GERD Awareness and Thanksgiving week

Time to eat and drink wisely

Each year during the week of Thanksgiving, Nov. 20-26, Riverwood Healthcare Center recognizes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a national health care observance designed to raise awareness, provide education, and connect those who are suffering from GERD to resources and care.

Here are 15 suggestions for curbing GERD symptoms during the Thanksgiving holiday:

  • Schedule an earlier meal. It’s best not to eat late at night if you suffer from GERD.
  • Serve light appetizers. Fatty foods like chips, dips, and cheeses are slow to empty from the stomach and more likely to aggravate symptoms.
  • Stay active. Stick with your exercise routine during the holidays, as weight loss can help alleviate GERD symptoms.
  • Don’t smoke. Nicotine weakens the muscles within your food pipe that prevent backflow (reflux) of stomach contents.
  • Nix the juice. Citrus fruits and juices, like grapefruit, orange, and tomato, are acidic and can worsen GERD symptoms.
  • Season lightly. Spicy foods, as well as things like onions and garlic, often bother people with GERD and make heartburn worse.
  • Limit your drinks. Whether wine at dinner or beer during the game, alcohol can worsen reflux.
  • Pass on deep frying your turkey. Fried foods are known to exacerbate GERD symptoms.
  • Use smaller plates. Eating large meals can trigger symptoms, so try smaller meals spread throughout the day.
  • Substitute water for soda. Caffeinated and carbonated beverages are both notorious heartburn aggravators.
  • Watch the desserts. Chocolate might be a favorite, but it often bothers people with GERD.
  • Skip the after-dinner mint. Peppermint is another heartburn irritant.
  • Slow down. Physical exertion after a meal can lead to reflux.
  • Stay awake! While the turkey might make you sleepy, fight the urge take a nap. Lying down within 3 hours after eating a big meal can cause GERD symptoms to flare up.
  • Talk to your doctor. An accurate diagnosis is the first step to receiving the most effective treatment.

When to seek medical care
Heartburn or acid reflux that occurs more than once a week, worsens, or continues over time may signal a more serious condition like GERD, and justifies talking with a doctor to determine how best to manage symptoms.

Our reflux specialists/general surgeons—Dr. Andrew Loveitt, Dr. Tim LeMieur and Dr. Shawn Roberts—with the Minnesota Reflux & Heartburn Center in Aitkin and Crosby are leaders in the region, offering comprehensive diagnostic testing and innovative treatment solutions, including the latest surgical options with emphasis on minimally invasive procedures.

For a consultation or appointment with a GERD specialist, call Dawn Harcey, RN/GI clinical coordinator, 218-429-3930.