You're faced with mouthwatering holiday spreads ranging from eggnog and rich desserts to fancy appetizers and tempting entrees. Yet when you imbibe, you have that telltale burning sensation that creeps up from your throat, causing major discomfort and making you feel like your insides are on fire. Fortunately, you can happily celebrate the holidays without dealing with the agony of heartburn.
Here are some natural ways to avoid heartburn through the festive season and all year round. But first, consult a doctor to make sure your heartburn isn't a symptom of something more serious.
Watch what you eat
It sounds simple, and it is. For some people, heartburn is triggered by specific foods. Try keeping a food log of everything you eat and when your symptoms are at their worst. It could be that your heartburn is caused by common food triggers like citrus fruits or spicy foods and all it takes to curb them is practicing a little avoidance. Other common culinary triggers include tomatoes, garlic and onion, high-fat foods, alcohol, coffee, chocolate, peppermint, and caffeinated or carbonated drinks.
Don't lie down
To avoid heartburn, don't lie down for at least an hour or two after you eat. (Photo: Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock)
Try to stay upright for at least an hour after eating. Lying down can actually make the heartburn worse. This reduces the chances that acid will creep up into your esophagus, says WebMD. You should also avoid bending over or straining to lift heavy objects. Just take it easy after you eat. Pediatricians often suggest this for babies who spit up a lot. Lying down typically produces lots of spit-up and sometimes crying. Infants who cry and spit up a lot after eating are sometimes diagnosed with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which you could have if you’re having bouts with heartburn a few times a week and are popping antacids like candy. Be sure to check with your doctor.
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Eat less, more often
Try eating smaller, more frequent meals and eat those meals slowly, to see if it helps your heartburn. When your stomach is very full, it can cause the valve between your stomach and esophagus (called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES) to relax, says Health. That pushes stomach acids back up into your esophagus.
Wear comfy pants
Here's an excuse to live in your sweatpants for a while. Tight clothes, especially around your waist, can put pressure on your stomach. That unpleasant feeling can trigger heartburn symptoms.
Relax when you eat
Relax and enjoy yourself when you eat. It will help avoid heartburn. (Photo: Syda Productions/Shutterstock)
Holidays can be stressful. Even if you're freaking out about all the things on your mental to-do list, take a deep breath, slow down, and relax. Feeling stressed when you eat can trigger your stomach to produce more acid.
Change your sleep style
If you have an adjustable bed, raise your head about 6-8 inches to help drain stomach acids when you sleep. If your bed's the normal kind, use a foam wedge or prop up the head of your bed on special blocks. Just using extra pillows doesn't have the same effect.
Try natural remedies
Some people swear by aloe vera juice, which doesn’t have any roots in scientific evidence but does have a long history of use in Europe to soothe heartburn. Try 1/4 cup of aloe vera juice 20 minutes before you eat a meal.
Licorice is also said to help relieve the symptoms of heartburn. Not the kind that comes in the candy aisle, though. Chewable DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) is a form of the herb licorice that has the glycyrrhizin removed because it is associated with high blood pressure and water retention. You can find it in health food stores and sometimes even in the vitamin aisle of your grocery store.
You can also try ginger and chamomile, two super herbs that provide a host of benefits. Ginger is often used to treat nausea but may be effective in treating heartburn as well. Chamomile may help your heartburn, but is most often used for stress relief.
Even simpler, try chewing gum. When you chew gum, you produce saliva, which can wash acid down into your stomach and soothe your esophagus.