Did you know that the week of Thanksgiving is classified as GERD Awareness Week? GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, and it’s a condition we’ve talked about a few times on the blog in the past. GERD is a condition in which stomach acid regularly makes its way back up into your esophageal canal, and besides being uncomfortable, this can cause a number of different issues for your health. In the spirit of GERD Awareness Week and to help make your Thanksgiving meal a little more comfortable, we wanted to share 10 quick tips for preventing and managing GERD.
GERD Prevention During Thanksgiving
A number of factors that come into play during the Thanksgiving celebration can contribute to GERD and acid reflux, so keep these tips in mind. Many of these tips can apply to every meal, so know that GERD isn’t just an issue during Thanksgiving. If you want to help protect your esophageal health and keep uncomfortable digestive symptoms at bay, consider these practices around meal time.
- Slow Down – Overeating is an underlying factor when it comes to GERD, and if your stomach is full and your body is working hard to break down this food, it’s easier for stomach acid to make its way back up into your esophagus. You may be excited about the meal, but make sure you aren’t in a rush to clean your plate.
- Chew Chew Chew – Similarly, the more your mouth breaks down your food, the easier it will be on your stomach to do its part in the digestion process. You can kill two birds with one stone by really chewing your food up, as this will inherently slow you down as well.
- Avoid Juices And Alcohol – Juices can be very acidic and cause heightened discomfort in the event that you have an episode, while alcoholic beverages can lead to bloating and burping, which can put more strain on your stomach and increase your risk of GERD. Stick with water instead.
- Smaller Portions – Stick with smaller portions to help decrease the likelihood that you’ll over eat. You can always go back for more if you’re still hungry, but starting with smaller portions makes it easier to avoid overeating simply because you’re trying to be polite and finish your plate.
- Season Lightly – Salt, pepper and other seasonings can be more likely to irritate your stomach or cause a more uncomfortable reaction in the event you experience GERD. Go easy on the seasonings this Thanksgiving.
- Avoid Fatty Foods – Greasy and fatty foods are harder for your stomach to digest, and when your stomach is working harder to digest your food, you’re at an increased risk for GERD. We recommend avoiding deep frying your turkey, and look for healthier options to put on your plate if acid reflux has become more of an issue.
- Stay Active – Instead of sitting down after eating, be active and upright, as this will aid in digestion. It’s harder for your body to digest food when you’re sedentary, so even though you might want to lounge on the couch after eating, try to be upright or active for at least a half hour after the meal.
- Don’t Lay Down – While the tryptophan that’s in a turkey may leave you feeling sleepy, it’s really helpful if you avoid laying down after eating. When you’re upright, gravity is working in your favor and keeping stomach acid from getting where it shouldn’t. You don’t have that luxury when you’re lying on your back or your stomach, so avoid the temptation to nap or head to bed shortly after a meal.
- Nix The After Dinner Mint – If you’re experiencing discomfort or an acid reflux after eating, you may think that a cool mint may be just what you need. Unfortunately, peppermint can do just the opposite. Peppermint can actually relax your esophageal sphincter, making it easier for stomach acid to get up where it shouldn’t.
- Talk To A Doctor – Finally, while these tips can help you get through a meal, you really should reach out to a specialist or your primary care physician if you’re dealing with regular instances of GERD or acid reflux. Oftentimes simple medications paired with some other techniques listed above and weight loss can greatly improve and even eliminate your symptoms.
We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and if you have any questions or concerns about your digestive health now or after the holiday, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today at (952) 368-3800.