What foods are the worst triggers for acid reflux?

Here are the top 10 triggers for acid reflux. This is not a complete list, for sure. Avoid the foods that you know are going to cause you problems!

  • tomatoes
  • citrus fruits
  • onions
  • carbonated drinks
  • alcohol
  • spicy foods
  • fried foods
  • coffee
  • chocolate
  • peppermint

These foods are considered common triggers of acid reflux:

  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods
  • Coffee (including decaf)
  • Soda
  • Alcohol, particularly wine
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based foods, including pizza
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint
  • Citrus fruits and juices
Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

If you experience acid reflux (heartburn), keep a journal of the foods you eat that cause the problem. You may find that these common trigger foods make the list:

  • Spicy foods like hot sauce or food with hot peppers as in Thai and other spicy cuisines
  • Orange juice
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based dishes
  • Garlic and onions
  • Fried foods, juicy hamburgers and full-fat cheese 
  • Chocolate
  • Mint
  • Caffeine and caffeinated beverages including coffee, tea and soda
  • Alcohol

While these foods alone may trigger acid reflux, too much of any food can lead to it. If you are already prone to acid reflux, eat smaller meals and don’t lie down too soon after a meal. Give yourself at least 3 hours after a meal before going to bed to avoid a flare up.

Dr. Jonathan E. Aviv, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT Specialist)

The worst foods for acid reflux include caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, mint, fried food, garlic, vinegar and some vegetables. In this video, otolaryngologist Jonathan Aviv, MD, explains why these foods trigger acid reflux or throatburn symptoms.

Continue Learning about GERD

Get Smarter About Heartburn Drugs
Get Smarter About Heartburn Drugs
Proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs – taken by an estimated 20 million Americans to douse heartburn pain – are associated with a 44 percent increased risk...
Read More
What if alkaline foods are not helping my acid reflux symptoms?
James Rosser, MDJames Rosser, MD
If alkaline foods are not helping with your acid reflux symptoms, you may have GERD and may need to ...
More Answers
How can acid reflux affect my voice?
Fort Walton Beach Medical CenterFort Walton Beach Medical Center
In some patients, acid from reflux can move into the upper esophagus and larynx, especially at night...
More Answers
Frequent Reflux: What Should I Ask My Doctor about GERD?
Frequent Reflux: What Should I Ask My Doctor about GERD?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.