The holiday party season is in full swing, and that means it’s prime overindulgence time. From special holiday sweets to extra-rich meals with extra-large portions, food is often a focal point.
Gloria Grice, Pharm.D., BCPS, associate professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, says you can prepare for the bloating and heartburn that can follow a rich, heavy meal by stocking your medicine cabinet before the party starts.
“Products with sodium bicarbonate or calcium carbonate [think Tums, Maalox, Pepto-Bismol, etc.] work well for occasional heartburn,” Grice says. “They neutralize stomach acid, which is usually the cause of the burning sensation. And they can be taken as soon as symptoms begin, or up to an hour after a meal that you think may cause heartburn.”
Another option Grice recommends is magnesium hydroxide [milk of magnesia]. “It acts quickly and neutralizes acid,” she says. “However, patients with kidney disease should avoid this product. Also, it can have a laxative effect for any patient who takes multiple doses in a day.”
We all hope we’ll have the willpower to politely refuse that extra cookie, slice of pie, or even an entire plate of “seconds,” but at least with these items on hand you won’t have to suffer helplessly through the aftermath.
Grice adds these tips to her prescription for comfortable holiday party enjoyment:
- Stay away from caffeine. Grabbing that triple-shot latte before the party or family gathering will increase your appetite and overstimulate the normal digestive processes. That means you’ll probably eat more and you’ll absorb fewer nutrients from what you eat.
- Chew slowly. It’s a great way to prevent bloating.
- Go easy on the alcohol. Drinking too much can irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines. Alcohol can also kill good intestinal bacteria, which can lead to indigestion or diarrhea.
- Take a smaller slice of pie. When sugar, fruit and starch mix in the stomach, they ferment and cause bloating.