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Top 25 Summer Heartburn Triggers

Don't Get Burned by These Summer Favorites

-- By Nicole Nichols, Health Educator
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If tomatoes don't bother you but spices do, go for mild salsa. If you want a dip for your chips without the spice or the tomato, try mashed avocado.

13. Ice cream
This dairy food can cause issues for many people and can be high in fat. Steer clear especially of mint and chocolate flavors, which can both trigger symptoms.
Sorbet is dairy-free, fruity and sweet!

14. Iced coffee
Coffee and the caffeine it contains can trigger heartburn.
Try iced tea instead, which contains far less caffeine.

15. Ketchup and mustard
Ketchup is tomato-based (a heartburn trigger) while mustard contains another trigger—vinegar.
Get creative with your sandwich toppers. Try hummus, fresh herbs, low-fat mayo or a favorite low-fat salad dressing.

16. Lemon meringue pie
Citrus fruits can cause heartburn.

17. Lemonade
Made with an acidic citrus fruit
Try apple juice or chilled water with just a touch of lemon.

18. Pickles
Made with vinegar, a common trigger
Try sweet relish instead. 

19. Pineapple
An acidic food
Try mango or papaya, which can aid digestion.

20. Potato chips with ranch dip
Both can be high in fat, while many dips are dairy-based

21. Root beer floats
Root beer is carbonated while ice cream is a common trigger (due to dairy and fat content).

22. Salad dressing
Many can be high in fat and contain herbs and spices (like garlic) that are triggers.
Go for low-fat salad dressings that are light on garlic and spices.

23. Sauerkraut
Not for people sensitive to vinegar

24. Tomatoes
An acidic food and common trigger

25. Watermelon
An acidic fruit that can cause digestive distress
Fresh summer fruits abound. Just avoid acidic and citrus ones.

While the foods listed above are common heartburn culprits, others can eat some (or all) of them without problems. Keeping a heartburn journal can help you narrow down your unique list of triggers, just as eating smaller meals dining more slowly can also help. Here's to cool summer fare that doesn't leave you feeling burned!
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

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Member Comments

  • I had terrible reflux disease and ended up having surgery for it. Certain foods...not the problem. The problem was the sphincter between my stomach and esophagus never closed...been that way since I was a tiny child. Certain foods can relax the sphincter so it is something to keep in mind for those who have reflux. - 7/3/2013 8:39:03 AM
  • A lot of times, acid reflux is caused by NOT ENOUGH acid in the stomach. I tried the Braggs apple cider vinegar for a few days and have been reflux free for 3 years. Now I don't have any triggers. :) - 6/30/2013 11:44:22 PM
  • I never knew that watermelon was acidic! I have acid reflux, so I need to keep a heartburn journal and figure out my triggers. I love grilled onions and peppers, so I need to watch for those :( - 6/30/2013 9:16:17 PM
  • Although it isn't a "summer" food, my #1 trigger wasn't on the list: PIZZA - 6/30/2013 3:32:47 PM
  • Having read this list I am so glad that I don't suffer from heartburn too often. A lot of these are family favs for summer gatherings. I will portion control everything...LOL - 6/30/2013 1:09:22 PM
  • What gets me is that this is almost everything I love and look forward to with summer. The pickles, watermelon, tomato, ice coffee.....just goes into having to feel like I am depriving myself of all the things I enjoy to eat. My problem is that I don't get heartburn, well I do but I just don't feel it. Once after an EDG I argued with the Dr who told me I was having heartburn that I don't get heartburn, he then said "well your esophagus says otherwise." How I know I have had heartburn is when I eat, I will get a lump, swelling in my throat and regurgitate the food back up, sometimes its not even food but liquid and/or saliva. When I was younger it was very bad since I didn't know what it was and I used to joke that I could just be bulimic with how often food was coming up. Just wished the doctors I saw could of diagnosed this back when I was developing it when I was 12 and not when I was 22, but can't change the past, oh well. - 6/30/2013 10:14:19 AM
  • ASAYE001
    I have been suffering the most horrible heartburn-- without eating ANYTHING!! Now, for example. No food since breakfast. But burning in breastbone area for over an hour. Feels like I have an aspirin stuck, but I have not swallowed ANYTHING! I did just find out my eosinophils are high (after Drs office ignored a 2- month cough that sent me begging for mercy at the ER). No prior heartburn nor Gerd issues. HELP It burns and squeezes between breast ones like heartburn, but DOWN to top of stomach, not UP like heartburn... - 6/9/2013 7:55:15 PM
  • JOANTHOMAS215
    When I get heart burn I take a tablespoon of organic apple cider and it is gone within five minutes. You would think the acid in this would make it worse but it works every time.
    Joan - 1/9/2013 12:37:54 PM
  • My ENT told me that tomatoes weren't really a trigger. They don't seem to trigger my GERD. Chocolate always gave me bad heartburn while pregnant. Salsa and spicy foods don't set it off all the time either.

    Over-eating is a big trigger. - 7/24/2012 9:00:06 PM
  • MRSDOLL1
    Very good advice. I like the Eat this not that theme. - 5/5/2012 9:45:33 PM
  • Its so coincidental to know I have a serious heartburn tonight. It is subsiding with lots of water. I took beans - 5/5/2012 5:22:03 PM
  • I haven't had heartburn since I have lost 50+ pounds and am eating right!!! - 5/5/2012 3:13:13 PM
  • It's ironic that some foods like peppers are healthy for some and cause heartburn for others. If these foods don't bother you, you may be off the hook. The best advice in the article is to record what you've eaten so that you will know your triggers. Also eating smaller meals more often helps your body to break down the food. The "what to avoid" list does not apply to everyone, so if it is not a trigger for you,don't worry, be happy. - 7/8/2011 6:28:17 PM
  • SERBEAR95
    Vanilla ice cream is my go to to soothe heart burn! I didn't flavored ice cream could cause problems! - 7/8/2011 3:15:16 PM
  • Disappointing article. Lots of don't eat this but not much help with alternatives to trigger foods. - 7/8/2011 2:49:40 PM