If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or heartburn, Thanksgiving can be a painful holiday. Overeating tends to exacerbate both of these conditions and it’s almost an American tradition to stuff yourself as well as the turkey. But by making some better choices, you can enjoy the feast without feeling miserable later.
- Start with Salad – salads are good news for those with chronic heartburn or GERD, as long as you have the right ingredients. Foods that are high in fat are known triggers for acid reflux, so avoid creamy salad dressings, as well as oil and vinegar. You should also take out tomatoes, raw onions, and other acid-aggravating ingredients. If a salad contains fruit, choose apples over acidic oranges.
- Be Generous with Ginger – ginger, in small quantities, can actually help ease heartburn. And ginger pairs perfectly with root vegetable dishes commonly served during the holidays, such as sweet potatoes, baked potatoes and carrots.
- Slow and Steady – the food is finally on the table and you’re ready to dig in. But take your time. If you wolf down your dinner so you can rush back to the big game, you’ll likely pay the price later. Linger over dinner for relief from heartburn. People get more heartburn when they eat quickly. So slow down, and savor. You can also avoid eating quickly by snacking lightly before dinner so you feel more full, and are less likely to inhale your meal.
- Get Multi-Grain – breads and rolls will abound, but choose carefully when it comes to these starchy foods. Opt for whole grain, whole wheat breads and rolls. Corn bread is also a heartburn friendly choice.
- Adopt a “Baked Not Mashed” Motto – if you have chronic heartburn, you don’t have to give up your favorite foods – you just have to choose wisely to avoid painful symptoms later. Mashed potatoes can trigger heartburn, but baked potatoes may not. The high fat content of dairy is to blame. Limiting butter and avoiding sour cream can significantly reduce your reflux.
- Know that Breast is Best – again it’s all about fat content. When looking at the meat platter, choose the white breast meat, not the darker thigh meat, which is more oily and higher in fat. And, unless the gravy is fat-free, you’d be wise to skip it and opt for some salt and pepper instead.
- End on a High Note – when you’re finished eating, continue to make good choices. Avoid alcohol (it always makes heartburn worse), pick pie over chocolate for dessert and instead of sitting down to doze in front of the game, take a walk to encourage healthy digestion of the food you just ate.