Holiday Cheer Giving you GI Distress?
The joy of holiday foods is a tradition many look forward to each year, and maybe more so this year! All the different foods of Holiday cheer can sometimes have a negative effect on your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and may cause heartburn. Good news, you can manage that heartburn And enjoy holiday treats!
That Burning Feeling
Heartburn or acid reflux affects more than 60 million Americans at least once a month. According to the American College of Gastroenterology more than 15 million Americans experience symptoms each day. Heartburn occurs when acid from the stomach comes back up the esophagus. In digestion, food goes into the stomach where a sphincter or valve at the top of the stomach and bottom of the esophagus, keeps food in the stomach. When that sphincter starts to malfunction food and acid can move up into the esophagus. The term heartburn reflects what this acid can feel like. The feelings can be a burning in the chest, neck, and throat, you might even notice a bitter, strong taste in the mouth. Acid reflux occurs for a variety of reasons and if it is infrequent it is not much to worry about. If you notice symptoms on a regular basis you should talk with your physician. If you need more information about causes of heartburn or acid reflux check this site.
Managing Holiday Cheer and GI Distress
Diet and some lifestyle changes are key means to manage heartburn. There are some foods that are known to trigger reflux so avoiding or limiting them is a good step. These foods include:
- Spicy Foods
- Fatty foods
- Onions and garlic
- Coffee and tea
- Carbonated beverages
If you notice, many of the foods on the list are foods that are often a big part of our Holiday Cheer! You do not have to eliminate these special holiday foods, but you should focus on limiting how much you eat, how many of these foods you eat together and how often you enjoy these foods. If you love a peppermint mocha – my favorite – consider avoiding other trigger foods on the day you enjoy your mocha. As you celebrate with holidays foods and beverages maybe you can leave out some of the garlic so that you can enjoy special dishes. When it comes to alcohol, the best advice is the same as that for drinking responsibly – monitor quantity!
Lifestyle changes can help immensely. Eating more slowly can help avoid overeating, which can lead to an overfull stomach. Keeping meals smaller also helps put less in the stomach at one time. Since reflux involves acid coming back up the esophagus it is important to stay upright for at least two hours after a meal. It also helps to avoid tight clothing around your waist. Physical activity can help digestion, making you feel more comfortable. A nice walk after a holiday meal is also a good time for family bonding.
Monitoring That Burn
If you find that you have heartburn on a weekly or daily basis, contact your physician to find out what else might be done to help manage the issue. A visit with a Registered Dietitian can also help you identify which foods are your trigger foods so that you can more precisely control your diet. You can locate a Registered Dietitian in your area by visiting the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.
About Connie – Connie is a Registered Dietitian with extensive experience communicating in the food and nutrition space. Taking the science of food and nutrition and translating it to simple messages, new products, or exciting menus is her expertise. Making nutrition messages clear, accurate, and engaging aids all consumers.