Tips to avoid holiday heartburn: eat moderately, skip mints and acidic foods, minimize stress, take a walk, chew gum
The six weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is often filled with large meals, decadent treats and festive beverages — a perfect storm for the one in five Americans who suffer from heartburn, or acid reflux.
Heartburn is an irritation of the esophagus caused by stomach acid. A registered dietitian at Houston Methodist Hospital, Kari Kooi, offers some tips on how to avoid heartburn during the holidays:
- Skip the after-dinner mints. Peppermint relaxes the muscles between the stomach and esophagus, which can allow stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.
- Avoid tomato-based products, citrus fruits and juices, spicy cuisine, high-fat foods, chocolate, alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which are known triggers for heartburn.
- Chew gum. This alleviates heartburn by stimulating acid-neutralizing saliva, which helps to clear the acid from the esophagus. Fruit or cinnamon-flavored gum is best.
- Minimize holiday stress even while you are eating. Take a few slow, deep, rhythmic breaths before eating and then eat slowly and mindfully.
- Take a short walk after eating to help gastric juices to flow in the proper direction.
- Wait at least two hours after eating before lying down.
- Eat smaller portions and skip the seconds.