Alaska Regional Hospital - November 22, 2016

Planning on seconds at Thanksgiving Day dinner this year? Even if you're not, if you suffer from chronic heartburn - clinically known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) - you may have a hard time enjoying this meal-oriented holiday.

Here are a few steps may help minimize the after-effects of eating if you have GERD.

  1. Pace yourself. Rather than have one big meal, have at least two small meals throughout the day. It's also a good idea to have a healthy snack of veggies before the main course is served.
  2. Don't eat just before bedtime.Bigger meals should be eaten at least three hours before going to sleep to avoid an acid reflux flare-up.
  3. Opt for water. Rather than soda or wine, drink water to avoid aggravating your symptoms. Drinking plenty of water will also aid in digestion and help you stay hydrated.
  4. Limit certain foods. Do not overindulge on carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice. It's also a good idea to avoid spicy or tomato-based foods as well as foods high in fat.
  5. Avoid caffeine. To prevent a flare-up of GERD symptoms, pass on the coffee or other caffeinated beverages.
  6. Don't smoke. Smoking irritates the lining of the stomach, esophagus, nose and sinuses.
  7. Leave the belt at home. Tight or restrictive clothing or accessories can increase heartburn-related discomfort.
  8. Walk. Taking a stroll before or after Thanksgiving dinner can aid in digestion and boost metabolism.
  9. Gargle with salt water. At the end of the day, gargling with salt water can help remove acid and soothe stomach irritation.

What you can eat if you have GERD

The National Institute of Health reminds those who suffer from GERD not to eat fatty, greasy or spicy foods, chocolate, coffee, peppermint, tomatoes or tomato products and to avoid alcoholic beverages.

If you have GERD, that may sound more like a sentence than helpful advice, but it doesn't have to be. If you eat a healthy and balanced diet, especially during the holidays, you can help your entire family enjoy a healthier lifestyle. Use a tool like the USDA's to plan delicious, GERD-free meals, and make the most of the holidays.