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Holiday eating tips for people with food issues

Holiday meals are known for delicious dishes of turkey and dressing, ham, green beans, pumpkin pie and all the fixings, plus deserts. But for people who suffer from acid reflux or are on weight control diets, some of those foods may be off limits.

Spicy, acidic and chocolate foods may trigger acid reflux, heartburn and regurgitation in people who suffer from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), while high carbs, sugar and fat can cause issues for people who are in a bariatric program. And overeating can be a serious problem for both, ranging from discomfort to disrupted sleep to requiring medical attention.

Although GERD and bariatric patients’ food choices and serving sizes may be limited, that doesn’t mean they have to deprive themselves of the joy of cooking and eating with family and friends.

“The last thing anybody wants to have to deal with during the holidays is food-related pain and suffering,” said AnMed Health Dietitian Christen King. “But it doesn’t have to be that way. Talking with your doctor, being educated about what bothers you specifically, and having a food plan is a great start to being prepared for family dinners.”

King provided some tips that can make holiday meals more pleasant for anyone concerned about GERD symptoms or weight gain.


  • Skip cranberry sauce, tomato-based foods, onions, garlic and any others that are acidic or are known to cause problems.
  • Avoid foods cooked in grease.
  • Choose dressings and deserts that are low-fat, non-dairy and chocolate free.
  • Stick to safe foods that have not caused any symptoms with you before.
  • Drink only water, decaffeinated tea or coffee, and non-alcoholic beverages.


  • Choose high-protein foods and eat them first.
  • Skip the high-carb and fried foods.
  • Select low-carb vegetables and casseroles.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol.
  • Include an activity before and after the meal for exercise.


  • Use small plates.
  • Practice portion control and moderation.
  • Eat slowly and chew thoroughly.
  • Stick to one helping.

“Those are general suggestions based on best practices and common issues,” King said. “But each person is unique, so stick to what works for you, listen to your body, and consult with your doctor or E-Visits if you have questions about specific foods or symptoms.”

King offers dietary counseling and management for referred bariatric patients. The program can help clients make healthy food choices for life, including the holidays. Assistance includes identifying behavioral patterns, meal planning, nutritional education and sustainable dietary changes.

“Learning how to overcome lifetime behaviors and adjust to a new way of thinking about food takes time and effort,” she said. “But if holidays cause you to worry about food, then start making a change now by talking with your doctor. We’re here to help.”

AnMed Health has specialists who can help with both conditions. For more information about either, please visit and


Christen King, LD, RD
AnMed Health Dietitian

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