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Tips for Avoiding the Woes of Holiday Eating

November 17, 2017

It’s no secret the tendency to indulge in food and drink is rampant from late November until January. Bayhealth Gastroenterologist Carol Morris, DO, has some advice related to this ritual to help you avoid the woes of holiday eating. Her holiday eating tips are especially helpful for gastrointestinal (GI) upset, including that which is commonly associated with conditions such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

“The biggest message about food and drink is everything in moderation; anything in excess is bad,” says Dr. Morris. “Thanksgiving food is especially great as leftovers, so spread it out over the whole weekend versus eating it all in one day.”

To stick with moderation Dr. Morris recommends starting with a small, salad size plate, filling it up and eating that first. Wait at least 30 minutes before having seconds to give your brain enough time to signal if your body is full or still hungry.

“If you’re worried about missing out on seconds or your favorites, fill another small plate,” she says. “That way you’ll have it if you’re still hungry 30 minutes later. This will help address the anxiety associated with missing out, and that’s half the battle.”

Dr. Morris has similar advice for all the food in the workplace at this time of year. “You can enjoy these foods, but have a bite or two of a cookie and a couple of pieces of candy versus several cookies and 10 pieces of candy.”

Other Holiday Eating Tips

1. Have medications on hand. “The other half of the battle is making sure you have medications available,” says Dr. Morris. “You should stock up on them in advance of the holidays.”

These include medications for preventing heartburn and acid reflux, which should be taken 30-60 minutes before eating, and ones that address symptoms afterward such as antacids, anti-diarrheals and laxatives.

2. Prevention is best. Although it’s a good idea to have medications on hand, Dr. Morris says it’s always best to prevent GI upset. “If you have IBS, for example, you should make note of your trigger foods and either avoid them or be prepared to deal with the consequences.”

When it comes to avoiding the woes of holiday eating, Dr. Morris says the key is to have a plan. For instance, if you already know you have issues with indigestion and/or diarrhea or constipation, consider taking medications, especially ones you know have worked for you in the past. That way you won’t feel anxious about the potential consequences, such as having to use the bathroom in someone else’s house.

“It’s also very important you don’t use Thanksgiving as an excuse to continue several weeks’ worth of gluttony,” said Dr. Morris. “Enjoy the traditional holiday foods and beverages, but don’t forget about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.”

Bayhealth Gastroenterology has offices in Milford and Dover. Visit Bayhealth.org/Medical-Group for more information about Bayhealth Gastroenterology and all of our other specialties.