Halloween Candy Without the Heartburn
Have goodies without GERD
Candy isn't exactly healthy for anyone–but sweet treats can make for a particularly miserable night for heartburn sufferers. "When it's not treated, chronic heartburn can have serious consequences. The good news is that heartburn and GERD are things you can control," says Pat Baird, RD, and board member of the National Heartburn Alliance.
Certain foods trigger heartburn in some patients and not others, but Baird lists citrus products, fatty foods, chocolate, and peppermint as common heartburn triggers. Besides avoiding certain foods, scare heartburn away from your haunted house by leaving the spandex costume at home. Tight, constrictive clothing may cause GERD symptoms. And if a chocolate binge happens, Baird recommends avoiding lying down two to three hours after eating.
Here, she gives us tips to sort through the tricks and treats in the candy bowl.
Treat: Candy corn
Twenty-two pieces of this fat-free, colorful candy will cost you 140 calories. Though it’s high in sugar, Baird says it’s unlikely to cause heartburn symptoms.
An excess of fat triggers GERD symptoms, so Baird recommends you stay away from chocolate, a known trigger of heartburn. Studies show eating it may release serotonin, which causes the lower esophageal sphincter to relax and allows acid to back up into the esophagus. Plus Snickers contains nuts, which add up to 3.7 grams of fat in a fun-size bar. And who stops at one?
Treat: Sour Patch Kids
Though your face may pucker at the thought of these sour treats, Baird gives them the go-ahead: "The sour comes from flavorings, not citrus products."
Though they are a fat-free candy, peppermint has been known to trigger GERD symptoms. Avoid mints and brush your teeth to avoid ghoulish breath. And don’t fret if you love York Peppermint Patties; Baird says they're OK (in moderation, of course).
Treat: Gummy bears
Another fat-free candy, 28 of these adorable nibbles will set you back 130 calories. Like candy corn, they’re high in sugar, and though they won’t trigger GERD, they’re not 100% diet friendly.
Treat: Hershey's Kisses
If a chocolate craving sneaks up on you, indulge wisely. Baird suggests trying a few Hershey's Kisses or Dove Promises. "Have two or three of these and then walk away," Baird says. "It's a lot less likely you'll be suffering later."
Tricky treat: Gum and hard candy
These candies get a good reputation as GERD-friendly treats. However, Baird warns that they may be an indirect trigger. Chewing gum and sucking on hard candy increases the likelihood you'll swallow air, which increases the likelihood you'll get indigestion or gas.
"Every time you burp, you bring up acid. Indigestion may have a cluster of symptoms, including heartburn," Baird explains. So if you suffer from indigestion, you may want to avoid them.
Trick: King-size candy bars
Baird discourages these larger-than-life chocolate treats: "Five to seven ounces [of chocolate] is really deadly—for waistlines and heartburn." So stick to portion-controlled packages to ensure a heartburn-free night.
Four Twizzlers pieces are only 160 calories and 1 gram of fat. Take your time peeling them, so you'll eat slowly and your body will have plenty of time to digest them.