9 Ways to Avoid Heartburn while TravelingLeave the Burn at Home!
-- By Melinda Hershey, Health Educator
Whether you're vacationing or going on a business trip, traveling can be a prime trigger for aggravating your GERD/heartburn symptoms. What with the disruption of your regular routine, bigger meals, unfamiliar foods and sporadic eating schedule, it might seem impossible to avoid heartburn while on the move.
However, with a little bit of forethought, avoiding a flare-up away from home is entirely doable. Here's how to make your next trip heartburn-free!
Avoid Eating Heavy Foods before Traveling
Before you begin your journey on the road or in the air, make sure to keep your meals light to avoid a possible heartburn flare-up while en route to your destination. Bring snacks with you to eat on the plane or on the road, and eat until you're just barely satisfied—not stuffed!
Do Your Research on Local Cuisine
If you're traveling to an exotic location, chances are that you might need to do a little research on the local cuisine before you get there. As a heartburn sufferer, sitting down at a restaurant in a foreign country without being able to recognize anything on the menu is a recipe for disaster. Before you leave for your trip, look up some of the most common local dishes and what ingredients they contain. Write down a list of foods to avoid (e.g. spicy and acidic foods) as well as a list of acceptable foods to look for so you can navigate any menu worry-free.
Avoid Eating Large Portions
While traveling, eating can often become a main event, and you will probably be tempted to enjoy large portions of foods that you don't tend to have very often at home. But in order to ensure that you don't have a heartburn flare-up that could disrupt your trip, it's important to reign in the portion sizes, especially when the food is rich. Make a point to sample a little of everything, but be sure to stop eating before you're full. This way, you'll be able to enjoy the food of the region without feeling sick for the duration of your trip.
Avoid Eating Late
Travel can disrupt your regular sleeping and eating schedule, especially if you're trying to cram as many activities in as possible on vacation or doing a lot of late work on business trips. If you can, try to cut off your food and drink consumption about three hours before you plan to go to bed, as lying down with a full stomach can exacerbate heartburn symptoms.
Wear Loose Clothing
You might be tempted to wear tight-fitting bathing suits and other body-hugging apparel on vacation, but do so with caution. Restrictive clothing can press on your gut and cause a heartburn episode. Instead, skip the belts, tight pants and shirts and restrictive tights and pantyhose, and be sure to pack plenty of loose-fitting clothes for ultimate comfort on your trip.
Pace Your Alcohol Consumption
Vacations and alcohol often go hand-in-hand, but you might want to keep your drinking in check if you suffer from heartburn. Not only does alcohol increase the production of stomach acid, but it also lowers your inhibitions. This might make you more likely to indulge in heartburn-inducing greasy foods. After every alcoholic beverage you consume, drink a glass of water to help pace yourself and dilute the acid in your stomach. Additionally, skip the fruity umbrella cocktails, which tend to contain a lot of acid-rich juices.
Don't Skip Meals
It can be easy to skip meals when you're running around seeing and doing different things while traveling. But don't let time get away from you. If you get overly hungry, it will be much easier to overeat at your next meal—especially if you're in a part of the world where the food is particularly delicious! Bring healthy snacks with you wherever you go to ensure you never get caught empty-handed when hunger strikes.
Make Sure to Pack Your Meds
This might seem pretty obvious, but it's worth the reminder: Make sure you plan ahead and remember to take all of your medications with you on your trip. You don't want to get stuck in an unfamiliar place without access to heartburn relief! Carry your prescription medications and antacids with you wherever you go in case of an attack. And always pack more medication than you think you'll need—it's better to have too much than not enough, especially since travel can bring about unexpected delays and other situations.
Avoid Other Heartburn-Causing Drugs
There are many common medications that can cause or exacerbate heartburn symptoms. While traveling, do your best to avoid taking seasickness drugs, Ibuprofin, aspirin and sleeping pills in order to avoid a heartburn episode. Check with your doctor to determine if there are any other medications you should avoid to keep your heartburn at bay.
Here's to happy, safe and heartburn-free travels!
Medline Plus. ''Heartburn,'' accessed March 21, 2013. www.nlm.nih.gov.