December – Happy Healthy Holidays!
Heartburn and the holidays
Heartburn never gets invited to anyone’s holiday parties. But the burning pain still shows up to many a feast and celebration. That’s because the winter holidays overflow with heartburn-causing foods, drinks, and habits.
Leave the party-pooping indigestion at home this season by avoiding or simply minimizing these 6 sources of holiday heartburn:
Fat-filled foods: Put down that gravy boat! Festive but high-fat foods – like fried latkes, eggnog, cocktail weenies, and all sorts of creamy and cheesy treats – take longer to digest. This gives acid plenty of time to find its way back up into your esophagus and trigger that burning sensation. Share desserts with a friend or relative, take sauces “on the side,” and prepare foods using healthier oils, lower-fat dairy products, and leaner meats.
The chocolate effect: You’ll find chocolate everywhere during the holidays – wrapped in gold foil, coating pretzels, squeezed into flaky pastries, and spread across cakes. But like candy-cane peppermint, chocolate can relax and loosen your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle that acts as a doorway between your stomach and your esophagus, allowing stomach acid to reach your esophagus and cause heartburn. Be choosy with chocolate, selecting your very favourite treat and savouring small bits rather than gorging and regretting.
Causes by the cupful: Sipping on cocoa, coffee, or tea by the fire sounds snug, doesn’t it? Beware if your favourite cozy cup contains caffeine, which can activate acids and unsettle your stomach. Do the decaf thing and your LES will thank you for it.
Bad news booze: You’re practically begging for heartburn when you pour alcohol into the holiday mix. Whether you opt for a hot toddy or spiked eggnog, drinking alcohol can relax your LES and allow acid to slosh back up where it doesn’t belong. Alcohol also ups your overall acid factor and can irritate your esophagus. Drink moderately or dilute your drinks, and avoid gulping alcoholic beverages during meals. The large meal-drink combo boosts your heartburn risk even more.
Grinching out: All is not calm during the holidays, and the season’s stress can take its toll on digestion. Too much tension may affect how smoothly food moves through your system or make you more sensitive to the pain of heartburn. But stress can also cause us to give in to bad, heartburn-triggering habits, like indulging in high-fat foods or relying on caffeine for energy. No matter how hectic the holiday season, give yourself the gift of balance by taking time to relax and to exercise.
Choking on smoke: A hazy holiday party can set heartburn ablaze, whether you’re a social smoker or a non-smoker. Studies show cigarette smoke relaxes the LES and allows stomach acid back into the esophagus to set off a heartburn inferno. Smoking may also affect saliva, which usually helps to neutralize acid.
Certain foods and drinks are safer bets than others. Add these items to your anti-heartburn menu.
Ask Your Pharmacist
Question: How do I stay healthy during the holidays?
Answer: Planning ahead can help you to eat healthy and stay healthy during the holidays. Try choosing healthy substitutes such as using almond milk or skim milk in eggnog in place of whole milk or heavy cream. Consider using smaller dishes when you’re trying to eat in moderation as you’re scooping up your favourite dish. Sticking to a schedule like having breakfast, lunch and dinner around certain times and minimize snacking in between can help you stay healthy during the holiday season. Setting limits for yourself for chocolate, desserts, fat-filled foods and alcohol will also help keep you on track. Don’t forget about keeping up with your exercise routines too. Staying active during the holidays can help burn off a few extra calories.
Speak to your Pharmasave pharmacist today.
The holiday season can be quite stressful with many family holiday activities. It’s important to remember selfcare and set some time aside to relax to decrease stress levels. It’s helpful to prioritize work and personal activities by making a list, plan how to use your time and create a schedule and stick to it to decrease your stress levels. Don’t forget to also take breaks and ask for help when you need it.
All material © 1996-2013 MediResource Inc. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.