GERD Tips for Thanksgiving: Q&A with Dr. Samuel Kallus

This week is GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) Awareness Week! GERD is a more serious form of what is commonly referred to as heartburn or acid reflux. It’s estimated that up to 20 percent of Americans have this GI condition.

The Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching and many Americans are looking forward to indulging in a festive meal. We turned to Capital Digestive Care’s Dr. Samuel Kallus to discuss common symptoms and tips to manage GERD during Thanksgiving.

What are the most common GERD triggers?
The most common triggers for gastroesophageal reflux include tomato-based foods, alcohol, citrus fruits, chocolate, and peppermint.

What advice would you give to your patients who suffer from GERD to help them have an enjoyable holiday season?
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to be with friends and family! Sometimes our eyes can be bigger than our stomachs, which can lead to overeating followed by a quick move to the reclining chair to watch some football. Turkey and stuffing should not cause significant reflux but watch out for the above-mentioned ingredients, specifically tomatoes. Also, try not to lie down immediately after eating, which will likely lead to significant heartburn.

What are some GERD-friendly Thanksgiving foods?
Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green beans and salad should leave you full and heartburn free. Try to avoid overeating.

When should someone see a specialist for GERD symptoms?
If you are experiencing heartburn that does not respond to anti-acid medications or is causing inability to perform regular daily activities, you should see a specialist. Other symptoms to watch out for include coughing, difficulty swallowing, or frequent throat clearing, which could be signs of more significant reflux.

Are there any lifestyle changes that can help improve GERD symptoms?
Avoid late night eating (ideally no food within 3 hours of going to sleep), overeating, and lying down shortly after a big meal, all of which predispose to reflux. Weight loss will also minimize reflux.

Click here to learn more about GERD and here to request an appointment with one our GI specialists.