During the holidays, we tend to give ourselves a free pass to eat whatever we please. The Calorie Control Council estimates that the average American consumes a total of 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day, and that’s just the beginning as holiday eating continues well until the end of the year. That’s a whole lot of eating, and if you suffer from acid reflux, that could mean a whole lot of heartburn. Rich, indulgent foods and second (or even third) helpings are par for the course around the holidays, but they can spell disaster for heartburn sufferers. If you’re already anticipating an evening of post-meal discomfort, try following these steps for a happy, healthy, heartburn-free holiday season:
- Drink a glass of water before mealtime – Drinking water will take the edge off your appetite and help prevent overeating. Water also dilutes the acid in your stomach to reduce the likelihood of experiencing reflux.
- Fill your plate with healthy foods first – You don’t have to avoid unhealthy foods entirely on during the holidays, but you should keep the portions small. Fill your plate first with salad, vegetables and slices of lean meat. Then allow yourself to have a small helping of those candied yams or green bean casserole.
- Take your time – The holidays aren’t just about the food; it’s about family too! Eat your food slowly and take time to enjoy conversation with those around you. This will give your brain enough time to realize when you’re full and prevent you from going back for second helpings.
- Avoid lying down after eating – Lying down with a full stomach increases your chances of experiencing reflux. Instead of lounging on the couch or in your favorite recliner after dinner, take a walk with the family or help with dishes in the kitchen. This will give your food time to digest and help you burn off a few extra calories.
And try substituting these ingredients to make your holiday dishes healthier while still keeping them flavorful and delicious:
- Use nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream when preparing dips and dressings. You’ll cut the calories by 75 percent and add a good dose of protein.
- Make gravies from broth instead of pan drippings, which are laden with fat.
- Instead of candied yams topped with toasted marshmallows, try mashed sweet potatoes lightly sweetened with natural maple syrup or raw honey.
- Nonfat evaporated milk mixed with corn starch is an excellent thickening agent for soups and gravies, and contains half the calories of heavy cream.
- Explore crustless pie recipes to make your favorite desserts with a lower calorie count. Pie crust alone is about 100 calories per slice.
- Substitute egg whites for whole eggs when preparing holiday breakfast quiche to cut the fat and calories.
- Use applesauce instead of oil for low-fat muffins, breads and cakes that are moist and delicious.
- Try Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese for cracker spreads and appetizers. Both cheeses are similar in taste and texture, but Neufchatel has 40 percent less fat.