Living with heartburn can be a pain.
Some foods cause problems.
We have compiled a book of recipes that
have worked for others.
Our Cool Food cook book may be ordered from the SALES page.
The following is some practical dietary and lifestyle advice recommended for those suffering with heartburn and its complications, such as Barrett’s oesophagus.
Avoid fatty foods, chocolate, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and acidic soft drinks e.g. orange juice.
- If your symptoms are mainly at night or early hours of the morning, then elevate the head of your bed using either 6-8 inch blocks under the legs at the head of the bed or a wedge under the mattress.
Dr Phil Boger BSc MRCP, Consultant Gastroenterologist
(Although seasonal, these tips may be useful for any festive or party occasion)
I guess most people over-eat at Christmas and imbibe overly rich food and drink that will cause digestive problems. For those of us with a reflux disorder, that can be disastrous but we can still enjoy ourselves.
These are my ten top tips for surviving all that food and drink. Remember, I am not a doctor; any advice I give is from personal experience of what has worked for me. I'm sorry if it appears I'm teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, but it's always as well to be prepared.
However late you eat, wait at least 3 hours, and preferably 4, before retiring to bed.
If you have had reflux problems for a while, you should be familiar with what foods are particularly difficult for you. Keep those to a minimum. Pastry has been a no-no for me and many others but I will succumb to an occasional mince pie. Just be wary of the consequences.
Keep your food portions small. This may be more easily managed if you are the cook or host but if you are a guest of friends or family, they will understand. Remind them discretely before hand but don't keep on about it as no-one likes a bore. You won't offend if you leave some on the plate.
Some foods are easier to swallow and digest than others. Turkey can be dry. The breast in particular may be difficult to swallow. The red meat (legs) is more moist and will be easier to deal with. Likewise trifle is easier than Christmas pud!
Know your tipple. Alcohol can be particularly bad for sufferers but some are less disastrous. Red wine is generally safer than white and real ale safer than lager. But keep the quantity down. Make the drink last, and savour it by sipping at it.
After a meal walking is good: if your body is upright, the exercise will help move the food through the digestive tract, but don't do anything that involves tensing the stomach muscles. If there are children, there may be party games. Sit out anything that may be too strenuous or involve bending. The queen's favourite, charades, should be OK but not Twister.
Do you have your bed head raised? If you are staying with friends, family or in an hotel, you may find the bed a problem. Use extra pillows. (If they're not available, try folding a towel under the pillow to raise it.)
Unless you are already on the maximum dosage of your PPI, you may safely increase the dosage temporarily (for a day or two). The maximum is 80mg of Omeprazole or 60mg of Lansoprazole. If taking large doses, split them between morning and evening (30 mins before eating for the optimum effect). If you have your main Christmas dinner quite late in the day, you may be able to time it to have your second dose before that. Make sure you have enough of your tablets in stock; your surgery may be closed when you need a repeat prescription!
If you don't have any already, get some Domperidone (Motillium). It is available without prescription from the pharmacist. The normal dosage is 5mg taken half an hour before a meal but you may take double that if you feel you may need it. It helps peristalsis: the food's passage through the oesophagus and into the gut and from the stomach. But don't take too much too often: If your body gets used to it, it will lose its effectiveness. A single Colofac tablet (again available from the pharmacist without prescription) taken at the same time before the meal may prevent that bloating feeling afterwards. We're fighting a war and it helps to have all the artillery on our side!
Make sure you have some Gaviscon handy. If you feel you have eaten too much, take some Gaviscon half an hour after the meal: don't wait until the heartburn is causing you misery.
You may even find you survive Christmas better than the others who haven't given as much consideration to their insides as you have.
Have a merry Christmas, Chris Robinson (Chairman, Barrett's Wessex).