The holiday season is upon us, joyous festivities surrounded by family and an abundance of good food. Unfortunately, for those of us that suffer from chronic heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD, it is a time of potential discomfort and pain. Fear not! A heartburn diet for the holiday season need not be overly restrictive. You may be surprised at the foods you can enjoy in this festive season.
I love the holidays. The colors of autumn signal the abundance of the harvested fields. We all partake of the bountiful summer harvest and fill our bellies with its many delicacies. It is as if we must fill our bodies with sustenance in anticipation of the cold blue wintry winds that strip the land of its life.
Fats and Cholesterol
Those of us that suffer from indigestion and acid reflux know all to well the consequences of our feasting. But, there are holiday foods that we can safely ingest that are beneficial to our condition and that reduce our suffering.
We all know that lowering our cholesterol levels is good for reducing the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and diabetes, but it also helps curb gastroesophageal reflux causes as well. Do not confuse cholesterol with fat. It is not a fat. Cholesterol is vital to producing some of the body’s hormones and cells.
Many of the foods we consume during the holidays are high in fats and some are high in cholesterol. Fried foods and foods high in fat content tend to slow digestion and increase the potential for acid reflux and heartburn.
Yet, we must consume some fats, if only to protect us from those long cold winter months ahead. Our bodies require the intake of fats. Fats are essential for some vitamins to dissolve in and for building cells in the body.
Saturated and Unsaturated
Molecularly, fats are a combination of carbon and hydrogen atoms. If all the carbon atoms are linked to hydrogen atoms the fats are said to be “saturated”. If some of the carbon atoms are not linked to hydrogen atoms the fats are known as “unsaturated”. Not surprisingly, most foods contain both kinds of fat, saturated and unsaturated.
So, which fats are good and which are bad?
Generally, foods with unsaturated fats are more helpful for your body. Many processed foods and oils contain “hydrogenated” fats. These are unsaturated fats that have been artificially forced into a saturated state or into a state with more hydrogen atoms than normal (partial hydrogenation).
Partial hydrogenation results in “trans” fats that are not healthy at all. Avoid synthetically created trans fat foods like margarine, potato chips, and other processed foods.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that your total consumption of dietary fats be limited to no more than 20-35% of your total calorie intake based on a recommended intake of 2000 calories per day.
Foods To Eat
Foods with saturated fats also contain cholesterol. It is best to limit your intake of these fats to no more than 10% of your daily calorie intake.
Saturated fats are found in foods like butter, cheese, lard, bacon, ham, and tropical oils.
The remainder of your daily consumption of dietary fats should be from unsaturated fats.
Foods that contain unsaturated fats include almonds, walnuts, and turkey (a Thanksgiving Day staple).
All fruits and vegetables contain some fat, but the fat content is of such negligible amounts that the benefits of the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables far outweigh any concerns about fat content.
Check the labels of store bought food. Hydrogenated oils (bad fat) used to produce these items must be listed in the ingredients.
Any heartburn diet for the holidays should consider the fat content. It is more a matter of common sense. You can enjoy the holidays, be festive and enjoy good food, just be mindful of your indigestion and acid reflux condition. It all comes down to moderation.
One of the many temptations during the holiday season is the abundance of leftovers and that tempting late night snack. Not a good idea for a reflux diet! Eating late night snacks is a major contributor of acid reflux. If you don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night with that burning in the middle of your chest, don’t be tempted by that fridge full of delectable goodies.