Halloween is a time for dressing up, trick-or-treating, and scares! While these festivities are full of fun and games, if you have heartburn, “fright night” carries a whole other meaning. While sugar on its own doesn’t affect heartburn, some sugary treats contain other things that are particularly menacing for heartburn sufferers. Here’s a helpful guide to make your night the right kind of scary.
The biggest food monsters when it comes to heartburn are fatty, citrusy, and acidic foods. We don’t necessarily think of candy falling into these categories, but there are some types that do. Chocolate is a major culprit for heartburn, since it causes the esophageal sphincter to relax and allow stomach acids back into the esophagus. Many chocolate candies also contain nuts which are high in fat content. If you find yourself craving chocolate, you are better off avoiding the candy bars and eating two to three smaller, plain chocolates like a Hershey’s kiss or Dove chocolate. The sweeter chocolate becomes, the more reflux it causes, so if there is dark chocolate available, opt for a few small pieces of that. Avoid real fruit candies like Starburst because the citrus will trigger acid reflux and heartburn. Mints like peppermint and spearmint are commonly a go-to for upset stomach or indigestion, but mints can make heartburn symptoms worse. Aside from the mint, hard candies and gum can also cause problems because they cause you to swallow excess air, which increases the chance of acid being released from the stomach through gas. Carbonated beverages act similarly by increasing air bubbles in the stomach and digestive tract and exacerbating heartburn.
Although heartburn might limit your indulgence, there are still plenty of less-scary treats you can enjoy. You will be happy to learn that the classic Halloween sweet, candy corn, is safe to eat for heartburn. However, it is very high in sugar, so be careful if you’re watching your calorie intake. You may think of gummy bears or Sour Patch Kids as being a citrusy food, but the fruit taste comes from flavoring rather than actual citrus in the product, so they should not aggravate heartburn. In fact, sour flavors increase saliva production and have been shown to calm symptoms of heartburn when they start to flare up, making sour gummies a good alternative to high-citrus candies like Starburst. Twizzlers are also safe for heartburn sufferers, and as a bonus, they are low in calories.While sugar may not be a problem on its own, it can cause you to gain weight, which can increase the symptoms of heartburn.
If you experience heartburn 2-3 times each week, it’s time for a visit with your gastroenterologist. Frequent heartburn is often diagnosed as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). If you are concerned about your heartburn or are wondering about other triggers, don’t wait until Halloween; make an appointment with Concorde Gastro today.