Tips for Avoiding Holiday Season Digestive Distress

The upcoming holiday season can be full of fun and happiness, or a gastric minefield for those with sensitive stomachs. Parties, traditional holiday foods, travel by car or plane, and celebration meals can trigger heartburn, acid reflux, stomach pain, gas, or diarrhea that will put more than a crimp in your plans.

Dr. Sunil Khurana, board-certified gastroenterologist and CEO at Premier Medical Group, offers some quick advice to people who want to celebrate but don’t want to suffer.

  1. Avoid eating too much. Too much food overloads your stomach, and your esophagus, causing heartburn or acid reflux. People often encourage guests to take large portions or return for seconds. If the resulting overload will slow down your system, causing constipation or stomach ache, it’s easier to push back from the table a little sooner.
  2. Bring your own dish. Khurana suggests that if the party is a potluck, bring something that you really like and that, if necessary, you can make most of your meal from your contribution. Broadway star Carol Channing is famous for bringing food in plastic containers to formal occasions, even to the White House, to avoid setting off her severe food allergies.
  3. If you are gluten or lactose intolerant. Let your host or hostess know and offer to bring something that you can eat. Search online for exciting gluten and lactose-free recipes. There are some good choices listed under “paleo” recipes as well.
  4. Eat and drink thoughtfully. Be a conscious eater; it’s easy when watching Bowl games to consume a bowl of something that you’ll regret later. Excess alcohol can also set off a very unhappy cascade of digestive discomfort. Consider what you can drink that may not include alcohol or limit your intake and nurse one glass over a long period.
  5. Don’t forget to exercise. Especially after eating. If you have a full stomach and stretch out for a nap, your mouth and stomach are level and it can provoke acid backing up and giving you heartburn or acid reflux. A good walk in the fresh air will help you digest better. Use your holiday days off to schedule some extra exercise.

Dr. Khurana says, “if you follow these tips, when the holidays are over, you will look back at the good time you had, and not regret the time you wasted feeling sick.” Patients wishing to make an appointment to discuss acid reflux, irritable bowel or other gastric disorders, can make an appointment by calling 845.471.9410.