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  • Writer's pictureCO Voice Clinic

Fight Acid Reflux - 7 Summer Food Swaps to Avoid Reflux without Ruining Your Summer BBQ

Updated: Dec 21, 2018

Caused by stomach acid flowing back up into the esophagus, acid reflux is not only uncomfortable, but can be a detriment to your professional voice.

The most common causes of acid reflux are related to consuming large amounts of food that are high in acid and fat, eating heavily before bed, alcohol or carbonated beverages, or taking certain muscle relaxers, ibuprofen or aspirin.

Basically, everything you did over your 4th of July weekend (or typical summer BBQ).

So now that we know the biggest triggers for acid reflux, what are the best alternatives to curb the nasty side effects without ruining your summer BBQ plans?

Luckily, a change in diet and eating habits (including when you eat and what you do immediately following a meal) are typically the best ways to prevent acid reflux.

Change Your Habits

  • Avoid heavy meals before bed

  • Avoid lying down after eating a heavy meal

  • Eat lighter meals - Heavier meals are more difficult for your stomach to digest and lead to an excess amount of stomach acids being produced by your body to digest the heavy meal.

  • Exercise regularly - Acid reflux is most common amongst individuals who are overweight or obese

  • Elevate your head or sleep in a chair if you are having trouble with acid reflux in bed. This will help keep the acid from moving up into the esophagus

Change Your Diet - Replace foods high in acid or fat with 'friendlier' alternatives

Fatty Meats

Fat is never your friend if you suffer from acid reflux. High-fat proteins take longer for your body to break down, meaning they sit in the stomach longer and produce more acid. Opt for a lean fish (not salmon or anything high in fat!) or poultry option next time you grill.

If you opt for fish, go for a fish low in fats or you may have accidentally chosen an even worse alternative. Avoid high-fat fish like salmon or tuna.

Spicy Foods

A bit obvious. The best swap here is to go for foods lowest on the Scoville scale. A roasted sweet red bell pepper can give you the satisfying spice kick that you are looking for without blowing away your taste buds and stomach.

A sweet red pepper falls at the bottom of the scale, coming in at 0 Scoville units as opposed to that gourmet habanero hot sauce that can ruin your afternoon (and night) with over 225,000 Scoville units.

Acidic Toppings or Sides

That tomato slice on your burger may seem like a healthy option, but if you suffer from acid reflux or GERD, that highly acidic tomato can be just as harmful as the burger it is sitting on. The same goes for that fresh salsa dip or to avoid, no matter how delicious. A better option would be a cucumber or pineapple based salsa.

Fresh pineapples and pineapple juice contain bromelain, a powerful protein-digesting, or proteolytic, enzyme that reduces muscle and tissue inflammation, fluid retention in the nasal membranes (for allergy or sinusitis sufferers) and can even be used to aid in digestion.


High in caffeine, fat and theobromine (the primary alkaloid found in cocoa),which stimulates acid reflux stimulants such as theobromine, which cause reflux. If you must indulge, opt for a lower fat dark chocolate or white chocolate, which contains no cocoa.

White chocolate is a better alternative to the cocoa-containing chocolate, which contain more acid reflux triggers like theobromine.

Carbonated Beverages

We are addicted to the fizz inside our much-loved carbonated beverages, but those beloved bubbles are one of the primary causes of acid reflux. The carbonation bubbles expand inside the stomach and increase pressure that contributes to reflux by sending stomach acid back up the esophagus.

The best option here is to skip the carbonation all together. Even carbonated water can be a trigger.


Alcohol can cause the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) valve, which is responsible for preventing the passage of acids from the stomach to the esophagus, to loosen. When the LES valve is weak or loose, harmful acids are able to move past the valve and into the upper esophagus, causing that bitter-tasting burn that creeps through your chest and into your throat.

Avoiding alcohol is the best way to prevent alcohol-induced acid reflux, however if you must partake, try making up for it with your mixers. Pineapple, ginger, melons, or bananas are low in acidity and can help keep your cocktail down (literally).

There are over 100 different varieties of banana. Most widely consumed in the Western Hemisphere are Cavendish bananas. Bananas are believed by some to be the world’s oldest fruit. 

Fried Foods

High fat foods sit in your stomach longer, which results in higher acid production. Additionally, meals with a higher fat content can also stretch your stomach and cause your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to relax, which we now know can cause stomach acid to travel upwards.

Baking food instead of frying not only cuts down on acid reflux, but cuts serious calories without cutting flavor.

Replace the crunch you love in your fried foods by baking or flame-grilling. You'll get all the delicious texture with non of the greasy fat -- or acid reflux that comes with it.

If you are suffering from acid reflux or chronic GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) contact an ENT specialist. If you live in Colorado, contact the Colorado Voice Clinic.

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