Thanksgiving Feast

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The holiday season is upon us and most of these days and nights, are full of delicious festivities! However, there are millions of Americans who anticipate these celebrations with the fear of heartburn.

There are numerous restaurants of all types, ranging from fine dining to family favorites. Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving at home, with friends, or family members, remember to say thanks and to take it nice and easy on your slow food consumption.

Occasional episodes of “heartburn” are common; it is that burning sensation in the chest that at least 60 million Americans experience once a month normally following meals containing fatty or fried foods, alcohol, or chocolate. When symptoms become more frequent, persistent or are associated with “alarm symptoms” such as weight loss or difficulty swallowing, a consultation with a physician is necessary to evaluate for GERD.

Smart choices at holiday parties and at the dinner table will ensure you spend more time with friends and family and less time at the medicine cabinet looking for relief. Dr. Juan Carlos Bucobo, MD, Director of Endoscopy at Stony Brook University Hospital shares a few tips during the holiday season to minimize the burn and enjoy our holiday favorites. These following facts will help you avoid heartburn, aka Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.

Nibble don’t hoard: Overeating and eating too fast will increase the chances of heartburn if you are predisposed. Smaller portions separated over time will decrease the chances you will burn in agony.

Identify the culprits: Certain foods are more likely to cause heartburn. These include fatty foods, spicy foods, onions, garlic, caffeine, chocolate, citrus fruits and juices and mints.

Kick the habit: There’s no reason to wait for New Year’s to start your resolutions and stop smoking. Nicotine reduces the pressure of the muscle between the esophagus and stomach increasing the likelihood of acid reflux amongst other deleterious effects.

Avoid lying down after dinner: Although the myth about turkey causing sleepiness may have been busted, overeating and alcohol are sure to make you want to snooze after a holiday meal. Resist the urge to lie down within 3 hours of eating as it is likely to worsen your heartburn.

Skip the eggnog: Alcohol, especially in large quantities and particularly red wine, has been implicated to worsen heartburn. If you are going to drink alcohol, do so in moderation (and of course don’t drive!)

Seek help from the supermarket shelf, or a doctor: There are several categories of over-the-counter medications available to ease the burn. When symptoms become frequent, more than 2-3 times per week, visiting a doctor is important in establishing the diagnosis and prescribe the most effective treatment.