When eating out be aware of what you are ordering, ask the waiting staff what ingredients are included in the dish.  By knowing what aggravates your heartburn, select and order your meals based on what you enjoy that will not trigger any discomfort. You can enjoy eating out without getting heartburn by specifying the ingredients and preparation.

Pat Baird, nutrition consultant and National Heartburn Alliance board member, has recommendations on how to brave the choppy dining waters. Consider the following your guide to eating out with heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Basics Incorporate the habits you have at home into your routine when ordering out.

  • Order food grilled or broiled, stay away from fried or sautéed
  • Limit your alcohol to one drink or can of beer
  • When ordering sides, stay away from dishes with a lot of butter or cheese
  • Focus on foods prepared with herbs and spices and not heavy sauces
  • Instead of a rich dessert try fruit or sorbet

Specifics Here is Baird’s advice for how to navigate the menus of three of the most popular types of restaurants.

1) Italian Seek out dishes that have little or no cheese. Pasta should be “en brood” (which means a light, broth-type sauce); veal or chicken can have a light mushroom sauce; and for dessert try biscotti.

2) Mexican Make guacamole on flour tortillas your appetizer. Fajitas are a good meal choice because they’re grilled. Low-fat refried beans and rice should be options as well, and the herbs cumin and cilantro are okay.

3) Chinese Do not gorge on a plate of heartburn-inducing General Tso’s Chicken: you will get heartburn. Instead try vegetable dishes with light sauce, or entrees with beef and a vegetable like broccoli, shrimp, or mushrooms. Go with brown rice, and don’t hesitate to eat the fortune cookie.