HEALTH

Can a Latino Thanksgiving give you indigestion?

As a Latino, I always get very excited around the holidays, especially Thanksgiving. But you know how we Latinos are – we like to eat a lot and don’t always pay attention to the effects food can have on us.

The good thing about Latino food is that it’s full of spices, which not only add flavor, but can also be good for your health. I happen to especially like garlic, which can improve blood circulation and prevents clots, and cayenne pepper, which aids in digestion.

But sometimes, we can get a little caught up in enjoying the holidays, and we stop paying attention to how much we’re consuming. What happens when you eat too much?

Well, for one, it can lead to a terrible case of acid reflux. Filling your stomach to the brim can force acid up into your esophagus. 

Here are a few tips to prevent the burn that comes with enjoying your favorite holiday foods:

1. Try to snack on all the turkey, stuffing, and casseroles every few hours instead of eating everything at once. Spacing out smaller meals can prevent you from overeating, and you get the satisfaction of enjoying Thanksgiving dinner all day long.

2. Make sure to slow down and chew your food properly. Otherwise, you might up in the emergency room for food impaction – the technical term for food getting stuck in your esophagus.

3. Limit your alcohol intake. Too many cocktails can decrease the strength of the lower esophageal sphincter, which keeps acid down in the stomach.

4. Stay awake. I know, I know, you’ve finished your turkey, and now you want your nap. But if you stay upright, you’ve got gravity on your side. It’ll help the acid in your stomach flow down instead of back up.

5. Avoid tight clothing. We’ve all been there – you’ve just eaten a big meal, and suddenly, your pants are a little snugger than before. Not only is this uncomfortable, but the pressure around your stomach from your waistband can force acid back up.

Of course, there are always other alternatives to avoid acid reflux and all the other unwelcome “symptoms” that come with Thanksgiving. For a healthier meal, think vegetarian. Instead of a turkey, consider spicing up a tofurkey or serving stuffed portabella mushrooms as your main dish.

As for the side dishes, it’s easy to make any family recipe vegan by using soy or rice cheese substitutes, unsweetened plain soy milk, non-dairy butter spreads and oils, and "fake" meats.

These ingredients are all found in most grocery stores and often cook and bake similarly to regular cheese, milk and meat.

But I don’t want to be a party pooper. I know that you’ve worked very hard this year, and there's nothing like the holiday season to relieve stress and be around the people you love. Just make sure you keep things in check and watch that second serving.

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Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.