I Get Heartburn During the Holidays -- What Gives?
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I Get Heartburn During the Holidays -- What Gives?

Expert advice on what's causing your heartburn and how you can prevent it.

Q. I get heartburn only at this time of year. Besides giving up all of my favorite holiday dishes, what can I do?

A. A number of things, actually. "Heartburn is stomach acid going upstream, and rich food is just one cause of it," explains Joel Richter, MD, a gastroenterologist and chair of medicine at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. "The bigger, longer, and later the meal, the more the acid will come back on you." Alcohol, which slows digestion, is also a contributing factor. Dr. Richter's advice: Eat and drink in moderation, don't linger for hours at the table, and try to wait at least three hours before lying down. If that sounds like humbug to you, take a preventive over-the-counter histamine-2 blocker such as Zantac 75 or Pepcid AC to reduce the acid that your stomach produces.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November/December 2009.