Thanksgiving is just about here, and whether you want to or not, you’re probably going to indulge yourself just a little.
And you should. This is a time to celebrate with friends and family you may not have seen in a year and enjoy some of your favorite foods that only appear for a limited window.
The truth is that a few days of overeating isn’t going to lead to long-term weight gain or sabotage your life. But it can lead to some discomfort if you experience acid reflux, also known as heartburn. You know, that burning in your chest that can show up after a big meal.
Most people experience the occasional bout of heartburn. If you get it more than twice weekly, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In addition to heartburn, GERD can come along with difficulty swallowing, wheezing, coughing, or chest pain.
There are lifestyle factors that can impact the risk for heartburn and GERD. Being overweight or obese, diabetic, pregnant, or a smoker can all increase the risk.
But if you don’t have GERD and just looking to avoid an episode of heartburn this Thanksgiving weekend, here are some things to try:
- Eat mindfully: Taking time to chew every bite slowly and taste your food entirely is one way to curb the risk of heartburn. Chew each small mouthful 20-40 times before swallowing, and put utensils down while you chew.
- Avoid piling it on: When you haven’t seen some of your favorite foods in a year, it can be tempting to pile a mountain of them on your plate. Don’t. Fill your plate accordingly – about a third with turkey, a third with some sweet potato, a third with some greens, and another third with whatever else is on the spread.
Once you’re finished, give yourself about 30 minutes to see if you’re actually still hungry.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing: Wear something that isn’t constricting. Loosen your belt a few notches if you need to!
- Avoid lying down: A big Thanksgiving feast can make you tired, but lying down can boost the risk of heartburn. Try going out for a leisurely stroll with a family member to aid digestion, and do your best to avoid lying down on the sofa.