I can’t believe I ate all that!

3 tips for avoiding holiday heartburn and indigestion

You can try to avoid it, but it inevitably happens — holiday indigestion. Why, why, why do we do this to ourselves?

“Indigestion caused by overeating can be downright uncomfortable,” said Shelley Wooldridge, APRN, with NortonGastroenterology Consultants of Louisville. “The stomach always createsacid — that’s normal; however, overeating causes the stomach to expand. Thisexpansion creates pressure that allows stomach acid to easily enter theesophagus. This is what ultimately leads to indigestion.”

Symptoms of heartburn can include:

A burning feeling in your chest just behind thebreastbone; it can last a few minutes or several hours

Chest pain, especially after bending over, lyingdown or eating

Burning in your throat; or a hot, sour, acidicor salty-tasting fluid at the back of your throat

Trouble swallowing

Feeling of food “sticking” in the middle of yourchest or throat

What can you do to prevent holiday heartburn and indigestion? Here are three tips:

1. Avoid heartburn and indigestion triggers. Unfortunately, most of the triggers are in the things we tend to overindulge in during the holidays, such as:

Spicy foods

Greasy foods


Tomato-based foods and drinks

Carbonated beverages



2. Balance your plate with a combination of carbohydrates and proteins. Even though we may crave carbohydrates, those foods don’t keep us feeling full like lean proteins do. By balancing your meal with a healthy combination of foods, you will be less likely to keep eating throughout the day — and overdoing it.

3. Slow down and enjoy everything, including the conversation. We tend to overdo it when we eat too fast, so take your time and enjoy the food, the family and the friends. Eating slowly allows time for your stomach to alert your brain that it is full. And when you feel full, stop.

If you do find yourself in misery, Wooldridge recommends a fast-acting over-the-counter chewable antacid.

Wooldridge warns that if you suffer from frequent heartburn and indigestion more than just around the holidays, it may be time to consult your doctor or a gastroenterology specialist.

“If you are fighting symptoms daily or multiple times per week for over a month, consult your physician,” she said. “There can be harmful effects from increased acid in your stomach traveling up into your esophagus, which would need to be treated.”

Learn more about digestive diseases.

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