Tips to prevent heartburn during Thanksgiving


— Thanksgiving week is also GERD Awareness Week. The heartburn caused by reflux disease (commonly referred to as GERD) can make those who indulge in a big holiday feast less than thankful.

With some help from the national non-profit advocacy organization, ECAN (Esophageal Cancer Action Network), you can avoid the discomfort of heartburn. ECAN Board Chairman Bruce Greenwald, M.D. of the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center) advises the following:

  1. Schedule your Thanksgiving meal in the afternoon rather than in the evening.
  2. Don’t lie down right after eating – take a walk instead.
  3. Avoid overeating; start out with smaller servings and you might not want seconds.
  4. If you are hosting a feast, do your guests a favor by using smaller plates – it will make every portion seem larger and keep overeating to a minimum.
  5. Drink in moderation – Alcohol worsens GERD symptoms.
  6. Eat dessert an hour or two after the meal (but not too close to bedtime).

“Overeating or lying down after a meal make it more likely that acid and stomach contents will reflux into the esophagus, causing heartburn,” Greenwald added. “Following these simple suggestions can help make this a heartburn-free holiday!”

Greenwald and his colleagues at ECAN also advise that if you suffer with heartburn or other symptoms of GERD on a regular basis, making heartburn symptoms go away shouldn’t be the end of your efforts to address the situation. Reflux disease can lead to a pre-cancerous condition known as Barrett’s Esophagus, which, if left untreated, can become esophageal cancer.

That’s why ECAN is distributing posters and public service announcements across the nation warning, “Don’t be a Turkey, Thanksgiving is GERD Awareness Week — Heartburn can cause Cancer.”

The video PSA, posted at features Stephen Bogart, son of film icon Humphrey Bogart, who lost his life to esophageal cancer. The posters list the symptoms and risk factors to look for if you are concerned that you or someone you know could be at risk for complications caused by GERD.

To find out more about the link between heartburn and cancer, visit