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An Acid-Reflux Guide to Eating Out

When you're at home you have total control over what you're eating. When venturing out, however, avoiding reflux trigger foods is harder.

When you know where you're going to eat, do a few minutes of online research. Take the time to examine the menu and decide what you're going to have before you get to the restaurant. Pay attention to the ingredients as well as how the food will be prepared. And don't be afraid to call ahead and ask questions. Do your best to avoid these universal troublemakers:

  • Spicy foods

  • Fatty foods

  • Acidic fruits

  • High-fat dairy

  • Alcohol

  • Carbonated drinks

Also, be sure to choose your restaurant wisely. Although most restaurants have options that won't impact your reflux, selecting a place that serves only fried foods is a recipe for discomfort.

Keep in mind that each type of food you select will have its own set of ingredients to avoid. For instance, Mexican food tends to use lots of tomatoes, onions, and garlic, and the technique of frying, all of which can spell trouble for reflux. Instead, look for grilled options, lowfat rice and beans, burritos, or soups. And be careful with that guacamole. Although avocadoes are super healthy, some of the other ingredients in guac, such as onion, garlic, and chili peppers, can be dangerous if you have reflux.

If you're eating Italian, the biggest troublemaker will be tomatoes. Try switching to an Alfredo sauce instead of tomato sauce on your pasta. But be careful, because Alfredo sauce is high in fat (and possibly garlic), so keep the portions small. Also, avoid foods with lots of cheese. Pizza is a decent option, but be careful about the toppings. Look for lean meats such as veal, chicken, or fish. Minestrone and fagioli soups are also great options that won't inflame your reflux, but ask your server about whether they're high in garlic or onion.

If you're going out for Asian food, fried foods and spices will be your biggest troublemakers. Avoid deep-fried food such as tempura. Steamed vegetables or rice are always good options. You'll also have to watch out for onions and garlic, both very common ingredients in Asian cuisine. Make sure to lay off the spice as well. No matter how good that five-alarm chicken may sound, you'll only regret it later when your reflux kicks in. Stir-fries or steamed dishes are good alternatives.

Regardless of what type of cuisine you select, be careful with your portions. How much you eat can be just as important as what you eat when it comes to reflux. It's easy to control portions at home, but at a restaurant you can end up overeating when a giant plate of delicious food is put right in front of you.

Consider a to-go box with your meal. If you tend to keep going well past fullness, take the time to put the extra food in the to-go box before you start eating. This will give you control over your portions and prevent you from continuing to graze while waiting for the check.

Eating out doesn't have to give you reflux as long as you think ahead.

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