Too much rich food, alcohol and festive stress can trigger reflux symptoms, including heartburn, belching, bloating, unpleasant acid taste and nausea.
Here’s our 10 top tips for surviving the Christmas season
1 Know your food triggers
Avoid eating foods which you know cause you symptoms – it’s often the same troublesome foods that are known to trigger heartburn or reflux. High-fat foods and acidic foods can lead to an increase in reflux symptoms, so go easy on roast potatoes in goose fat or the cranberry sauce if these lead to issues.
2 Eat smaller portions
Christmas is a time for fine food and celebrating, but eating big meals can increase the time it takes to digest food leading to higher concentrations of both acid and pepsin being present in your stomach. The increased pressure caused by the presence of the heavy meal may cause this to escape up into the oesophagus and the airways.
3 Avoid after meal naps or eating late
Stretching out for a snooze after a Christmas dinner is hard to resist but it’s best to upright after eating. When you lie flat, it’s much easier for stomach contents to backflow into your oesophagus and up into the airways. It can a take few hours for your stomach to empty after a meal, so eating shortly before bedtime won’t help either.
4 Eat slower
When you eat quickly, the body doesn’t get a chance to signal to the brain that you are getting full – so people who eat too quickly tend to overeat. It has also been reported that a study of 10 healthy people asked to eat a 690-calorie meal in either five or 30 minutes found that those who ate faster had 12.5 episodes of reflux compared with 8.5 in those who ate more slowly.
5 Cut back on booze
Many of us enjoy a glass of sherry or two, but alcohol can trigger reflux symptoms. One study has shown that the severity of reflux symptoms increased when people increased their alcohol intake. Drinking can also make your stomach produce more acid than usual and can irritate the stomach’s sensitive lining.
6 Avoid smoking
Some studies have linked smoking to reflux symptoms. Nicotine is thought to relax the stomach valve in the lower oesophagus that prevents stomach contents from refluxing into the oesophagus. Tobacco smoke contains toxins and chemicals that can irritate the cells that make up the lining of the oesophagus.
7 Keep hydrated
Your body needs water to work properly and aids the digestive process. Some say that alkaline water, which is water that has been treated to have a higher pH level than the 6.5-7.5 pH range of most tap and bottled water, can reduce their reflux symptoms.
8 Be prepared
The festive season is a special time of the year where it’s nice to relax and enjoy a few indulgent treats. If you know you suffer from post-meal heartburn, you can relieve your symptoms with reflux medication, including antacids and alginates. Products, such as Gaviscon Double Action, form a raft on top of stomach contents to prevent reflux and neutralises stomach acids for indigestion relief./
9 Maintain a good posture
Avoid slumping or bending during festivities – an upright and correctly seated posture during and after eating will reduce the symptoms of reflux disease. Studies indicate that the positioning of the body during a meal can affect the parts of the body that aid in digestion.
10 Loosen your clothes
Perhaps it’s time to invest in a loose-fitting Christmas jumper! It’s best to avoid wearing tight fitting clothes, especially around your waist as these can cause extra pressure on the stomach. Some experts also believe that wearing tight clothes often makes the stomach feel more gaseous.