Enjoy Heartburn-Free Travel
Pack for Your Trip
Hitting the road? If you have GERD, you'll want to take the following packing precautions:
- Choose comfortable clothing.When it comes time to pack for your trip, make sure you choose loose-fitting outfits. Set one aside for your day of travel, too - it will make sitting for any length a bit more tolerable. Sundresses and tunics (for women) and pants with elastic waists are ideal for these occasions because a too-tight waistband can squeeze your stomach uncomfortably and cause stomach acid to back up.
- Take your heartburn medication.When you're packing your toiletries, take extra heartburn medication - Tums or Pepcid AC, for example - if it's something you use to treat your GERD symptoms. Be sure you keep some in your carry-on bag in case your luggage doesn't make it to your final destination. It's particularly important that you pack enough medication for your entire trip if you're traveling to another country. You'd be surprised how difficult it can be to find health items that seem so commonplace in your home country - and a language barrier can make your heartburn medication even harder to track down.
Hit the Road
Here are some more smart travel ideas for people with GERD:
- Plan ahead.Plan your departure schedule in advance. Allow sufficient time to get on the road or get to the airport and through security without feeling rushed. By eliminating the need to rush - a common source of stress - you will reduce your chances of developing heartburn.
- Take some healthy snacks.You know best what foods can trigger your heartburn, so take along small portions of healthy snacks for your car ride or flight. This will help you avoid the temptations of rest-stop fast foods or in-flight snacks. (Of course, airplane fare isn't known for being very tempting, but by saying, "No thanks, I'll pass," when the cart comes by, you can stop yourself from eating something just because it's offered to you.)
- Give yourself a break.Whether flying or driving, you must wear a seatbelt. Unfortunately, having one pulled across your abdomen can aggravate GERD, in the same way that a tight waistband can. That's why it's important to take plenty of breaks. Remember to stop at rest areas along the way or to stand up and take a stroll down the aisle during your flight.
Eating Out on Vacation
Once you've reached your destination, it's important to manage your eating carefully to avoid aggravating your GERD.
- Stick to your GERD diet.Whether family celebrations, get-togethers at fancy restaurants, business dinners, or cruise-line smorgasbords, meals often play an important role during vacations. Once you've arrived at your destination, you need to take the same precautions you take at home. This means avoiding the "bad" things that can make GERD worse- like fried, greasy, and spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, and acidic fruits, for example. It also means not eating too close to bedtime - two or three hours beforehand is the absolute minimum.
- Get GERD-friendly recommendations.If you're at a restaurant, tell your server about your dietary needs and ask for recommendations from the menu. Remember that small portions are essential to controlling heartburn, and that restaurant entrées can be twice the size of the servings you eat at home. If you don't have the willpower to resist eating everything on your plate, order an appetizer instead of a main course. Or ask your server to put half your entrée in a to-go bag at the beginning of the meal.
Be assertive.Sometimes well-meaning friends and family members can be your downfall, even when they're trying to be helpful. Don't let yourself be persuaded to try "just a taste" or to have a second helping if you know you're going to pay the price later. Remind yourself - and your loved ones - that you won't be able to enjoy their company later on if you're coping with a bout of heartburn. (And if you do slip up and eat too much of the wrong thing, try to head heartburn off at the pass by taking medication that can help treat the symptoms.)
It can be tough to avoid the temptations of overindulging when they seem to be everywhere. As someone with GERD, though, you're well aware of the potential consequences. You know you'll be able to enjoy your vacation better if you take the steps that will save you from heartburn. Make your sleeping accommodations as comfortable as possible, keep your travel time stress-free and relaxing, and watch what, when, and how much you eat.
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