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May 22, 2019  
HEARTBURN NEWS: Feature Story

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  • Keeping Acid Reflux from Marring Thanksgiving

    It’s All in the Portions: Keeping Acid Reflux from Marring the Thanksgiving Holiday


    November 21, 2006

    By: Jean Johnson for Reflux1

    “That’s the problem with the big Thanksgiving feast for me. I usually eat three small meals and two snacks and do just fine,” Lucille Day of Bend, Oregon said. “That way I can eat whatever I want; I just have to not overdo.

    “For me it’s not the rich foods that are so much of a concern, it’s this expectation that we all turn into turkeys and stuff ourselves. Last year, I wound up in pretty bad shape, so I don’t want to repeat that again.”
    Take Action
    Three Simple Tips on Keeping Thanksgiving Portions Under Wraps:
  • Use a smaller plate. Research says that we are more influenced by visual cues than we realize.
  • Eat slowly. Try putting your fork down between bites. It takes 20 minutes for our brains to register that we are full. That leaves plenty of time for visiting with loved ones.
  • Enjoy like a gourmet. Slowing down can give us a chance to notice the tastes, textures, and nuances of the often painstakingly-prepared Thanksgiving meal.

  • Day is on target, according to Ray Clouse, M.D., a Washington University gastroenterologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. “The simplest treatment for GERD [gastroesophageal reflux disease or acid reflux, as GERD is often called] revolves around some degree of lifestyle modification,” said Clouse. “The key is reducing pro-GERD factors: keep meals from being too large, don’t eat too much in a single sitting, and be careful not to overeat just before lying down.”

    The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) joins Clouse in its “JAMA Patient Page on Gastroesophageal Reflux” in recommending that people with reflux “decrease the size of portions at mealtime.”

    Try Making a Plan

    “What my doctor told me after last year after I got into trouble with my reflux is that I have to stick to my guns. She’s the one that suggested making a plan might help,” Day said. “So this year I’ve got a plan.

    “No skipping breakfast for starters. Lunch, too; I’m going to have it before I go. I’ll keep both of those meals small – just a little something like cereal and fruit in the morning and maybe some soup and crackers at lunch. That way when I reach the table I won’t be so hungry that I’ll want to overeat.”

    Day says she will be going to her daughter’s, and they usually eat in the middle of the afternoon during half time. “The men like the football, so the women get the dinner organized around that. Before I’ve been in a muddle since I would skip lunch in order to enjoy the early dinner.”

    That approach led to over-indulgence, though, Day says. “So this year with my plan, I won’t arrive at the table too hungry. Also the other thing I told myself is that if I just enjoy tasting this and that at the dinner table, I can have more later on in the evening.”

    Day adds that she hopes to get a walk in after dinner to help her digestion. “My granddaughter is pretty good about that, so I expect we’ll get out if the weather permits. Even if we don’t, I can still get up and help with the dishes. That’s good exercise even though you don’t get the fresh air.”

    Estimating Portions: Not as Easy as It Seems

    The American Dietetic Association would certainly approve of Day’s Thanksgiving Day eating plan. In a recent publication on estimating portions it highlighted an adjustable wedge that can be used like a ruler to measure portions. Researchers at Tennessee State University developed the device after they found that people had trouble estimating reasonable portions of foods like pumpkin and pecan pie that are commonly cut into wedges.

    Any way you slice it, though, a significant key to controlling reflux at Thanksgiving is to moderate portions. The experts are essentially talking about quality over quantity. They want us to savor each lovely morsel and avoid the mindless, nervous eating that can creep up without a person realizing it.

    Last updated: 21-Nov-06

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