the esophagus. Gastric pressure can occur when we wear tight clothing, bend over after eating, when lying down after eating, or because of an expanded uterus during pregnancy. Over-eating causes heartburn after eating because the stomach stretches, making it harder for the LES to do its job.
How to Lessen the Risk of Heartburn after Eating
Since acid reflux is caused by stomach acids entering into the esophagus, the best way to treat heartburn is to prevent that from happening. This can be accomplished by being mindful of the habits that cause us to experience heartburn after eating a meal. We can avoid bending over, lying down directly after we eat, or wearing a tight belt. We can avoid over eating or chew antacids after eating certain foods. Perhaps the easiest and most effective ways to prevent heartburn involve avoiding the foods that trigger heartburn after eating in the first place.
Foods to Avoid if You Experience Heartburn after Eating
The best way to prevent heartburn after eating is to simply avoid the foods that can trigger heartburn or only consume offending foods in moderation. Each person is different, so you may not experience heartburn for the same reasons as another. There are well-known trigger foods and drinks that can be avoided to prevent heartburn after eating. If possible, try to avoid fatty and spicy foods as well as those that contain the following ingredients: alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, citrus, tomato, some types of mint, and carbonation.
Here are some of the foods you should try to avoid whenever possible to help prevent heartburn after eating:
- Acidic fruits, juices, or sauces – Orange, grapefruit, lemon, cranberry, and tomato
- Fatty foods – ground beef, marbled cuts of meat, sour cream, whole milk products, full-fat cottage cheese, salad dressings, and oils
- Spicy foods – Containing hot sauce and other seasonings such as hot wings or spicy chili
- Also avoid consuming raw onions, coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages, and any carbonated drink as these can cause more acid production.
Natural Remedies for Heartburn after Eating
If you are unable to avoid the cause of heartburn, there are some remedies that may help to stop acid reflux or significantly reduce the severity of the episode. Not every remedy will work for every person in the same way that not every food item will cause heartburn for every person. Once you have discovered a remedy that works however, you can save tons on antacids and over-the-counter medications. The remedies below can help mitigate heartburn after eating and can work for those with a hiatal hernia, those who are pregnant, or even those who have GERD.
- Mustard – A tablespoon of mustard taken alone or with crackers may stop heartburn after eating if spicy foods do not cause you to feel heartburn.
- Apples or Apple Cider Vinegar – A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar take directly after the meal can help to calm stomach acids. It can be taken alone or mixed in with a drink. (Just be sure the drink isn’t the cause of heartburn.) Raw sliced apples are also known to soothe heartburn.
- Blanched Almonds – Chewing up to 8 almonds can have a soothing effect on heartburn. Just be sure to chew them well and avoid swallowing too much air.
- Unsalted Soda Crackers – Soda crackers contain bicarbonate soda that neutralizes acids.
- Iberogast – Iberogast is a diet supplement composed of many herbs that can work to significantly reduce heartburn after eating. Because iberogast contains peppermint, people who are sensitive to mint may not have favorable results with this remedy.
- Chewing Gum – Gum chewing produces saliva, a natural acid buffer. It also instigates more swallowing, which pushes acids back down into the stomach where they belong. Avoid gum that contains natural citrus fruit juices and mint flavors.