Halloween is tricky for anyone watching her waistline, but for chronic heartburn sufferers, all those goodies can make for a miserable night.
"When it's not treated, chronic heartburn can have serious consequences. The good news is that heartburn and GERD are things you can control," says Pat Baird, a registered dietitian, and board member of the National Heartburn Alliance.
Certain foods trigger heartburn in some patients and not others, but Baird lists citrus products, fatty foods, chocolate, and peppermint as common heartburn triggers. Besides avoiding certain foods, scare heartburn away from your haunted house by leaving the spandex costume at home. Tight, constrictive clothing may cause GERD symptoms. And if a chocolate binge happens, Baird recommends avoiding lying down two to three hours after eating.
Here, she gives us tips to sort through the tricks and treats in the candy bowl.
Treat: Candy corn
Twenty-two pieces of this fat-free, colorful candy will cost you 140 calories. Though it’s high in sugar, Baird says it’s unlikely to cause heartburn symptoms.
Though they are a fat-free candy, peppermint has been known to trigger GERD symptoms. Avoid mints and brush your teeth to avoid ghoulish breath. And don’t fret if you love York Peppermint Patties; Baird says they're OK (in moderation, of course).
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If a chocolate craving sneaks up on you, indulge wisely. Baird suggests trying a few Hershey's Kisses or Dove Promises. "Have two or three of these and then walk away," Baird says. "It's a lot less likely you'll be suffering later."
Tricky treat: Gum and hard candy
These candies get a good reputation as GERD-friendly treats. However, Baird warns that they may be an indirect trigger. Chewing gum and sucking on hard candy increases the likelihood you'll swallow air, which increases the likelihood you'll get indigestion or gas.
"Every time you burp, you bring up acid. Indigestion may have a cluster of symptoms, including heartburn," Baird explains. So if you suffer from indigestion, you may want to avoid them.
Trick: King-size candy bars
Baird discourages these larger-than-life chocolate treats: "Five to seven ounces [of chocolate] is really deadly—for waistlines and heartburn." So stick to portion-controlled packages to ensure a heartburn-free night.