Don't overdo it
If you're prone to heartburn or have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), certain daysparticularly Thanksgivingmay fill you with dread.
What could be worse than a food-related holiday? Although it may seem like a recipe for heartburn pain, there are things you can do to help prevent acid reflux on the big day.
A major cause of heartburn is overeating, which can push acid into the heartburn-generating danger zone.
Selecting a salad
Salads are good news for those with chronic heartburn or GERDif you have the right salad dressing and ingredients, that is.
High-fat foods are a known trigger for acid reflux, so the National Heartburn Alliance recommends avoiding creamy salad dressings, as well as oil and vinegar.
Your best bet is a low-fat salad dressing, and avoid tomatoes, raw onions, and other acid-aggravating ingredients. (Want fruit in your salad? Choose apples, not oranges, if you want to avoid heartburn.)
Eat more ginger
Ginger is one ingredient that can help ease heartburn, if you don't get too much of it. (More than 2 to 4 grams per day can actually cause heartburn.)
Ginger is a natural match for root vegetable dishes commonly served during the holidays. Heartburn-friendly vegetables include carrots, cabbage, peas, broccoli, and green beans.
Choose multigrain rolls or bread
When choosing grain-based food for the holiday, you can't go wrong with multigrain bread or rolls. Corn bread and white bread are good choices too, if you want to avoid heartburn.
One side dish that should be strictly for the kids, however, is macaroni and cheese. This is one of those dishes known to trigger acid reflux, according to the National Heartburn Alliance.
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Choose baked, not mashed
If you have chronic heartburn, you don't have to give up your favorite foods. You just have to choose wisely to save yourself some pain later on.
For example, mashed potatoes can trigger heartburn, but baked potatoes may not. When it comes to dairy products, the less fat the better. So limit butter and avoid sour cream.
But if you simply can't live without sour cream on your baked potato, choose a low-fat variety to limit acid reflux.
Eat light turkey, not dark
High-fat food can spell trouble if you're prone to heartburn, so do yourself a favor and skip the skin when it comes to turkey time.
Your best bet is to eat turkey breast and avoid oilier dark meat.
The same goes for gravy. If it's not fat free, it may be smarter to skip this dish.
Photo: Getty Images
How to end the meal
If you've made smart choices so far, don't get tripped up by the beverages or after-meal choices. In fact, choosing to drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages may trigger heartburn no matter what you eat.
The National Heartburn Alliance recommends mineral water as your safest bet; even nonalcoholic wine or beer can pose an intermediate risk. When choosing dessert, avoid chocolate (apple pie may be your best bet), and don't follow your meal with a cigarettea well-known heartburn trigger.
A post-meal walk is probably better than a nap, and when you do hit the pillow, make sure to sleep with your head elevated 6 to 8 inches to curb acid reflux.