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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

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Tackling Holiday Heartburn

Holiday feasts are close to our hearts, all those favorite comfort foods. But why make heartburn part of the yearly tradition? Here's a game plan for tackling indigestion head-on.

Taming the Heartburn Beast continued...

Here are some over-the-counter heartburn medicines:

  • Antacids like Tums and Rolaids neutralize stomach acid to relieve heartburn, sour stomach, acid indigestion, and stomach upset. These include Tums, Rolaids, and Maalox.
  • Acid blockers reduce the production of stomach acid. They include Axid AR, Pepcid AC, Prilosec OTC, Tagamet HB, and Zantac 75.

For severe heartburn that isn't relieved by these medications -- or for anyone who has been using them for more than two weeks -- prescription medicine may be necessary. The prescription forms of Axid, Pepcid, Prilosec, Tagamet, and Zantac contain higher doses than the OTC versions. Prescription versions of Prevacid and Nexium, as well as others, are also effective.

8 Tips to Control Heartburn

There's no getting around it -- to rein in heartburn, you simply can't eat so much, says Elaine Magee, MPH, RD. Magee is WebMD Weight Loss Clinic's 'Recipe Doctor' and author of the book, Tell Me What to Eat if I Have Acid Reflux.

"It's hard but once you get used to eating only until you're full, you get used to it," Magee tells WebMD. "It becomes much easier to stop at those holiday meals. You don't like that uncomfortable feeling anymore."

One trick, she says, is to use small plates. "At holiday parties, people tend to set out appetizer plates. Just don't pile lots of food on that little plate. I've seen people do that."

Magee offers a few more tips:

  • Know thyself. Know the foods that irritate your stomach, the ones that trigger heartburn, and steer clear of them. These tend to be onions, chocolate, citrus juices, tomatoes, soft drinks, coffee, alcohol.
  • Don't eat too close to bedtime. Stop eating four hours before you hit the sheets.
  • Be selective. If you don't like green bean casserole, pass it up. Go for what you really want but make it a moderate-sized portion.
  • Savor small bites. Think of yourself as a wine taster -- the first couple of sips are for tasting, savoring. Really experience the food. You don't need to eat a whole plate of coconut shrimp, eat just one.
  • Fix one plate, and don't pile it high. You want to save room for a sliver of dessert.
  • Ask for a to-go plate. Most hosts are more than happy to send food home with guests. You can enjoy the same delicious dinner again - the next day, when you're hungry enough to enjoy it.
  • Take a walk after dinner. It's a good habit to get into, because it helps food digest - which prevents heartburn.
  • Don't wear tight pants. Tight pants can keep appetite under control, which is certainly a plus. But they constrict your stomach, which makes heartburn more likely.

"I don't want to constantly remind myself that I'm supposed to lose weight, or that I'm overweight, or that I have to regulate myself," Magee tells WebMD. "I believe in eating when you're hungry, stopping when you're comfortable. That leaves room for enjoyment."

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