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Managing GERD during the holiday season

GERD is uncomfortable year-round, but it can be especially troublesome when it comes to holidays meals and treats. Fortunately, there are ways you can avoid and combat GERD come holiday season.

Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease is a common digestive problem that plagues many people with uncomfortable, heartburn-like symptoms. GERD is typically used to describe severe acid reflex that occurs multiple times a week.

For people with GERD, the threat of acid reflux often looms. This is especially true of the holiday season, when rich meals and decadent treats are at every gathering. While it can be a challenge to deal with GERD, planning ahead and eating mindful can help minimize symptoms.

What is GERD?

GERD is a gastrointestinal condition in which stomach acid forces its way back into the esophagus. These heartburn symptoms often inflame the lining of the esophagus and can cause significant discomfort.

Heartburn is common: most people have experienced some form of acid reflux, and up to 27% of Americans experienced GERD. Many people can manage GERD with adjustments to their lifestyle and diet. However, some people require medication or a minor surgical procedure.

How can you manage GERD?

No one wants to have to worry about intestinal upset during the holidays, but a little bit of forethought can save you plenty of discomfort. Tips for managing GERD during the holidays include:

1. Don’t overindulge

Studies indicate that a large caloric intake over a short period of time — such as an indulgent Thanksgiving feast — can aggravate GERD symptoms. To help combat this phenomenon:

  • Eat in moderation. There are plenty of delicious holiday treats that may be worth enjoying — in moderation. If you can’t pass up your favorite holiday tradition, enjoy a small portion to avoid intestinal woes later.
  • Pace yourself. Research also indicates that eating more slowly over a longer time span can help mitigate GERD discomfort by giving your food more time to properly digest.
  • Eat mindfully. Take the time to savor your food. By choosing food that is truly important to you and enjoying it with intention, you can help avoid overindulgence and eating too quickly.

2. Choose your food carefully

There is a wide range of food that can trigger GERD, and every individual may have their own unique triggers. However, common food and drink triggers for acid reflux include:

  • Citrus fruits like lemon, limes, grapefruit, and oranges
  • Chocolate or cacao
  • High FODMAP foods like garlic and onions
  • Red wines
  • Mint or peppermint

If you’re cooking your own holiday meal, make your own plate of food that is trigger free. If you’re visiting family or attending a social event, don’t be afraid to ask about ingredients, bring your own food, or choose food you;re sure you can eat. While it can be uncomfortable to be picky about your food, it can be worth it to avoid pain and discomfort in the future.

Alcohol and carbonated drinks are another common cause of GERD symptoms. Whenever possible, enjoy alcohol in moderation or not at all.

3. Stick to a schedule

As many people with acid reflux know, lying down can make the digestion process more difficult. Because of this, it can help to create a meal schedule around your rest or sleep schedule. For example, it is often best to eat at like 2 to 3 hours before a nap or bedtime to allow your body time to properly digest.

4. Stay hydrated

Water is an effective way to quickly reduce the acidity of your stomach. Sip water throughout your meal to combat acid reflux symptoms.

5. Carry antacids

Common antacids are a tried-and-true method for soothing heartburn caused by GERD. If you’re worried about an onset of GERD caused by holiday treats, carry antacids with you to your next gathering.

Talk to your doctor about GERD symptoms

From dealing with GERD at Thanksgiving dinner to choosing your drinks on New Year’s Eve preparing for celebrations will help you enjoy your holiday season to the fullest. If you’re experiencing heartburn symptoms even with lifestyle changes and consistent management, reach out to your healthcare provider.

The holiday season is a time for celebrating loved ones and creating new memories. Your doctor can help you choose the best strategies for managing your GERD symptoms, including prescriptions or medical intervention.

Alpha Medical offers online medical consultations as well as prescriptions for GERD and other gastrointestinal conditions. To get started, you will complete an online consultation and an Alpha Provider will work with you to help you best manage your health.

To learn more about the conditions Alpha addresses and start your online consultation, visit our website.

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Alpha Medical is a telemedicine company that provides instant access to doctors who can diagnose and treat over 70% of conditions online, including mental health, primary care, skin & hair, and urgent care.

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