Gastroesophageal reflux disease (also known as GERD) affects about to 20% of the American population, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. If you're one of the many with GERD, a holiday, birthday, anniversary or other special occasion celebration may seem like a major struggle. Whether it's a July 4th family BBQ, Christmas dinner or your BFF's wedding, food-related events aren't easy with reflux disease. But there's hope, and plenty of it. What can you do to make the most of holiday meals and special events when dealing with GERD?
Foods to Avoid
The buffet that grandma set up for Christmas dinner is mouth-watering. Before you fill your plate, stop to consider which foods are better (and worse) for your reflux disease. Keep in mind, not all foods and beverages will affect you equally. Foods and drinks that trigger reflux symptoms typically include (but certainly aren't limited to) high-fat desserts such as cheesecake, coffee, 'gassy' veggies such as broccoli, citrus fruits/citrus fruit juices, alcohol, spicy foods such as chicken wings, tomatoes, chocolate and some types of tea.
Foods to Try
Even though the list of foods that may aggravate reflux isn't exactly short, you still have plenty of eating options. Some foods may even help your symptoms. What can you try? Vegetables such as potatoes and cucumbers, ginger, oatmeal and other whole grains, non-citrus fruits such as melons or bananas, egg whites and lean meats such as grilled chicken or white-meat turkey.
Stay Away from Spices
Avoid any 'good for you' food that is cooked or covered with spices. Even though grilled chicken on its own may not trigger your reflux, if it's coated in cayenne pepper it probably will.
Don't forget that spices aren't only hidden in foods. Some holiday beverages, such as cider, may also have heavy spice components. If you're in doubt, ask the host or hostess before driving anything.
Keep Fat Away
A food that you usually tolerate well may not go over so well if it's smothered in a fatty sauce. High-fat foods tend to trigger reflux symptoms. A naked baked potato may treat your digestive system well. But, cover it with full-fat sour cream, cheese or butter and you're likely to have a problem. Look for lo-fat options or simply go for the plain version.
That tight dress you chose for the holiday party may look amazing. But it doesn't feel that way. Whether it's a dress, shirt or a pair of pants, clothes that constrict your body may make your abdominal and chest areas uncomfortable. This only adds to the issues that your reflux disease is causing. While you don't need to wear a tent or sweats, stick with clothes that have some give in them.
Reflux disease is a manageable medical condition. Along with choosing your foods wisely and dressing for success, always make sure to take any medications your doctor has prescribed. Holidays and special days are often hectic times. It's easy to accidentally skip a dose here and there. But, the more attentive you are to your meds, the better you'll feel. Set a reminder on your phone or write yourself a note to stay on top of your med schedule during these busy times.Talk to doctor, such as at Premier Surgical Associates, for more help