When heartburn sufferers talk about food, they usually talk about what they can't eat, not about what they can eat. That's because the worst trigger foods-fats, spices, citrus-can lead to painful symptoms.

When determining foods that won't aggravate your symptoms, the first thing to do is to assess their ingredients. In that case, it's best to cook at home, where you're less likely to be enticed by a dark-meat chicken dish, with a side of mashed potatoes, and a chocolate brownie for dessert. And try incorporating the following heartburn-friendly foods into your diet:

  • Apple products. They can be fresh, dried, or in juice form. It's common to think of apple products as being harmful because of the saying "apples and oranges", but try this saying instead: "oranges are acidic and apples are safe".
  • Potatoes-baked. The butter and fat found in mashed potatoes can lead to heartburn. A baked potato, on the other hand, lets you enjoy this vegetable.
  • Chicken-white and skinless. Breaded and fried means more fat, which means more heartburn.
  • Cheese. Feta cheese, which is a great addition to salads, is okay, as are cream cheese on bagels and sour cream on burritos. Just make sure they're fat-free.
  • Eggs. Well, egg whites. You don't have to miss out on your morning omelet-just make sure you opt for the egg whites and ditch the yokes.
  • Cookies. These are fine; just buy the fat-free ones. They'll retain their sweet taste, but will be healthier and less likely to lead to heartburn.

However, going out to dinner isn't out of the question. The good news is that if you know how to navigate a restaurant, you need not miss a friend's birthday celebration.

Pat Baird, a nutrition consultant and National Heartburn Alliance board member, offers some insight into how to find and tweak your favorite foods into being heartburn-safe.

  • Italian restaurants. 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.
  • Mexican restaurants. 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.
  • Chinese restaurants. 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 entrées with beef and a vegetable like broccoli, shrimp, or mushrooms. Go with brown rice, and don't hesitate to eat the fortune cookie.