Thanksgiving is here, and with the holiday comes a flurry of excitement for men and women across the country. Thanksgiving is, hands down, one of our favorite holidays. It’s all the amazing food and time with family that Christmas provides, but without the stress of gift giving and an added increased emphasis on being grateful. For patients with GERD, however, Thanksgiving can be a difficult time of the year.

One of the best things about Thanksgiving is that it’s a holiday pretty much devoted to making and consuming copious amounts of feel-good classics like mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, turkey, and pie…ALL the pies. Although a holiday that centers around eating sounds like heaven to your average Joe, the reality is that navigating Thanksgiving when you suffer from GERD is a veritable nightmare. What others see as a day of feasting you know will likely be a day of restrictions and, in most cases, painful heartburn. Unfortunately there’s no way to magically make your GERD disappear for one day, but there are some simple ways to navigate Thanksgiving that can help you minimize your reflux.  

Remember That It’s About Quality, Not Quantity

Portion control is key for anyone with chronic reflux, but it’s especially important to remember on Thanksgiving. With so many delectable dishes in front of you, it can be easy to get excited and pile more onto your plate than you (and your lower esophageal sphincter) can handle. It’s absolutely fine to sample all your favorite dishes, but make sure that you’re cognizant of your portion sizes. Start with half as much as you think you want, eat it slowly, and go back for more later if you’re still hungry. Eating too much too fast is one of the fastest ways to trigger your reflux, and no one wants to deal with painful heartburn at the dinner table, especially with the whole family there!

Watch Out For Trigger Foods, And Load Up On Foods That Are Good For Reflux

One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself when Thanksgiving rolls around: know your top trigger foods going in to the holiday, and do everything you can to avoid them. Food is the number one trigger for heartburn, and every GERD patient has specific food triggers that really set their reflux off. Make sure you’ve identified these triggers before you head to Thanksgiving dinner, and try to avoid them if you can. If it helps, you can always bring some alternative dishes so you’re not reduced to just nibbling on the tradition Thanksgiving dishes that are actually good for reflux, like Turkey.

Strategically Time Your Meals

Eating later in the evening is never great, especially if you’re prone to night-time heartburn. If you’ve got the flexibility, try to opt for a Thanksgiving lunch or an early dinner to help avoid evening heartburn.

Holidays are always a tough time for patients with GERD, and Thanksgiving in particular is one that can really highlight how much you miss out on when you’re living with chronic reflux. No one should have to spend Thanksgiving on edge, worrying about whether or not their food decisions will result in agony and forced to come up with creative and often inconvenient alternative ways to navigate the holiday. If you want this Thanksgiving to be the last holiday you spend inconvenienced and bogged down by your GERD, schedule an appointment with our reflux specialists to discuss treatment options that will allow you to live your life unhindered by your reflux.