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Feast Without Regret this Thanksgiving

Health Articles |
Categories: Gastroenterology
Food on Table

Family, friends and bountiful dishes are enough to make anyone give thanks. But at the end of the holiday, thankfulness may turn into eater’s remorse. Don’t despair! With a slice of know-how and a dab of strategy, you can have your pie and eat it, too.

The Regret Part

Faced with a cornucopia of Thanksgiving food options, it’s easy to overeat and then pay the price. “When you eat a large meal in a short period of time, before your gut sensors and receptors can crosstalk with your brain to say, ‘Hey, I’m full,’ that can lead to overeating,” says Doylestown Health gastroenterologist Hannah Do, MD.

Dr. Do describes overeating as, “Eating to the point where it causes general discomfort, unnecessary regurgitation or reflux of acidic contents, an abnormal amount of distention, bloating, discomfort and possibly stomach pain.”

When Loosening Your Belt Isn’t Enough

To counteract the some of the ill effects of overeating, there are three types of products out on the market, and they are all over-the-counter:

  • Antacids : These remedies, like Tums and Maalox, are acid neutralizers that provide short-term relief from heartburn.
  • Histamine receptor antagonists: Histamine antagonists (H2 blockers) like Pepcid are more effective than antacids in reducing the production of stomach acid and can work for a longer period of time.
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): PPIs, like Prilosec or Prevacid, act on receptors that create acid and help reduce hyperacidity in the stomach. They may take longer to work, but they are stronger and are used to treat more frequent and severe symptoms.

Symptoms To Pay Attention to

In all likelihood, after using the over-the-counter remedies to counteract an indulgent Thanksgiving, you’ll start feeling better. However, digestive symptoms that linger post-holiday should not be ignored: nausea, vomiting, trouble swallowing or a sense of a lump in the throat are signs that you should contact a physician.

Feasting Without Fretting

You don’t have to fret and regret! Make this Thanksgiving a time of enjoyment, culinary delight, but also wellness. Doylestown Health Gastroenterology shares these helpful ways to make the most of Turkey Day:

Tip #1: Nip stress in the bud . Cooking, cleaning and family tension can elevate stress levels. According to Dr. Do, stress can have a direct effect on the digestive system, causing stomach pain, heartburn and indigestion. Stress can also make one more inclined to overeat and drink too much. Tips from GI doctors aren’t going to help you cook a turkey to perfection or work out issues with your mother-in-law. But understanding how stress can affect the body is half the battle. Be mindful of how you are feeling. Take breaths, meditate, stretch and find ways to be thankful.

Tip #2: Spread your eating out over the day . “Make it more of a marathon than a sprint,” advises Dr. Do. Spreading out the eating can make it easier to savor all of the Thanksgiving goodies. Start with a healthy breakfast. If appetizers are being served, make sure there is some time in between them and the main event. And dessert does not have to immediately follow the meal. “Get a walk in in between,” Dr. Do suggests. “Walking is a fantastic way to increase gut motility.”

Tip #3: Hydrate . “Hydration, especially water, is key,” she stresses. In general, eight 8-ounce glasses of water are recommended per day — more if you are doing strenuous activity, like vacuuming your house or bench pressing a turkey.

“Drinking with meals acts as a lubricant, aiding in swallowing food and improving digestion and gut motility. Drinking water can also make you feel full a little faster,” Dr. Do adds. By contrast, she recommends alcohol only in moderation. “Alcohol may increase acid reflux, because it can weaken and relax the lower esophageal sphincter, making it more likely for food to reflux up.”

Tip #4: Try smaller portions . If you want to sample a multitude of dishes — or feel obligated to do so — try smaller portions first. And don’t feel like you need to finish everything because it’s on your plate.

Tip #5: Eat more slowly! “As a gastroenterologist, I feel that in general, people are eating their food faster and faster now,” Dr. Do says. “They chew less and eat more, often times multitasking with phone, the TV, or computer, which can blunt the effects of satiety.” She recommends seeing how you feel before you put more on your plate. Listen to the signals from your brain and your body.

Doylestown Health wishes you a delicious, healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

About Gastroenterology

Our caring, compassionate gastroenterologists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders and diseases of the digestive system. Using advanced screening tools, state-of-the-art treatments and innovative technology, our gastroenterology team delivers comprehensive care for conditions of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts and liver. The Open Access Colonoscopy Program allows healthy patients the convenience of scheduling a screening colonoscopy without an initial office visit.

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