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3 Ways to Avoid Holiday Heartburn

Turkey and white wine are two of your more heartburn-friendly options for your holiday dinner. (Photo courtesy Blaine Moats)

Looking forward to indulging in some red wine, a few pigs in a blanket and your family's famous Christmas morning spicy shrimp grits? Not if you are one of the fifty million Americans who suffer from heartburn, says Dr. Su Sachar, a gastroenterologist based in LA. These are just a few of the things that can trigger holiday heartburn, among others like chocolate (the horror!), alcohol, garlic and peppermint. So how exactly is one supposed to make it through the buffet without breathing fire into 2013? Try Dr. Sachar's tips below:

  • Know the triggers: Aside from foods that are tomato-based, fried, spicy, fatty and citrusy, stress can also be a trigger as it often makes someone turn to fatty foods or toss back a few glasses of wine to chill out. But the most surprising trigger is exercise. "Certain exercises put pressure on the abdomen and push the stomach into the esophagus, contributing to heartburn symptoms," Dr. Sachar says. "For example, cyclists tend to get heartburn from hunching over handlebars. But that doesn't mean you have to skip the gym! Exercising is good for stress levels and avoiding weight gain, both of which contribute to heartburn. Just go easy on the abs and try yoga or low impact cardio if you feel a flare up coming on."
  • Navigate the dinner table: "Stay away from the fried and cheesy appetizers and focus on protein," Dr. Sachar says.  "Chicken skewers and salads without raw onions or tomatoes are safe bets. Skip buttery mashed potatoes in favor of baked potatoes or sweet potatoes and light turkey meat over fatty beef or lamb." As for dessert, Sachar says angel food cake, sugar and oatmeal cookies and apple pie will hit the spot without feeling the burn later. When it comes to wine, opt for white.
  • Be proactive: If you suffer from heartburn symptoms two or more days a week, consider Prilosec OTC. One pill each morning can treat frequent heartburn for up to 24 hours, so you can enjoy your holiday feast.

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