With all of the door-to-door treats and costume party snacks, Halloween can pull some nasty tricks on your heartburn. Don’t let this holiday scare you! By planning ahead and knowing which foods are safe, you can make sure the haunted house is the only thing causing knots in your stomach.

Prepare For The Party

Costume parties are fun and a great way to show off your creativity, but unfortunately party food is often hard on heartburn. Fried foods are some of the worst for heartburn because of the excess oil, which slows digestion and puts pressure on the stomach and esophagus. Spicy foods are also heartburn triggers, so foods like chips and salsa or chili can cause acid to flow up out of the stomach. Pizza can also cause trouble because of the acidic tomato sauce. Take care with your drink choices as well; alcohol, especially red wine and beer, are known to cause heartburn. Carbonated beverages can also increase the excess air in your stomach leading to painful gas.

Instead, look for foods at the party that won’t flare up your heartburn like the veggie platter or pretzels. Watermelon is a safe food and a good alternative to more acidic fruits. Pick the almonds from the mixed nuts bowl—they won’t aggravate your heartburn, and they are filling. If there is a white sauce pizza option, that will be easier on your heartburn than the acidic red tomato sauce. Choose decaffeinated tea, water, or a glass of white wine to drink. For sugary treats, stick to licorice, gummy bears, and candy corn. These sweets are a heartburn-free way to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Prepare The Kids

Halloween can be difficult for children suffering from reflux. There are some things you can do to make trick-or-treating more of a treat. Like an adult, children will do better at resisting the temptation to indulge on a full stomach, so eat a heartburn-friendly meal before going out. Give your child a heads-up that there will be foods or candy that aren’t safe for them to eat, so you’ll need to look through the candy together afterward. Some common candies to avoid if your child struggles with heartburn are chocolate, real fruit candy like Starburst, and peppermint. Hard candies and gum can increase the amount air swallowed and may cause excess air in the esophagus as well. It is a good idea to have some alternative treats on-hand to be sure your child gets some goodies that are ok. Avoid going to bed right after eating any candy to limit the chances of painful heartburn.

Trick-or-treating is a fun tradition on Halloween, but dietary struggles like heartburn may take some of the fun out. You may consider adding some other activities that aren’t food-related to your family’s festivities. Things like pumpkin carving, an evening hayride, or Halloween craft are fun ways to celebrate without the worries of heartburn discomfort later. If you experience heartburn 2-3 times each week, it is time to see a gastroenterologist at GI Associates who can determine if you are experiencing GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

What Should I Do?

If you struggle with heartburn and have questions about managing the discomfort, GI Associates can help. We also have a Pediatric Department that specializes in the unique needs of children with heartburn or reflux, and we would love to visit with you about your child’s situation and needs. Make an appointment with us today.

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