How to Avoid Heartburn at Holiday Parties
Acid reflux is a common complaint around the holidays, but you can reduce heartburn by avoiding trigger foods, eating smaller portions and modifying your habits.
Holiday meals are among the year’s most anticipated indulgences. Just one holiday dinner can pack in 3,000 calories. If you suffer from heartburn, you might feel reluctant to join the holiday feast because you know acid reflux is lurking around the corner. However, if you take time to create a holiday eating plan, you can sidestep heartburn and keep the joy in the season.
Avoid Heartburn Trigger Foods
If you suffer from heartburn, you probably already know what foods lead to a painful burning in your chest or sour taste in your throat. Reflux triggers vary among people, but typical culprits include citrus fruits, tomato-based foods, spicy foods, fatty foods, dairy, chocolate, mint, onions, garlic, alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Heartburn trigger foods relax the muscular valve between the esophagus and stomach, allowing gastric contents to flow into the esophagus and irritate the esophageal lining.
Choose higher-pH foods that won’t aggravate heartburn. Some alkaline-inducing foods include most vegetables and grains, bananas, pears, apples, chicken, turkey, fish and seafood. Vegetables are always a good choice because they contain almost no sugar and no fat.
Take Smaller Portions
Overeating can cause heartburn, even if you’re not prone to reflux. Try to take small portions and eat slowly to assess whether certain foods are safe, or use an appetizer plate as your dinner plate. A tiny plate will force you to limit your portion size, and it may help lower your overall calorie intake. Studies show losing just five pounds can reduce heartburn symptoms.
Improve Your Eating Habits
Celebrations often make us feel entitled to cheat on our diets, but heartburn doesn’t recognize holidays. Preventing acid reflux requires willpower, and it’s up to you to create healthy habits. Decide what you’ll eat before you arrive at the holiday party. Fill your plate with green salad, fresh fruit and veggies before sampling the cheese ball or chips and salsa. Fresh food satisfies your hunger and reduces the urge to overeat or binge.
Substitute Gum for Mints
After-dinner mints are a fitting finale to a special meal, but they can lead to heartburn. Avoid food or candy with peppermint or spearmint. Try cinnamon or fruit-flavored chewing gum after dinner to refresh your breath without causing reflux.
Call a Gastroenterologist
If you experience weekly heartburn, see a gastroenterologist. A fellowship-trained GI doctor can evaluate your symptoms and test for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a progressive digestive disorder. Click here and enter your zip code in the orange box for a list of GI treatment centers in your local area.