Heartburn and the Holidays: Tips to avoid that familiar, dreaded holiday burn

This holiday season, whether you’re ordering in or whipping up a meal in your home, plan ahead so that you don’t have to feel the burn.

Acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion – it goes by different names, but we’ve all been familiar at one point or another with that indistinguishable burning sensation. If you’ve ever had acid reflux, there’s no difficulty in recognizing that burning pain in the chest. Other common symptoms often include belching, irritation in the throat and difficulty swallowing – all of which become worse when you lay down.

Overtime, and especially as we get older, many of us seem to just accept that certain feelings of physical discomfort are well…normal. At events and over a glass of wine, many of my girlfriends have told me about aches, pains and digestive issues that they now have and have been trying, unsuccessfully, to get rid of using Tums, antacids, pain relievers and more.

The thing is…many of our discomforts, including acid reflux are avoidable. That’s right! It’s not about treating these aliments after we notice them, it’s about preventing them in the first place!

Sooooo how do you do that? Sounds easy right? It can be!

Keeping acid reflux at bay is all about understanding what your body needs to help it do its natural job of digestion and then making balanced decisions to help your body do just that. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to totally give up a glass of wine, or a special dessert – it’s all about balance, so you can still enjoy your traditional favourite treats – just with a few important reminders and alternative choices to keep you from feeling the burn.

This holiday season, whether you’re ordering in, whipping up a meal in your own kitchen or accepting delicious doorstep drop offs from family and friends, keep these holiday tips in mind to keep acid reflux at bay.

Plus, let’s face it…the tips below aren’t just for the holidays, they’re healthy approaches to eating and digestion that we should embrace year-round – because unfortunately, even just a few minutes chewing a few bites, can lead to hours of discomfort later. 

Know your trigger foods

There are known foods that trigger acid reflux and make symptoms worse, but they are different for everyone. Know which ones are your biggest food flare-ups. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Spicy foods
  • Citrus
  • Tomato sauces
  • Vinegar
  • Fatty foods
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Onions
  • Alcohol

Embrace foods that are raw or minimally prepared

Raw foods have a whole host of vitamins, minerals and benefits that cooked foods don’t. This is one of the many reasons I’ve become a raw food expert and advocate. I could write a whole book about the benefits of raw food – in fact, I’ve already written a few, but for the sake of this blog post, here are three quick tips to use over the holidays:

  • Incorporate a simple raw veggie tray as an appetizer
  • Roast or boil vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli and squash
  • Instead of off the shelf, prepared rich sauces, make a simple sauté with olive oil and fresh herbs

To learn more about raw food and to try some tasty recipes, check out my book A Healthy You.

Pace your meals

How much and how fast you eat makes a significant difference to your body and its ability to properly digest food. When you go to sit down at the table to begin your meal, remember to:

  • Take small bites, take your time, and turn down a second helping
  • Slow down and savour your meal
  • Give your body a break before enjoying dessert

Embrace equally delicious substitutes

So I’m not asking you to skip dessert entirely – after the year we’ve all had, no one would expect anyone to do that. But I would challenge you to think about substitutes that are as delicious as our favourite desserts.

  • Try a light angel food cake instead of a heavy chocolate cake
  • Whip up a simple yogurt parfait with fresh fruit and a few favourite add-ons like coconut or honey
  • Serve a simple cheese and fruit platter – consider low fat cheese options like goat cheese

Straighten up and go for a gentle walk

It takes hours to digest your food and the worst thing you can do immediately after eating is to sit down or engage in vigorous exercise. I know we all want to relax after enjoying a delicious meal, but save that until after your stomach has had a chance to do its job.

  • Stand up and get a head start on cleaning the dishes
  • Go for a slow, gentle walk, which will aid in digestion
  • Take your family out to see the lights and decorations in your neighbourhood
  • Consider playing a game like Headbanz or Heads Up but instead of playing it sitting down, get everyone standing up

Remember, a healthy lifestyle is all about balance. It’s okay to treat yourself with a favourite holiday chocolate or drink – but eating the whole box, or drinking the whole bottle will have consequences.

This holiday season I’d love to be flooded with your recipe ideas for “treats” with a healthy twist. Send me your favourite recipes, tricks and pictures of food that makes you feel good in your body and soul!

Warm Regards,




CAROL ALT is a pioneer and chameleon in the entertainment industry; constantly on the lookout for new challenges. Since her days as the world’s most renowned Supermodel, Carol has gone on to be multi-award winning actor, successful entrepreneur, best-selling author on Raw Food and Nutrition, and the host of A Healthy You & Carol Alt on FOX News Channel.