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America Asks About Heartburn & GERD

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Cooking Tips for Heartburn-Friendly Meals

Having heartburn doesn’t mean you have to give up eating well.

Heartburn-Friendly Meals: Trim Down Portion Sizes

Perhaps the most effective way of preventing heartburn is to limit portion size. “The bigger the meal, the greater the risk of reflux,” says Yale University gastroenterologist Anish Sheth, MD. It’s easy for portion sizes to creep up in the kitchen. Magee advises:

  • Use measuring cups to limit how much you cook.
  • Dine on smaller plates so that less still looks like a lot.
  • Go for intensity over quantity. For example, if you love chocolate -- frequently cited as a heartburn trigger -- enjoy a small square of dark chocolate instead of a big chocolaty dessert.

Heartburn-Friendly Meals: Serve Water With Meals

“Drinking water can help dilute stomach acids and reduce the risk of reflux,” says Sheth. “Water can also soothe the burn when heartburn strikes by washing stomach acids out of the esophagus.”

Avoid carbonated water. Carbonated water can increase stomach pressure and lead to belching. Belching causes the valve at the top of the stomach to open, which increases the likelihood of acid reflux and heartburn.

Heartburn-Friendly Meals: Make Meals a Leisurely Affair

Eating too fast can lead to overeating. That increases pressure on the valve at the top of the stomach. Eating just before bedtime also adds to the danger of reflux, since your stomach is likely to be full when you lie down.

“Plan meals at home early enough to allow three hours before bedtime -- plenty of time for the stomach to clear its contents,” advises Lauren Gerson, MD, a gastroenterologist at Stanford University.

  • After a big meal, encourage family members to get up and get moving rather than stretching out on the sofa. Being upright helps keep food from refluxing.
  • And of course, a brisk walk around the neighborhood instead of half an hour of television can also help control your weight, another important way to put out the fire of heartburn.
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Reviewed on January 23, 2009
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