Mexican food is known for its big, bold flavors. But if you have acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion may stop you from indulging in favorites like tacos, enchiladas, and burritos. The good news is that you can enjoy Mexican cuisine and manage your symptoms by making a few adjustments.
Understanding Acid Reflux Triggers
Acid reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when stomach acid flows back up into your esophagus and causes irritation. This can trigger painful heartburn and other unpleasant symptoms.
Certain foods and habits tend to aggravate acid reflux, including:
- Spicy foods
- Fried foods
- Fatty foods
- Acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus
- Onions and garlic
- Large portions
- Eating late at night
Strategies for Indulging While Preventing Discomfort
By steering clear of your biggest trigger foods and making smart menu selections, you can still enjoy the vibrant flavors of Mexican cuisine without side effects.
Pick and Choose Ingredients Wisely
Avoid dishes with raw onions, jalapeños, and excessive chili peppers or hot sauce. Opt for corn tortillas over deep-fried taco shells. Choose grilled proteins like chicken or shrimp instead of fatty meats. Say no to sour cream and cheese toppings.
Go Easy on Fats
High-fat foods like refried beans, cheese, guacamole, and crispy tortilla chips can stimulate acid production and worsen reflux. Limit rich ingredients or ask for them on the side.
Skip Problem Foods
Tomatoes, citrus fruits, peppers, onions, and garlic are acidic and can trigger symptoms. Avoid salsa, ceviche, and other dishes heavy on these ingredients.
Watch Portion Sizes
Overeating forces the stomach to work harder and can push food and stomach acid back up. Keep portions moderate to reduce pressure on your digestive tract.
Eat Slowly and Chew Thoroughly
Wolfing down food quickly can lead to swallowing air, which can aggravate reflux. Take small bites, chew well, and put your fork down between bites.
Avoid Late Night Eating
Lying down too soon after eating makes it easier for stomach contents to come back up. Finish dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime.
Satisfying Mexican Dishes for Acid Reflux Diets
With the right choices, you can craft an acid reflux-friendly Mexican meal. Try these satisfying options:
- Guacamole without onions or garlic
- Mild salsa and corn tortilla chips
- Queso dip with low-fat cheese
- Hummus with veggies or corn chips
Soups and Salads
- Gazpacho (cold vegetable soup)
- Tortilla soup without onions and tomatoes
- Chicken lettuce wraps
- Shrimp avocado salad
Tacos and Burritos
- Grilled chicken or steak fajitas
- Shredded pork carnitas
- Grilled fish tacos with corn tortillas
- Burritos with rice, beans, lean protein
- Chicken enchiladas with mild red sauce
- Vegetable tamales in corn husks
- Grilled chicken tostadas with lettuce and avocado
- Chicken quesadillas with low-fat cheese
- Mexican rice
- Refried beans, small portion or without lard
- Elote (grilled corn with mayo, cheese, lime)
- Roasted sweet potatoes
Satisfy Your Cravings at Mexican Restaurants
Craving your favorite Mexican restaurant but worried about acid reflux? Don’t avoid dining out. With a few precautions, you can still enjoy meals away from home.
- Review the menu online and choose acid reflux-friendly options
- Request changes, like leaving off onion and tomatoes
- Ask for corn tortillas instead of deep-fried taco shells
- Choose grilled entrées without rich sauces
- Limit cheese, sour cream, and fatty ingredients
- Request small portions of trigger foods like beans, salsa
- Avoid margaritas and other alcohol that can worsen reflux
The key is being prepared. Call ahead if needed to ask questions about menu items. With planning and gentle requests, restaurants are usually happy to accommodate dietary needs.
Handling Symptoms When They Occur
Despite your best efforts, acid reflux symptoms may still flare up occasionally after eating. Here are some quick tips to relieve discomfort:
- Chew sugar-free gum to produce more saliva, which helps neutralize stomach acid.
- Suck on lozenges made with alginate, which forms a barrier against reflux.
- Take over-the-counter antacids to neutralize excess acid.
- Drink baking soda diluted in water to quickly neutralize acid.
- Don’t lie down for 3 hours after eating to keep acid down.
- Wear loose clothing to avoid extra pressure on your stomach.
If symptoms persist, see your doctor to discuss medications or other acid reflux treatments for more lasting relief.
Enjoying Mexican Cuisine and Managing Acid Reflux
With a few adjustments to your eating habits and choices, you can still enjoy the bright, bold flavors of Mexican food without triggering painful acid reflux symptoms. Be cautious of trigger ingredients, follow sensible portion sizes, choose mild dishes, and implement other preventive steps.
Arm yourself with knowledge of acid reflux diet do’s and don’ts so you can indulge in moderation at home or when dining out. With the right preparation and choices, you don’t have to say goodbye to enjoying Mexican cuisine. A few tweaks can help you manage discomfort while still satisfying your cravings.