Finding the perfect neighborhood watering hole to watch a big game or decompress after a long work day can be fun. But there’s usually one issue those of us with heartburn always have to deal with: greasy, fried, fatty food because, well, that’s typical fare at a bar.
But, never fear — we’ve found some dietician-approved bar food that won’t cause heartburn (for most people, at least). The next time you find yourself feeling hungry at your neighborhood bar, reach for one of these smarter snacks. Pro tip: You can still and keep a bottle of TUMS handy in both your medicine cabinet and purse. TUMS provides fast relief for your toughest heartburn, going to work in seconds to neutralize acid on contact — so quickly, you’ll forget you had heartburn in the first place if it does arise.
Bar Food That Won’t Cause Heartburn
Better Bar Food #1: Pretzels
While soft pretzels aren’t the most nutrient dense food, they can be a good pick for heartburn sufferers because plain, low-fat carbs are typically better than high-fat baked goods like donuts and biscuits. Best to avoid spicy mustard and fatty cheese sauces, though, which are typical heartburn triggers.
Better Bar Food #2: Crudités
If you want to have some kind of a dip at a bar, Emily Wunder3, a New Jersey-based dietician and creator of Healthier Taste, suggests ordering a crudités plate if it’s available. If not, ask for raw veggies to pair with whatever dip is on the menu, which should be less irritating4 than cooked vegetables in high-fat sauces. Just remember to avoid tomatoes and onions, two typical heartburn triggers5.
Better Bar Food #3: Fresh Oysters
According to Lorraine Chu6, a New York-based registered dietician and founder of Cacaocachu, fresh oysters, a staple on many bars’ happy hour menus, can be a heartburn-friendly pick. “Oysters are packed with the mineral zinc, which helps produce hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Hydrochloric acid helps to break down and digest protein,” says Chu. “Surprisingly, having too little stomach acid can also sometimes lead to heartburn.”9
You may want to skip the squeeze of lemon and cocktail sauce, Chu adds, since those toppings are or can be acidic. And as tempting as it may be, don't order the oysters fried.
Better Bar Food #4: Grilled Chicken
To avoid that burning sensation in your chest, “Think about foods that are not spicy — perhaps not the highest heat chicken wings,” says Jessi Holden10, a Michigan-based registered dietician who blogs at Nutrition Brewed. “Spicy food 11 is a common trigger for heartburn.” Far better to stick with something plain and neutral like lean grilled chicken. You can even ask that it be cooked with less oil to cut down on grease.
Better Bar Food #5: Water
Yes, you’re at a bar, and yes, everyone else is probably drinking, but it’s important to keep in mind that alcohol13, especially common brunch cocktails like Bloody Marys (tomatoes) or Mimosas (orange juice) can also give you heartburn.
At the end of the day, heartburn isn’t the same experience for everybody. “Everyone will have symptoms with different trigger foods,” says Holden. She suggests journaling what you’re consuming, when you’re consuming it, and any symptoms you’re having throughout the day to identify your individual triggers.
With these smart substitutions on hand and TUMS by your side, you can enjoy a night out with friends and without heartburn worry!