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    Annie Stuart

    Annie Stuart is a freelance writer and copy editor. In addition to WebMD, she has done work for Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, ISSUES in Science and Technology, The American Academy of Ophthalmology, and WestEd.

    Stuart has also worked for the American Cancer Society, the Schwab Foundation, PositScience, and Vocal Impact. She spent 12 years on staff at Krames communications.

    Stuart attended Luther College.

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    Got Bad Heartburn? Make These Changes

    Do you often get heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux? One of the first things to try for relief is to make some simple changes in your diet and other everyday habits.

    1. Revamp Your Meals

    Think “more and mini.” Eat more often, but cut back on your portions. Smaller meals are easier on your stomach because they put less pressure on the valve that connects your esophagus and stomach.

    Pace yourself. Stop eating before you get too full. It helps if you eat slower, since you may not feel full until 15-20 minutes after you start to eat. 

    Don't eat then sleep. Stop eating at least 2 or 3 hours before lying down.

    2. Outsmart Your Triggers

    Notice -- and avoid -- foods or drinks that seem to bring on or worsen your heartburn. These may include:

    • Coffee or tea (both regular and decaffeinated)
    • Anything that’s fizzy or has caffeine in it
    • Alcohol
    • Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons
    • Tomatoes and products that contain tomatoes, such as tomato sauce and salsa
    • Chocolate
    • Mint or peppermint
    • Fatty foods
    • Spicy foods
    • Onions and garlic

    3. Solve It While You Snooze

    These steps will help reduce reflux when you sleep:

    • Put blocks under the legs at the head of your bed to raise it at least 6 to 8 inches. This helps keep your stomach's contents down. Don’t just pile on more pillows. It doesn’t work, because this position may put more pressure on your belly.
    • If you want a nap, curl up in a chair instead of in bed. Sleeping in a more upright position can help.

    4. Loosen Up

    Don’t wear tight clothes or tight belts. Often, extra pressure around your belly ramps up acid reflux.

    5. Take a Load Off

    If you’re overweight, lose some of those extra pounds. It will ease pressure on your stomach.

    6 Kick the Habit

    If you smoke, stop. Smoking may make it harder to keep stomach acid down. It can take several tries to kick the habit for good, so hang in there and keep trying! Your doctor can help.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on September 09, 2021

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