Maybe you hadn’t planned on getting your total caloric intake for the day within the space of an hour, but now here you are: empty plate, super-full belly—and that burning has just begun.
The holidays are notorious for scuttling moderation, thanks to jumbo family dinners, ample party buffets, and cheese-laden potlucks. But all of that can be a recipe for heartburn, too, especially if you tend to suffer from it anyway.
The best strategy is prevention, of course. But what about when you’re long past that point, and the symptoms—feeling like food is surging back up, aggressive belching, an on-fire oesophagus—are coming on fast? Here are a few tricks to try.
How to treat heartburn: Take a walk
Hands down, this is absolutely the best strategy for knocking out heartburn when it’s in its early stages, according to Abraham Khan, M.D., gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Health.
The sooner you can take a slow walk after eating, the better, he says. You only need about 10 to 15 minutes of ambling, so it could just be around the block. The movement helps digestion, which means the stomach will empty faster than if you hit the couch after a meal. Sitting can make heartburn worse, because it creates pressure on the stomach, and that can cause acid to rise upward.
How to treat heartburn: Loosen your belt
Speaking of pressure, restrictive clothing does the same thing. Even a little bit—like a tight belt—can be enough to change abdominal pressure, Dr Khan says.
“It’s amazing how little it takes in terms of creating pressure shifts,” he notes. Use that excuse when you show up at a family dinner in sweatpants—or, at least, something a little more subtle but not as binding as those dress pants.
How to treat heartburn: Resist the urge to nap
Another factor for pressure change is body position. Sitting isn’t great, but lying down is even worse, despite what your uncle swears by. So that means even though you’re clamouring for a nap after your big meal, giving in to the urge might be making you belch fire.
When you’re in the prone position, the stomach can expand, says Dr Khan. That may force the contents too close to the oesophagus, creating upward movement of stomach acid. He recommends waiting at least three hours after a big meal before napping or sleeping, since that gives the stomach more time to empty.
“If you go to bed slightly hungry, that’s great,” he notes. “You don’t want to be starving, but if you’re just a little hungry, that means your stomach has emptied to a significant degree, and that acid production has calmed down.”
How to treat heartburn: Skip the gym
There is a condition called “exercise-induced reflux,” says Dr Khan, and it’s when a workout brings on heartburn symptoms.
That can happen because enthusiastic exercise of any kind—cardio, HIIT, strength training—can cause a very full stomach to push food and acid back up, according to Dr Khan. So, re-schedule your intense workout for the next day, and make your physical activity that nice, leisurely walk instead.
How to treat heartburn: Don’t eat more
It almost goes without saying, and yet it needs to be said: You’ve had enough. Dr Khan says that some people try to knock down the acid by piling more food on top of it—especially the bland stuff they think can actually quell the fire, like bread, oatmeal, and rice—but that backfires very quickly.
Your stomach is already working overtime enough that acid is rising, so trying to load it up even more usually makes things worse.
There are some anecdotal cures like drinking milk, chewing gum, or downing water, but there’s little evidence that they work, Dr Khan says. Because milk may neutralize the acid, you may have relief temporarily, but there’s a chance the heartburn could come roaring back after that.
Instead, loosen those clothes, lay off the buffet for a while, and get outside for a walk. And if you suffer from chronic heartburn issues, Dr Khan suggests talking to a doctor for some prevention strategies that can help.
Source: Men’s Health