Dining Out Options with GERD

Who doesn’t enjoy eating out or getting take-out?

Whether it is a social outing, a date night, or your schedule is busy and you don’t have time to make every single meal from scratch, it is nice to have the option of eating out on the town. Having GERD can make it difficult to find options that won’t cause a negative reaction. 

GERD can be a short-term condition or a chronic long-term condition where the sphincter that opens and closes between your esophagus and stomach does not close all the way. When this happens food, fluid, and stomach acid flow back up into the esophagus, which can cause inflammation of the esophagus, but more commonly heartburn/indigestion.

The number one culprit is consuming fatty foods as they take the longest to digest and sit in your stomach causing continued production of stomach acid. Other foods to avoid are mint (peppermint and spearmint), acidic or spicy foods, chocolate, alcohol, and caffeine. Consider this when picking out where you want to dine.  

So, after eating that delicious slice of pizza covered in all its cheesy and pepperoni goodness, you may pay for it with pain, discomfort, and the vow to never eat it again. 

So what can you eat if you aren’t making it yourself? 

You can start by recognizing foods that trigger your GERD. Below is a helpful compilation of those foods, but you may want to maintain a food journal to track trigger meals or foods so you are better equipped to make an enjoyable, pain free meal. 

The foods & beverages listed here are the common heavyweight champs of reflux triggers:

AVOID: 

Cheese-potent foods such as grilled cheese, Panini, or melts. Soups like chili or those that have a cream base should also be avoided. Also, anything citrus including beverages, fruits, or dishes composed of a lot of them. 

Of course fried foods are a main item to stay away from, like hamburgers, fried chicken, fried fish, French fries, and other fried side dishes. Sauces and salad dressings that are high-fat, including toppings such as gravy or mayonnaise. 

Individual foods that may cause GERD response would be onions, peppers, tomato based foods, chocolate, or foods prepared with a lot of butter or oil. 

Beverages that need to be avoided are all carbonated drinks (soda, sparkling water), alcohol (beer, wine, and liquor), and those containing caffeine (coffee, tea, and iced tea).

CHOOSE THESE ITEMS INSTEAD: 

Broth-based soups, grilled foods, lean cuts or white meat, steamed vegetables, baked potatoes. For toppings and sauces, choose those that are low or no-fat options. Sandwiches should be made with lean deli meats (turkey, chicken, roast beef) on whole grain. 

I have also included some common cuisines with better choice options you can pick from in order to enjoy your favorite flavor without feeling restricted by your GERD. 

Keep in mind if the portions are large, take some home or share the meal with someone. Do not be afraid to ask for substitutions or alterations!

Mexican – 

Broth based soup, fajitas, grilled chicken or fish, low-fat refried beans and rice, mild guacamole, tortillas, Burritos with grilled chicken, steak, or fish. 

Italian/Mediterranean

This is the most challenging, but hopefully with this guide you can still enjoy it. Stick to dishes with grilled meat, poultry, or fish using little to no cheese or sauce. 

Soups such as minestrone, or pasta fagioli, pasta “en brodo” (light broth based sauce) or primavera without sauce. 

Veal or chicken in light mushroom sauce and vegetables without garlic or too much olive oil. You can also choose risotto or polenta dishes made with vegetables (no butter and cheese).

Asian

(It should be noted that most Asian vegetables are FODMAP friendly) Brown rice, Stir-fried or steamed dishes cooked with wine or lobster sauce, steamed dumplings. 

Wonton soup, dishes made with vegetables in a light sauce or sauces thickened with broth or cornstarch. 

Entrees such as beef with broccoli, velvet chicken, or shrimp with mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Fortune cookies make a great dessert that is yummy and entertaining.

Reference sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harvard Health Publishing, Dropping Acid “The Reflux Diet Cookbook”

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