Top 25 Summer Heartburn Triggers

Chili dogs, chocolate ice cream, and cherry cola. Summer brings a lot of tempting treats. But unfortunately, many of these warm weather foods can leave your belly more than a little upset—especially if you're prone to heartburn.

Check out the list below for the 25 most common heartburn-causing foods of the season, why they're problematic for heartburn sufferers, and some alternative foods that will allow you to participate in the festivities without going hungry.

1. Beef kabobs
Beef can be greasy and high in fat.
Kabobs made with chicken, fish and/or veggies

2. Corn on the cob with butter
Butter is a known heartburn trigger.
Summer's sweet corn is plenty flavorful. Try it boiled or grilled, without the butter.

3. Chili dogs
Chili is spicy and tomato-based, while hot dogs can be high in fat.
Go for a veggie, lean beef or turkey dog and ditch the chili.

4. Chocolate mousse
Chocolate and dairy foods such as mousse and pudding can trigger heartburn.
If dairy foods cause distress for you, try fruit-flavored gelatin as a sweet dessert.

5. French fries
Greasy and high in fat
Try baked potatoes in the oven or on the grill. If you must have fries, make your own, but bake them instead of frying.

6. Fried chicken
Greasy and high in fat
Try skinless chicken breasts that are baked or grilled.

7. Funnel cakes
Deep fried and high in fat

8. Grilled onions
Onions are common triggers for digestive distress.

9. Grilled peppers
Sweet or hot, peppers can cause heartburn.

10. Hamburger
Greasy and high in fat
Opt for a lean chicken, turkey or veggie burger.

11. Hot dogs and sausages
Some sausages can be spicy while both meats are high in fat.
Try a veggie dog or a lean turkey or beef hot dog, but watch out for those heartburn-triggering toppings!

12. Hot salsa
Both spicy and tomato-based (acidic)
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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Member Comments

I love all those things. No wonder I'm always burning. Report
Interesting list. Thanks. Report
Good article. Report
thanks Report
Thanks for the info Report
thanks... Report
My ketchup has vinegar. The first thing I check on the ingredients label is that the vinegar comes before the sweeteners. Otherwise, it's too sweet.

I've also had success with apple cider vinegar so I don't buy that as a trigger. I can eat most of the things on this list without issue. Report
I get heartburn from avocado and celery, big time.... Report
Really! Report
So basically, don't enjoy summer Report
No stupid apple cider vinegar , an old wives tale that is snake oil promise. Report
Was So glad to come across this article on Triggers for GERD. Most all the items listed are things I love to eat, so it looks like I am going to have to really redo my eating habits, but I know it will make me a lot healthier in the long run.

Thank you So Much for putting this article on your SparkPeople web site.
Catherine Report
Thanks for posting these triggers! Report
I think keeping a journal for individual heart burn sufferers can narrow down the culprit in your life for what might affect one might not osmeone else. This was a good list of what those culprits may be. For myself, I knew what mine are and what I should stay away from. Thank you for enlightening me more. Report
Wondering about the sauerkraut remark, vinger? There is no vinger in sauerkraut. Report


About The Author

Nicole Nichols
Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.