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By Susan Male-Smith
Whether flying business class or escaping to a beach resort, avoiding heartburn while traveling is a challenge for anyone prone to acid reflux. "Traveling triggers heartburn because it inevitably adds stress and disrupts your routine," says registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Face it, you're sleeping in a different bed and eating new foods, all at odd hours. Even relaxation can trigger trouble if you're lying flat on the beach after eating a burger or sipping a margarita. The best way to avoid heartburn while traveling? Consider the following:
1. Avoid overstuffing yourself. A bloated belly is a surefire invitation for heartburn whether you're at home or traveling.
2. Try new foods but choose wisely. Opt for grilled over fried, sauces on the side. Go spicy only if you can handle it, and share rich desserts.
3. Stick to regular mealtimes and eat smaller portions. This way, even unfamiliar foods will be less likely to bring on heartburn.
4. Pack a sensible sandwich and snacks for the plane or the car so you won't have to resort to airport fare or roadside fast food. Faced with only those options? Look for grilled chicken or veggie wraps. Or order a kids' meal to keep portions small.
5. Steer clear of late-night noshing so you won't be lying down within two to three hours of eating.
6. Take a walk. Exercise helps prevent heartburn, and an after-dinner stroll ensures you won't recline on a full stomach.
7. Chew gum between meals to keep saliva flowing, which helps neutralize stomach acid and prevent heartburn.
8. Drink more water and fewer carbonated, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which can aggravate heartburn.
9. Wear comfy, loose travel clothing. Tight waistbands and belts may encourage acid reflux.
10. Ask the hotel for extra pillows or a sleeping wedge. Keeping your head and shoulders propped up allows gravity to help prevent acid reflux and heartburn.
11. Remember to pack your medications -- both prescription and over-the-counter -- to avoid having to search for drugstores in unfamiliar places. Pack them in your carry-on, not checked baggage.
12. Don't over-schedule your trip. Whether it's for business or pleasure, an overburdened itinerary creates stress that will make it harder to avoid heartburn while traveling. Take time to enjoy your trip.
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Susan Male-Smithis a registered dietitian and a freelance nutrition and health writer. She has written for Family Circle, Redbook, Child and American Health, and she is a former editor of the Environmental Nutrition newsletterand co-author of Foods for Better Health.