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Navigating Thanksgiving with GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)

Navigating Thanksgiving with GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)

Thanksgiving is a favored American holiday full of family, friends and delicious foods. Most people want to gobble up their seasonal favorites like turkey, dressing and Mom's homemade mac and cheese. But for more than 20% of Americans, it's important to slow down to reduce the effects of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

GERD is a severe and long-lasting condition in which gastroesophageal reflux causes repeat symptoms or leads to complications over time.

The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders has 15 tips to help you manage the symptoms of GERD this holiday season.

1. Schedule an earlier meal. It's best not to eat late at night for those who suffer with GERD.

2. Serve light appetizers. Avoid fatty foods, particularly on an empty stomach. Instead, reach for the vegetable platter.

3. Stay active. Take a walk after your thanksgiving meal and keep up regular physical activity throughout the holiday season. 

4. Don't smoke. Nicotine causes the muscles of your food pipe that prevent reflux to weaken.

5. Nix the juice. Juices that are high in citrus are also acidic and can worsen your symptoms.

6. Season lightly. Keep it light! Spicy foods, onions and garlic can increase your reflux.

7. Limit your alcohol intake. Wine, beer and other alcohol can also worsen your reflux.

8. Pass on deep frying your turkey. Fried foods can exacerbate your GERD symptoms.

9. Use smaller plates. Portion control can greatly help minimize your symptoms. Try smaller meals throughout the day.

10. Substitute water for soda. Just like alcohol, caffeine and carbonation can aggravate your reflux. Water is your best bet! 

11. Watch the desserts. Chocolate can be an instigator for reflux, but don't worry that still leaves pumpkin pie (in moderation)!

12. Skip the after-dinner mint. Peppermint can increase reflux.

13. Slow down. Eat smaller portions and smaller bites. The holiday season is a marathon not a sprint. 

14. Stay awake. Let activity aid the digestive process. Take a walk after dinner not a nap! 

15. Talk to your doctor. A diagnosis is an important first step in receiving treatment. Schedule an appointment!

If you have GERD we encourage you to SLOW DOWN your gobble this Thanksgiving. If you are experiencing consistent and painful heartburn you might have GERD. Schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist at your earliest convenience. 

Infirmary Medical Clinics has specialists in Mobile and Baldwin Counties to help you get the right diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Above all, we hope you have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving Holiday!