Thanksgiving is probably the most anticipated meal of the year, but it can cause serious discomfort for people who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This year, plan your Thanksgiving menu early to help minimize troublesome symptoms from acid reflux. .
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, 20 percent of Americans have GERD. There is no single cause for the condition, but it is characterized by a weak muscle between the esophagus and stomach. The most common symptoms of GERD are regurgitation and heartburn, but not everyone with GERD experiences both symptoms.
National GERD Awareness Week
November 20-26 is National GERD Awareness Week, a time for people who experience symptoms of GERD to seek medical treatment. This year, Thanksgiving falls on the Thursday within National GERD Awareness! If you or a family member has GERD, you can create a GERD-friendly holiday meal that can reduce painful heartburn.
As you plan your menu and shopping list, remember the common GERD trigger foods, which include:
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Carbonated drinks
- Fatty foods
- Spicy foods
- Fried foods
Tips to avoid heartburn on Thanksgiving Day
You can also make some strategic decisions about the Thanksgiving meal to prevent GERD symptoms. Many traditional dishes like mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and candied sweet potatoes are high in fat and may aggravate heartburn. Consider replacing casseroles with steamed or roasted vegetables seasoned with olive oil and fresh herbs.
Timing is also important. Experts suggest eating earlier in the day to allow more time to digest the meal. Alcohol is a heartburn trigger for many people, so you may want to avoid alcohol or just have a small glass of wine with your early meal. Instead of an after-dinner coffee or glass of spirits, consider drinking a soothing cup of herbal tea.
Seek prompt treatment for GERD symptoms
It is easy to make excuses for heartburn, but delaying GERD diagnosis and treatment could pose serious health risks. Untreated GERD can cause chest pain or a narrowing of the esophagus called a stricture. It can also cause pre-cancerous changes to the esophageal lining called Barrett’s esophagus.
Make an appointment with your gastroenterologist
Contact your gastroenterologist if you experience persistent heartburn, regurgitation, or any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling that food is trapped behind the chest
- Choking or wheezing
- Weight loss
Your doctor can recommend lifestyle modifications and medication, if necessary. Call today to make an appointment to discuss your symptoms.