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Managing Your Heartburn


Many people experience heartburn.  There are steps you can take to help reduce heartburn pain and get relief from your symptoms. Read on to learn more.

What is heartburn?

Heartburn is when the acid in your stomach comes back up into the esophagus. This causes a “burning” feeling in your chest. Heartburn is also called acid reflux.

How can I manage heartburn?

Avoid food and drinks that may cause heartburn including:

  • Fried and deep fried foods, high fat desserts and snacks, and high fat meat and dairy products.
  • Acidic foods like citrus (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit) and tomato products (sauce, soup and paste etc).
  • Spices, peppermint, chocolate, garlic and onions.
  • Caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, energy drinks and pop.
  • Alcohol.

What causes heartburn is different for each person. Try keeping track of what you eat so you know what your triggers are. 

Pay attention to how and when you eat:

  • Eat smaller meals.
  • Avoid lying down for at least 45 minutes after eating.
  • Avoid eating 2-3 hours before bedtime. 

More tips 

Over the long term, these lifestyle tips may help to reduce how often you experience heartburn. 

  • Set healthy eating goals and aim to be physically active.
  • Quit or limit smoking.
  • Avoid clothing that is tight across your stomach.
  • Raise the head of your bed 6-8 inches when sleeping. Try "bed blocks" or special foam wedges. Pillows may not be enough as they raise only your head. Your esophagus should be higher than your stomach.

Is heartburn the same as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

No. Many people have heartburn once in a while, especially after eating certain foods.  When heartburn becomes a frequent problem, it may be Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD.

What if diet and lifestyle changes don’t help?

If you have symptoms more than three times a week or if lifestyle changes and/or over the counter antacids are not helping, speak with your health care provider. Have more questions about managing heartburn? Call EatRight Ontario to speak with a Registered Dietitian for free. Call 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email

You may also be interested in:

Managing Gas
What You Should Know about Ulcers

Last Update – November 9, 2017

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If you have questions about what you've read here, or other questions about food, nutrition or healthy eating, click to email our Registered Dietitians or call 1-877-510-5102.

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