Thanksgiving is a time when we tend to overindulge, which can sometimes come with unpleasant side effects.
Dr. Kevin Ghassemi, assistant clinical professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, is sharing the best ways to combat any discomfort you may encounter after eating too much turkey and stuffing.
To prevent discomfort ahead of time:
“Because we all know this is something that can happen from past experience, if we can try to make an effort to prevent these symptoms from coming on, that’s obviously best,” Ghassemi tells PEOPLE. “It may not be possible, but try to have the meal more drawn out and have a little bit at a time so you don’t overfill your stomach in one sitting.”
If you have heartburn or reflux:
“Taking an antacid can be helpful,” says Ghassemi. “That can either be taken pre-emptively or after-the-fact when someone starts to not feel well. The ones that I recommend are H-2 blockers: Zantac (ranitidine) or Pepcid (famotidine). People who know they get heartburn can take one just before eating, or if they didn’t plan ahead or start to get symptoms, they can take an antacid and it usually works within about a half hour.”
If you feel bloated:
“It’s been shown in the medical literature that peppermint supplements can be helpful to relax the gut and may aid in digestion and reduction in bloating,” Ghassemi explains. “Ideally, you take it before you eat. The key is to have these medicines or supplements in your system so they’re ready to work when your system gets stressed, but you can take it afterwards. That has a gut relaxing effect and may aid in the digestion that way.”
If you don’t have peppermint supplements on hand (they can be purchased at most drugstores), Ghassemi says peppermint tea can also help alleviate bloating.
“Peppermint tea can help — the supplement tends to be more concentrated — but I’ve had many patients say that peppermint tea helps with digestion, so it’s not a bad idea if they don’t have the pill.”
If you have indigestion:
“When that happens, the best thing to do, especially between dinner and dessert, is to get up and walk around,” he says. “Just walking around, the muscles help to move the digestive tract a little bit more, and that helps to aid in emptying the stomach. And it’s good to take a breather between courses.”