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Dining Out Guide for Heartburn Sufferers

Eating at Chinese, Mexican, and Italian Restaurants

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Updated May 12, 2008

Dining out at your favorite Chinese, Mexican, or Italian restaurants can mean be more difficult when you have less control over your meal options. Sometimes the food served at these restaurants can contain more ingredients that can trigger your heartburn. If you aren't sure what your trigger foods are, keeping a food record can be a good way to find out what foods trigger your heartburn. But knowing you should avoid and what is okay to eat before you dine out can mean an enjoyable meal that won't exacerbate your heartburn.

Remember, avoid foods that trigger your heartburn. It is important to avoid fried foods and spices. If you aren't sure what is in a dish or how the dish is prepared, don't be afraid to ask. Also, don't be afraid to request alterations or substitutions if any dish contains elements that can cause heartburn.

Here are some suggestions for dining out at one of the following specific types of restaurants:

Chinese Restaurants and Your Acid Reflux Diet

What you shouldn't eat:
  • Breaded and fried entrees
  • Egg rolls
  • Ribs
  • Sauces thickened with eggs and butter
  • Hot and sour soup.
  • Crispy deep-fried noodles
  • Overly spicy dishes
  • Sweet and sour dishes
What is better to eat:
  • Entrees such as beef with broccoli, velvet chicken or shrimp with mushrooms and bamboo shoots
  • Wonton soup
  • Steamed dumplings
  • Brown rice
  • Dishes made with vegetables in a light sauce
  • Stir-fried or steamed dishes with light wine or lobster sauces
  • Sauces thickened with broth and corn starch
  • Fortune cookies for dessert

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Mexican Restaurants and Your Acid Reflux Diet

What you shouldn't eat:
  • Chimichangas
  • Chorizo (Mexican sausage)
  • Fried tortilla chips
  • Deep fried tortilla chips and taco shells
  • Cheese and sour cream toppings
  • Refried beans
  • Chile peppers
  • Salsa, tomato, and onions
  • Mole (chocolate) sauce
  • Flan, or other rich desserts
  • Sangria and margaritas
What is better to eat:
  • Grilled chicken or fish
  • Low-fat refried beans and rice
  • Fajitas
  • Burritos
  • Tortillas
  • Mild Guacamole on a flour tortilla
  • Broth-based soups
  • Dishes prepared with herbs such as cumin and cilantro

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Italian Restaurants and Your Acid Reflux Diet

What you shouldn't eat:
  • Heavy tomato or cream sauces
  • Pizza toppings such as double cheese, lots of sauce, sausage and pepperoni, hot peppers
  • Oil-based salad dressings
  • Antipastos with cheese, salami, and spicy peppers
  • Anything carbonara (cream, cheese, and bacon)
  • Anything parmigiana (fried, smothered in tomato sauce and mozzarella)
  • Any foods prepared with lots of garlic and spices
  • Rich, heavy desserts, such as cheesecake or tiramisu
What is better to eat:
  • Dishes with little or no cheese
  • Veal or chicken in a light mushroom sauce
  • Grilled meat, poultry, or fish.
  • Pasta "en brodo," which is a light broth-type sauce
  • Minestrone (vegetable) or pasta fagioli (macaroni and bean) soups
  • Vegetable side dishes without garlic or too much olive oil
  • Pasta primavera without sauce
  • Risotto or polenta dishes made with vegetables, not butter and cheese
  • Pasta in broth-based sauce
  • Vegetables with no garlic
  • Pizza with little sauce and cheese
  • Biscotti - crunchy Italian cookies - for dessert
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