Holidays provide countless opportunities to overeat and indulge in rich foods. You may already have acid reducers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) on hand to cool the burn of acid reflux, but how about trying to prevent heartburn naturally?
With deliberate planning and self-control, you can have all the taste of the holiday goodies without the chest pain, sour taste and throat burn. Here are ten healthy eating tips to keep the jolly in your holiday.
- Volunteer to plan the menu — Offer to plan or prepare the holiday meal. Making menu decisions will ensure that you can enjoy several dishes that won’t cause acid reflux.
- Avoid Heartburn Trigger Foods — Common heartburn triggers include citrus, mint, chocolate, onions, garlic, spicy foods, greasy foods, red meat and dairy. Try to avoid these common heartburn triggers in your recipes or research suitable substitute ingredients that will provide similar flavor and texture.
- Cook at home — When you cook at home, you can control the menu, ingredients and cooking methods. Choose fresh, whole foods instead of prepared, fast foods.
- Eat small amounts — Overeating can place pressure on the valve that separates the stomach and esophagus. Use a smaller plate and take tiny portions. You can always go back for a second helping later.
- Be careful about condiments — Gravy, sauce and dressing are usually high in fat or sugar, and condiments often contain acid and spices. Use sparing amounts and eat slowly.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine — Beverages can also cause reflux, and alcohol and caffeine are common heartburn triggers. Limit your intake of wine, beer, soda, coffee and tea.
- Keep your regular meal schedule — Those holiday munchies look tantalizing but grazing throughout the day is a recipe for reflux. Eat at your usual meal times to regulate digestion.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing — Tight pants or a top with a fitted waistline can constrict the stomach and increase the likelihood of heartburn.
- Take a walk after dinner — Resist the urge to take an after-dinner nap. Lying down after eating can allow digested food to escape the stomach and flow back into the esophagus.
- No eating before bed — Eat your last meal of the day two to three hours before bedtime to allow for complete digestion.
These tips can help you prevent heartburn all year long, not just on holidays. If you follow these suggestions but still experience acid reflux regularly, call your gastroenterologist. You may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition that requires a doctor’s diagnosis and prompt treatment.