If you suffer from frequent heartburn, friendly foods and basic changes to your diet can do much to help relieve the discomfort. The types of food we eat, the way we prepare and cook them, and even what we do following the meal can impact the likelihood that we will experience heartburn.
It is important to recognize which foods seem to result in heartburn for each person, because triggers are different for everyone. Even so, there are many categories of food that almost all heartburn sufferers share. Foods that are not heartburn friendly are either high in fat, high in acid, contain a lot of spices, or a combination of these three. Beverages that are carbonated or contain a lot of caffeine can also cause heartburn.
Heartburn Friendly Foods based on Ingredients
As mentioned above, heartburn friendly foods avoid things that we know are commonly the triggers of heartburn. Some of the most commonly offensive foods include citrus fruits, including juices; raw onions; fatty meats, such as ground beef and marbled cuts of meat; dairy products, including whole milk and most yogurts; and oily or fatty foods, such as salad dressing, mayonnaise, and potato chips.
Heartburn friendly foods are those that either avoid the trigger ingredients for an individual or at least limit the amount of trigger ingredients used in the preparation of meals. There are quite a few heartburn friendly foods and ingredients that can replace offending food in an individual’s diet.
Dairy is a trigger food in most people because of fat content, but low-fat and no-fat varieties of cream cheese, goat cheese, sour cream, and raw yogurt are more heartburn friendly foods.
Fruits that are generally safe for heartburn sufferers include apples and bananas. Raw apples are also beneficial in treating heartburn symptoms for some people.
Vegetables are generally heartburn friendly foods, provided that they are prepared without oil and too many spices. Consider incorporating more vegetable into your diet through potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, beans, and peas.
Meats that are heartburn friendly are difficult to find in some regions, but it is worth the extra effort if this is one of your heartburn triggers. Lean ground beef and cuts of beef, fish, and skinless poultry are usually non-offensive.
Grains are heartburn friendly foods as long as they are less processed and you do not have an intolerance to gluten. Bleached white flour can cause heartburn in some people, but whole grain breads, pasta, and cereals are generally safe. White or brown rice and oatmeal are generally regarded as heartburn friendly as well.
Other foods that fall into categories such as condiments, dressings, or sauces should follow the general rules of trigger foods. For example, low-fat salad dressing, low-fat mayonnaise, and low-fat cheese sauces are more heartburn friendly (in moderation) than regular oil-based or milk-based salad dressings that are high in fat and red tomato sauces that are high in acid.
Heartburn Friendly Foods based on Cooking Method
Even if you choose all of the right ingredients of heartburn friendly food, heartburn can still happen if the food is not prepared thoughtfully. For example, a breaded chicken breast contains very little ingredients that are known to trigger heartburn. (Bleached flour can cause heartburn in some individuals.) However, the cooking method matters. If the chicken is baked, it is less likely to cause heartburn. If it is fried in grease, it suddenly becomes a “fatty food” and is widely known to cause heartburn in some people.
Heartburn friendly foods are best cooked according to one of the following methods, to avoid the unintentional addition of a heartburn triggering element to your diet.
Broiling – Broiling is a great way to cook fish and some vegetables. The food is cooked quickly and to a crisp, if desired.
Baking – Baking is a great way to achieve tender, juicy heartburn friendly foods. Baking meat slowly and with a lid can result in a tender cut that is comparable to deep-fried meats. Baking vegetables with non-offending flavors and moderate spices can add depth to a dish without compromising its heartburn friendly status.
Steaming – Steamed vegetables are the most nutritionally complete according to most health experts. The flavors of vegetables are retained well and a larger portion of the heartburn friendly food’s vitamins and minerals remain intact. This isn’t true of extended cooking methods such as baking and boiling.
Pan Frying – Pan frying heartburn friendly foods without using oil can help to eliminate some of the fats in meats. Lean ground beef still contains some elements of fat, so pan frying will allow you to cook most of it out of the meat and drain it away. (Think hamburgers!)
Boiling – Boiling might seem like a bland way to cook foods, but when you incorporate the right blend of heartburn friendly foods it can be tasty. Soups are generally safe as long as the ingredients are, so instead of thinking about how bland boiled potatoes are, consider how tasty potatoes boiled in a low-fat chicken stock will taste. (White rice in chicken stock is also a tasty side dish.)
Eating heartburn friendly foods doesn’t have to mean eating boring food. There are plenty of recipe resources that can be found on the web and in book stores for using any of these cooking methods to prepare foods that are far less likely to trigger symptoms of acid reflux. Be open to trying new heartburn remedies and ways of preparing your favorite foods and you might find that some heartburn friendly food recipes will be among your favorites.