Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) can throw a bit of a curveball into the festive spirit, causing a recurrent backflow of stomach juices when all you want is to revel in joy and celebration. This digestive challenge, sometimes called acid regurgitation or gastroesophageal reflux, demands attention, especially with the lively Chinese New Year just around the corner.
As we approach this vibrant celebration, our commitment is clear: we are here to provide patients with a comprehensive guide. Our goal is to share practical insights that ensure you have a delightful Chinese New Year while effectively managing any GERD symptoms that might try to ruin your celebrations.
Understanding GERD Triggers
If you suffer from symptoms related to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, you may have already identified some of the triggers that may worsen your condition.
Some of the more common food and drink triggers for GERD include citrus, fatty foods, garlic, carbonated beverages, caffeine, and alcohol. The festive table during Chinese New Year may feature tantalising dishes like bak kwa and suckling pig, which, while delicious, can pose challenges for GERD sufferers. Additionally, other GERD triggers include overeating, lying down shortly after eating, and smoking.
While this may limit your options when dining during Chinese New Year, it does not mean you cannot still savour a good meal with friends and family.
Navigating Chinese New Year Meals With GERD
Many of the common trigger foods of GERD are things that come in abundance during the festive period of Chinese New Year. However, we’ve put together a list of helpful tips and strategies to get you through the celebrations while minimising the chances of experiencing a Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease episode.
1. Plan Ahead By Keeping GERD-Friendly Dishes In Mind
Our local Chinese delicacies offer a wide range of dishes in a variety of cooking styles. It is important to opt for dishes that have been prepared using lighter cooking methods. For example, you should choose steamed or grilled options over deep-fried or heavily spiced dishes.
Look out for lean proteins such as fish, chicken or tofu during your celebrations. By prioritising freshness in your festive meals, you greatly reduce the risk of triggering acid reflux.
2. Avoid And Limit Trigger Foods
Identifying and limiting your known trigger foods is crucial on a day-to-day basis, and especially so during the festive period, as you may find yourself faced with more temptation than normal.
Spicy dishes, citrus or highly acidic fruits, and chocolate are common triggers for many who suffer from GERD.
If you know beforehand that a particular house may make it hard to steer clear of your trigger foods, you may want to consider bringing GERD-friendly alternatives. Otherwise, ensure that you limit your intake of these items to keep your symptoms to a minimum.
3. Practise Mindful Eating Techniques
Overeating can put added stress on the body and significantly worsen GERD. As such, actively practising mindful eating is effective in GERD management. We understand that the holidays are a time for people to indulge.
Therefore, we recommend sticking to smaller portions more frequently, allowing you to still enjoy the wide range of Chinese New Year goodies available.
Additionally, taking the time to chew your food thoroughly can aid digestion, reducing the possibility of stomach discomfort. Taking your time to enjoy your meal also gives you the chance to savour your meal and the experience of dining with loved ones.
4. Select Your Beverage Choices Wisely
Carbonated beverages and alcohol are common triggers for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Unfortunately, they are also common culprits during the festive period of Chinese New Year.
One should opt for herbal teas, non-citrus juices, and water over carbonated or alcoholic beverages. Limiting alcohol consumption is especially important as it can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which largely contributes to acid reflux.
5. Ensure That You Are Staying Hydrated
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water can neutralise the stomach acids. This is why proper hydration is essential in managing your GERD. Consider bringing a water bottle with you for your Chinese New Year visits to remind yourself to drink ample water.
6. Plan Your Meal Times Strategically
We understand that Chinese New Year often means visiting and indulging at various houses. Planning your meal times during this period can significantly impact your GERD symptoms.
One easy tip is to avoid eating close to bedtime – this can reduce the risk of nighttime reflux, as lying down too soon after eating can trigger GERD.
7. Be Aware Of Your Portions Sizes
Portion control is a key aspect of managing symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. This is especially so during the festive period since you will likely visit multiple houses where you may be tempted to snack on some of your favourite treats.
Keeping conscious of your portion sizes can prevent overeating. Larger meals can put additional pressure on one’s stomach, triggering reflux. If you find it difficult to manage your portion sizes, use smaller plates to help with moderation while still allowing yourself to enjoy an array of dishes without overindulging.
Ginger, nuts, and bananas are some digestive-friendly snacks that can prevent you from overeating throughout the day.
Consult with Healthcare Professionals
If you have been diagnosed with GERD and have been prescribed medications, ensure that you have them with you during the celebrations. It is essential to stay consistent with your medication, especially during festive periods when your dietary choices are more likely to include trigger foods.
You should also speak to your healthcare provider about any symptoms you notice and any concerns you may have. Keeping yourself informed can prepare you for what to expect during the festive season, making the experience a less stressful one for you and your body.
GERD does not mean that you have to miss out on events or festivities. However, it does mean that you may have to be more aware and mindful of the choices you make during these times.
Listening to your body and prioritising your well-being will allow you to still enjoy the celebrations without discomfort.
If you suspect you may be suffering from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, contact G & L Surgical Clinic for a consultation. Our staff will be happy to assist you in understanding and managing your condition.