Unfortunately, I know more than I would like to know about acid reflux. After I was diagnosed with an acute case of LPR (laryngopharyngeal reflux) over the summer, I had to completely re-learn how to eat, when to eat, what foods to avoid, and find out which medications worked best for me. Based on my experience and research, I prepared a short Thanksgiving Survival Guide for those with acid reflux.

See your doctor and get medications

This is obvious. But sadly, many people don’t do this. If you have a severe case of acid reflux, over-the-counter medications may not be enough. In my case, I was told that even a double dose of over-the-counter Prilosec would be like “a drop in a swimming pool.” The only thing that worked for me was a heavy duty prescription extended release capsule. If you are reading this article, you already know that you have acid reflux. But many people don’t. Not all acid reflux patients experience obvious heartburn. LPR or “silent reflux” affects the esophagus. Sufferers experience coughing, swallowing problems, and, in some cases, airway restriction. Finding the right medicine can go a long way and may even allow you to eat as you normally do, without worrying about food in the first place.

You may find that taking a dual-action chewable PPI like Pepsid AC before and after your Thanksgiving meal helps with acid reflux, regardless of whether you take prescription medications or not.

Eat early

Fortunately, Thanksgiving is a meal that is often served as a late lunch. If you have acid reflux, it is best not to eat 3 hours before bed. So no pumpkin pie for you. Make sure you eat plenty of food before bed so you don’t be tempted to raid the refrigerator later.

Don’t gorge yourself

Take your acid reflux as a lesson in better eating habits. Overeating is a big no-no in general, but it’s even worse for acid reflux sufferers. It is better to eat many small portions rather than gorging yourself in one sitting. Don’t feel bad about eating something before the “big meal” so you don’t eat too quickly and overdo it at the table.

Food and drinks to avoid

It’s a shame, but most of the good things we eat and drink are what cause acid reflux. During my acute phase of LPR, I had to avoid almost anything with spices or flavor. I was also instructed to avoid major food groups, including dairy, alcohol (bummer), and citrus. Hopefully, you don’t have it too bad. Here’s a basic food chart to help you make the right choices for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Cheat Sheet for Acid Reflux Sufferers

Avoid like the plague

  • Alcohol (red wine is the worst)
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Cranberry sauce
  • sauce
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint
  • Fried and fatty foods
  • Tomato Products
  • Onions / Garlic
  • Mustard
  • Heavy spices
  • Vinegar
  • Carbonated drinks, such as soda.
  • Citrus juices and fruits

Eat in moderation

  • Dairy products
  • ~ Milk
  • ~ Cheeses
  • ~ Cream sauces
  • ~ butter
  • Filling
  • Cornbread
  • Mashed potatoes (NO sauce)
  • Pumpkin cake
  • Sugary dessert

Go crazy!

  • Turkey and lean meats
  • tofu
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables (not citrus)
  • Fruits (not citrus)
  • Walnuts
  • Egg whites

Get moving

One of the best things you can do for your sensitive acid reflux condition is to jump-start your digestive juices and speed up your metabolism before and after your meal. But you don’t have to run a marathon. A 30 minute walk will suffice. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, why not allow your guests to be competitive with an active video game match or potato sack race? On second thought, maybe a walk around the block will be enough.


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