Temptation is everywhere. As social occasions mount up, so too do the number of hours available to overindulge. But one thing that can really get in the way of having fun this Christmas - heartburn.
Described as a burning feeling in the chest, it's caused by our stomach acid travelling up the throat. The resulting pain can be so severe that it can be confused for a heart attack. This nasty acid reflux can also leave an unpleasant taste and smell in the mouth as well as make the person cough, hiccup and feel bloated and sick. These symptoms are not a recipe for festive fun.
There are lots of bits of advice that can be followed to alleviate this incredibly irritating issue. However, some solutions such as weight loss are perhaps not the most festive-friendly options. So here are my 10 top tips for tackling the issue of heartburn. Some tips are based on research, while others are obtained from my clinic practice.
1 Do not overfill your belly: Little and often rather than a big feast is the preferred approach.
2 Carbonated beverages may worsen your heartburn: Perhaps choosing still water rather than sparkling water with dinner is a simple adjustment. If a fizzy drink is used as a mixture, ask for lots of ice to slow the speed at which you drink it. Also, ask for one of those little sticks needed to stir the drink to try and reduce the overall fizz.
3 Avoid tight-fitting clothes: For women this means leave the waist belt and the hold-me-in tights at home. The abdomen needs room to extend to accommodate the drink and food that you're consuming.
4 Try not to eat so close to bedtime: Instead try to stay upright for two to three hours after eating. Gravity is the enemy of heartburn, so keep sitting or standing up straight after you eat to prevent stomach acid travelling up towards your throat.
5 Bedtime food: If staying away from food before bedtime wasn't achieved, or if trying to reduce your risk of heartburn at night-time, elevating the head of the bed using a towel or pillow on the underside of the mattress may also help. Heartburn can really interfere with sleep, which will only make recovering from celebrations harder.
6 Cigarette: Smoking cigarettes can exacerbate the heartburn through its action on our stomach acid. Both will give you bad breath, so less is more.
7 If choosing from a dinner menu, opt for the less fatty option: Fat slows the release of food from our stomach. Ideally you want your meal out of your stomach by the time you hit the hay.
8 Watch out for other triggers: Citrus fruit is often blamed for heartburn, as well as raw peppers and tomatoes. However, it's unlikely that you'll consume these at a party. Nevertheless, staying clear from other possible triggers like caffeine and chocolate may also help you. Everyone's different, but perhaps saying no to the tea, coffee and espresso martini, as well as the chocolate option within the dessert selection may help you.
9 The gut needs to keep moving: Slow gut motility can make a person feel backed up. So, keep your bowel movements regular. Keep your water intake to above two litres, eat fruit at snack times and add some nuts or seeds to one of your meals each day.
10 Finally, I've said it before and I'll say it again…. chew, chew, chew! You're nearly guaranteed heartburn if you wolf your meal down. My advice is to take smaller bites of food around the size of a 10 or 20 cent coin. Chew each mouthful 10 to 20 times and leave a 10 to 20 second gap between mouthfuls. If this seems extreme, it means that you really need to give it a go.