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January 18, 2022  

Reflux Disease: How to Leave an Unwelcome Restaurant Companion at Home

Acid reflux, a common problem for many people today, has a number of troubling symptoms. Sufferers will list familiar complaints that include but are not limited to stomach pain, discomfort, and various digestive symptoms such as heartburn or sour stomach. But what some do not realize � at least until the condition effects them or a person they love � is that the symptoms of acid reflux can also mean that many sufferers have to seriously limit their social activities so that they can plan their diets around preventing symptoms.

Since a wide range of foods can cause a flare-up, some sufferers live in fear of eating out with friends or loved ones or going to social gatherings where food will be served for fear of having an embarrassing and unpredictable bout of symptoms and having to cut the outing short.

But the truth is, simply staying informed about what foods are on the �yes list� and what foods can cause hours of symptoms can help sufferers make great strides in renewing their Epicurean tendencies. Once patients know the dos and don�ts, they can make informed decisions about what will keep them comfortable, while still enjoying the convenience and fun of eating out.

Foods that tend to cause problems for many sufferers may include:

  • Foods and beverages high in acid, such as colas, coffee, tea, tomato products, vinegar, citrus fruits and juices, and cranberry juice.
  • Foods high in fat, such as fried foods, chicken nuggets, ground beef, dairy products containing whole milk and cream, creamy salad dressings, and chocolate.
  • Liquor, including wine and beer.
  • Raw onions and hot peppers.
  • Pasta and noodles with sauce, mashed potatoes (baked potatoes are less problematic), and mac �n cheese.

    It can also be a good idea to keep a food diary, recording what is eaten and when, and the effect, if any, it had. If any foods seem to repeatedly connect to symptoms, they should be avoided.

    Tips for Restaurant Dining

    Asian Foods: Instead of fatty, noodle-filled dishes like lo-mein and pad tai, opt for steamed rice with savory sauces, white-meat chicken, and a medley of fresh veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, green beans, and peas, all of which are common (and tasty!) in Asian cooking, and have little potential to exacerbate symptoms. Soups with vegetables and clear broth, like wonton soup, are also good options, as are favorites such as beef with broccoli, chicken with straw mushrooms and bamboo shoots and steamed dumplings. And go ahead and have a fortune cookie for dessert � they�re low in fat and don�t contain any other risky ingredients!

    Pub Foods: Go for the London Broil with a few saut�ed onions on top and a baked potato with low-fat sour cream and no chives. Oven-baked meatloaf made with low-fat ground beef and steamed green beans is also a good choice, as long as it comes with a broth-based gravy instead of tomato sauce. Depending on the severity of reflux symptoms, fried seafood such as haddock, cod, or scallops, as well as a low-fat hot dog with a few dabs of sauerkraut can also be an occasional treat.

    French: Although the brie and foie gras may be tempting, remember that these foods are very high in fat and could cause a lot of discomfort later! Instead, go for veal or chicken with mushrooms and light, tomato- and vinegar-free sauces, lean cuts of beef with savory roasted vegetables, and a crepe with bananas or apple and powdered sugar, instead of lemon, orange liquor or whipped cream. Bon appetit !

    Mexican/Latin American: Avoid things smothered in cheese, tomato salsas, spicy guacamole, and sangria or margaritas, which contain citrus and alcohol and are highly acidic. Mole sauce, though tempting, contains chocolate and peppers, two foods that are on the no-list. Instead go for mild guacamole, low-fat rice and beans, grilled chicken and fish, tortillas, burritos, fajitas, and dishes containing cilantro and cumin, which are still packed with flavor but less likely to irritate. �Buen provecho!

    Italian: Don�t order the carbonara, the arrabiata (spicy!), or parmigiana dishes, which are filled with irritating foods from almost every category, and instead try a minestrone, Italian wedding, or pasta e fagioli soup, or a baked polenta appetizer followed by pasta or risotto prepared in a broth-based sauce, vegetable-topped pizza with just a little sauce and cheese, or pasta primavera without the sauce. Finish with biscotti or a seasonal fruit salad, and you can mange like a true Italian!

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