Jan Gambino Jan Gambino's Blog

Holiday Survivial Guide for Adults with GERD

The winter holiday season is packed with shopping and celebrations. If you have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), it can be a real challenge to navigate the mall and the buffet table without eating foods that trigger reflux symptoms. I have put together my list of top tips to survive holiday eating when you have GERD without missing all of the fun.

Tip#1 Careful eating at the buffet table and office party.

It is likely you will attend an elegant celebration with friends or co workers over the holidays. While it is tempting to eat all of the food and really enjoy yourself, your stomach may regret it later in the form of heartburn and painful backwashing. It is possible to carefully nibble at the buffet table and even have some dessert too. Remember to eat small portions and refrain from going back for more. If there is a food that really triggers symptoms, you may have to avoid it altogether.

If you find that your stomach digests better with small, frequent meals or according to a particular schedule, try to keep to the eating plan that works as much as possible. Try not to skip a meal or eat a large meal late at night.

An event held at a restaurant is best because it gives you the option of making careful choices to decrease symptoms. Since restaurant portions are generally overly generous, eat a reasonable amount and bring home the rest to enjoy the next day.

Tip #2 Eat without offending the host. Perhaps your neighbor has spent the day preparing for a holiday open house and proudly presents her signature dish to you. You certainly want to have fun and honor your host but you know the food will cause discomfort later on. Be sure to comment on how wonderful the dish looks and have a nibble if you can. If not, politely decline by saying, “Sorry, my doctor has me on a strict diet.” Or,” My doctor said I can’t.”

Tip#3 Careful drinking is as important as careful eating. Drinks containing alcohol (beer, wine, liquor), caffeine (coffee, tea, hot cocoa, cola) and carbonation (soda, seltzer) are most likely to trigger reflux symptoms. Have a sip if you must and then switch to a different drink.

It is important to stay hydrated in the winter when you might not be as thisty as the warm weather. The extra fluids will help you digest your food better too. If you find it difficult to drink cold water in the winter, try herbal tea, chicken broth or hot cider instead.

Tip #4 Bring snacks to work and the mall. Bringing your own snack will keep you from getting too hungry, leading to the temptation to buy an unhealthy snack or meal at the mall. Visit the organics/health food aisle of your local food store and try a new healthy snack. Ideas: dried fruit, pretzels, veggie chips and puffed corn. Some taste like cardboard with salt, others are quite delicious and will give you some crunch and satisfaction. Practice the fine art of eating slowly. Take a break at the mall and sit on a bench, look at your shopping list and nibble on your snack.

Tip #4 Keep your rescue medication nearby just in case. Whether you are at work, shopping or traveling, be sure to bring your doctor approved over the counter rescue medication just in case you have some discomfort.

Tip #5 Keep to your treatment plan. The holidays are an important time to take your daily medications and vitamins, sleep on an elevated surface even if you are bunking down at your in laws house and avoid eating a big meal late at night. And most of all, don’t forget to pack your medication before going over the river and through the woods to grandmothers house.

Tip#6 De stress. Do whatever it takes to reduce holiday stress. More than likely, your stomach will be calling you when you are stressed. Some great stress reducers include: exercise, listening to music, talking to a friend or watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the 19th time.

Tip#7 Wear loose comfortable clothing. You know you are going to indulge a little and see if you can trick your stomach into accepting just another plate of food from the buffet table. Be sure to wear your most elegant party clothes with a loose fitting waistline or a loose belt. Wearing tight clothes will only add to your stomach discomfort.

Tip#8 Give away the food gifts that you cannot eat. Your co workers or the local food bank will appreciate receiving foods that you cannot eat from the gift basket or the mega box of chocolate.

Happy Holidays!


Check with your
doctor first!