How to Keep Acid Reflux Under Control During the Holidays
Acid reflux is epidemic. Today, 125 million Americans have reflux—that is 4 in 10 people—and half of them do not even know they have it. That’s because acid reflux symptoms include hoarseness, chronic cough, a lump-in-the-throat sensation, difficulty swallowing, choking episodes, shortness of breath, asthma, postnasal drip, and even sinus. That’s right! All of those symptoms are associated with acid reflux into the esophagus (the swallowing tube that joins the stomach and the throat), and sometimes even into the throat and lungs.
You may be surprised to learn that the holiday season is the worst reflux time of the year. There are many reasons for this: stress, travel, parties, and lots of rich food. When it comes to the holidays, many people with reflux just forget about moderation and overeat and over-drink. They think that they can eat their cake and have it too! In truth, if you have acid reflux, the holiday season is a time for you to be especially vigilant and to exercise more restraint than any other time of year.
Preventing Holiday Reflux: Top 10 List of What to Avoid
- No carbonated beverages (all carbonated beverages, particularly those with caffeine)
- No bottled fruit or energy drinks (unfortunately, these are acidified to prolong shelf life)
- No more than one glass of eggnog or wine a day
- No chocolate (sorry!)
- Avoid garlic and onions, particularly if they are in a greasy sauce
- No bacon, barbecue, or sausages
- Avoid fried food (foods sautéed in olive oil are okay, but no deep fried food)
- Just one plate of food from the buffet (big-time overeating = asking for reflux)
- No late-night eating (if you eat before bed, you are going to have reflux while you sleep)
- Avoid holiday cookies
Actually, just kidding about number 10 — sugar cookies are probably one of the better holiday treats for people who have reflux, as long as they are not also high in fat or made of chocolate. There is lots that is good to eat for you with reflux. Turkey, potatoes, green beans and other veggies are great foods for refluxers, but do limit cranberry and gravy, just use a little bit for flavoring the other foods. Pumpkin pie is also pretty good, but stay away from the whipped cream.
No matter what time of year it is, the healthiest reflux foods are: grains (cereal, breads, etc.), rice, poultry, fish, and vegetables. These do not change no matter what time of year it is. Remember, excessive amounts of alcohol are to be avoided! And if you do have nighttime reflux or will be eating late, you may want to consider taking an antacid, Gaviscon, or an over-the-counter medicine like Zantac or Pepcid before going to your party and before bed, especially if you have cough or heartburn symptoms.
Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook and Cure is available on Amazon and in Barnes & Noble bookstores. In addition, “Dropping Acid” on Facebook is very useful to people with reflux as it is very interactive.