Enjoy BBQ Season without the Burn of GERD


These resources were made possible through a partnership between Medtronic and CDHF.

Spring has sprung! Something about the warmth in the air makes you want to break out the BBQ’s and enjoy some hotdogs, ribs, and spicy margaritas! To help you enjoy this BBQ season, we’ve put together a list of our top 5 tips and tricks to help you reduce and avoid reflux symptoms and heartburn.

1. Schedule early meals.

Avoid firing up the grill and having dinner late in the day. Plan your BBQ 3 to 4 hours before going to bed.

2. Choose a lean protein.  

High-fat meals and fried foods could increase your risk of getting acid reflux 1, 2. This means BBQ ribs and hotdogs may not be the best choice to fire up on the grill due to the high fat to protein ratio. Here are some of our tips for grilling some lean protein:

  • Swap high fat meats for a leaner cuts options such as chicken, turkey, or extra lean beef burger. You can make these yourselves by buying extra lean ground chicken, turkey or beef and rolling them into patties
  • Grill up some fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut or swordfish
  • Swap breaded chicken wings with grilled skinless chicken breasts

3. Avoid spicy and acid-containing foods.

Although food triggers may be different for everyone, there are certain foods that have caused symptoms for many people 3.  Try these tips for healthier sides and toppings

  • Use low-fat cheese on your burger
  • Swap the fries or potato chips for a baked potato
  • Swap the mayo for yogurt-based spreads
  • Avoid the use of spices such as cayenne and curry and swap them for herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary and ginger
  • For dessert, swap the chocolatey treats for a fruit salad with apples, peaches, plums, and bananas. Some highly acidic fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruit and lime may cause reflux so be sure to reduce your intake of those.

4. Choose water as your drink of choice!

As much as shaking up a spicy margarita sounds appealing; it’s not worth the unpleasant symptoms that may come later! Alcohol, juices and carbonated beverages like soda (this includes soda water!) may trigger reflux symptoms. Our suggestion is to always make water your drink of choice, or switch it up with some cold unsweetened iced tea.

5. Two words, portion control.

We know this can be a tough adjustment. BBQ foods taste so good that it may be hard to stop eating them! However, overeating causes the stomach to expand and may increase the risk of reflux. Here are our top tips to eating smaller portions:

  • Eat slowly. When you chew your food slowly, your giving your stomach more time to send messages to your brain that you are full, and this will help that you do not overeat.
  • Try smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day .

It’s important to note that not all foods will affect all people in the same way. Coming up with the appropriate diet for you will take a little experimentation. So every time you go to grill, try switching up what you eat to identify which specific foods are your triggers. Next time you can find replacements for them, and grill on, GERD free!

Quick list of potential reflux-triggering foods to avoid at the BBQ:

  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Fatty meats (such as beef and pork)
  • Fried foods (such as french fries and onion rings)
  • High fat cheeses
  • Chili powder and pepper
  • Hot spices and marinades
  • High-fat condiments and salad dressings
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Peppermint
  • Chocolate
  • High acidic fruits such as grapefruit and oranges

If acid reflux, pains in the chest, a cough or a sore throat persist for long periods of time, they could be symptoms of GERD. If you start to experience excessive or daily acid reflux, especially coupled with a sore throat and a cough that lingers, you should ask your doctor about GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Learn more about GERD on CDHF’s website here.


1. DeVault KR, Castell DO. Updated guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005;100(1):190–200. [PubMed[Google Scholar]

2. Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/ [PubMed]

3. Diet Changes for GERD (2020). Retrieved from: https://www.aboutgerd.org/diet-lifestyle-changes/diet-changes-for-gerd.html