Most of us crave our favorite comfort foods during the holidays, but they often come with a range of side effects relating to digestive issues. Experiencing heartburn or acid reflux can really take away from the holiday spirit. To help you avoid one of the most common digestive disorders this season, here are seven tips for managing GERD during the holidays.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, irritating the lining of the esophagus. Symptoms of GERD include acid reflux and heartburn. Although acid reflux and heartburn are common, when these symptoms begin to occur frequently or chronically, you may have GERD.  

GERD differs from occasional heartburn or acid reflux. This disease is usually diagnosed when the patient experiences acid reflux symptoms more than twice a week. The chest pain, burning, itching, or other uncomfortable sensations often occur after eating.

With all of the good food available during the holidays, heartburn might seem inevitable. You might think you’ll have to pass up on some of your favorite foods for a GERD friendly diet, but that’s not the case. You can effectively reduce your heartburn symptoms with a few easy lifestyle changes.

Avoiding GERD During the Holidays

The Surgical Clinic has gathered the following seven tips for managing GERD that will help you lower the risk of getting GERD or reduce its symptoms this holiday season.

1. Limit portion size

Heartburn symptoms are linked not only to what you eat but also how much you eat. Eating too much food can trigger heartburn.
Limiting portion sizes can greatly reduce the chances of having heartburn later on. Break up your meals overtime by enjoying smaller portions so that you’re not too stuffed.

2. Pace yourself

Take your time and savor your holiday meals. Eating too quickly might be the cause of frequent heartburn.

3. Don’t eat too late

Eating a big meal before going to bed also causes heartburn. You can prevent this by giving yourself two or three hours between your last meal and your bedtime. This will give your stomach time to digest food properly.

If you experience reflux before bed or while you sleep, try elevating your head at night. By using a few more pillows, or a wedge pillow, you reduce the amount of acid able to travel back up your esophagus and prevent reflux.

4. Stay active

Overweight individuals are more likely to suffer from acid reflux than those who maintain a healthy weight. Exercise may help prevent or relieve the symptoms of acid reflux. After eating, stay active with low-impact exercises such as walking, jogging, or yoga.

5. Eat the right foods

Make sure to choose your foods wisely so you aren’t affected by heartburn. Steer clear from acidic, high-fat and spicy foods or any food that may trigger the symptoms of heartburn.

6. Limit caffeine and alcoholic beverages

Caffeine and alcoholic drinks stimulate acid production and are likely to cause heartburn. Consider decaffeinated or herbal teas instead.

7. Stop smoking

Studies have shown a close link between smoking and GERD, as well as some of GERD’s more serious symptoms. Talk to your doctor about medications or other treatment options that can help you quit smoking. 

Do you know what triggers your GERD symptoms? Take these extra steps this holiday season to prevent indigestion. 

Do I need treatment for GERD?

While most people with GERD have mild symptoms, if left untreated, constant reflux and irritation of the tissue of the esophagus can lead to complications such as tissue damage, difficulty swallowing, or even cancer.

Prescription medication or surgery may be needed, especially for continuing health problems. Over-the-counter and prescription medications are effective for short term relief of heartburn symptoms, but for some, PPI medications no longer effectively treat symptoms.

The Surgical Clinic offers 3 types of GERD Treatments which are, LINX®, Nissen, and TIF. Of these treatments, LINX® and TIF are minimally invasive and have shorter recovery times. If you want to learn more about these treatment options visit the virtual GERD Center right here on our website.

If you’re suffering from reflux symptoms, make an appointment with us here at The Surgical Clinic to learn more about your GERD treatment options. Just call one of our conveniently located offices throughout Middle Tennessee in Smyrna, Hermitage, Columbia and 2 in Nashville. You can also use the online booking tool to schedule your appointment with one of our GERD specialists.  Happy Holidays from everyone at The Surgical Clinic!