Thursday, May 17, 2012

Heartburn on a Checkered Tablecloth

     Who doesn’t like summer? The warm weather, beach vacations, cookouts, and acid reflux. Wait—acid reflux? If you suffer from occasional heartburn or acid reflux, picnic tables chock-full of fried chicken, hamburgers, and chocolate pie could be a digestive nightmare.

     That chocolate pie with mint garnish may relax a part of your esophagus (the tube between the throat and stomach) and let acid flow upward. Fatty foods like fried chicken and rib eye steak put pressure on the esophageal sphincter (mouth-like muscle), making heartburn a sure thing. And that gin and tonic? Don’t even think about it. Alcohol increases stomach acid.

     Heartburn is a fiery sensation in your chest that you usually get after eating. It gets worse when you lie down or bend over. Occasional heartburn (less than once a week) is not a big deal, and an antacid should do the trick. But frequent acid reflux, known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which occurs two to three times a week, is another matter. Left untreated, GERD can harm the esophagus. One way to curb heartburn and acid reflux is lifestyle modification—and that means passing up on some picnic favorites.

What to avoid:
  • Acidic fruits like oranges and grapefruits, especially when eaten on an empty stomach 
  • Tomatoes, garlic, and onion 
  • Pepper, spices, and mint 
  • Mustard, ketchup, and vinegar 
  • Wine, beer, liquor, and soda 
  • Coffee and iced tea 
  • Fried and fatty foods 
  • Chocolate 

     Wow. What’s summer if you can’t have a hamburger topped with a tomato? Well, not all is lost. Ask your picnic host to set out these tasty options:
  • Grilled chicken or fish 
  • Pasta salad (not tossed with vinegar) 
  • Low-fat potato salad 
  • Apples and bananas 
  • Turkey sandwiches 
  • Non-carbonated, caffeine-free drinks; herbal tea (without mint); low-fat milk 

     You can still enjoy an occasional adult beverage, but try cutting white wine with club soda or drink lite beer—and limit consumption to one drink. It’s always best to talk to your doctor about how often you get heartburn and a recommended diet. Look, you can still enjoy the family barbeque—just without the red meat and sauce!

By Anne Gill

No comments:

Post a Comment