Preventing heartburn before a large meal
December 13, 2013 6:07 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: He's going out for a large meal that has given him heartburn in the past. He wants to have the meal anyway. In case it's important, it consists of a steak, potatoes and some vegetables. Is there anything he can do to stop heartburn before it comes? Non-medication options are appreciated (foods he can eat beforehand, anything behavioral, natural remedies, etc).
posted by jet_pack_in_a_can to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
the following things usually help me, and i have heartburn frequently.

sometimes (not all the time), drinking a glass of full fat milk when you feel the heartburn coming on helps. drink it slow - take a swig and tip your head back so it goes down and sort-of coats your throat.
eat slowly. smaller bites. stretch the food out. stop when you're full.
don't eat a lot for lunch the day you have a big meal.
after dinner, walk around. park further away from the restaurant, and walk back to your car slowly, taking things in. the longer you're upright, the more it helps.
try to sleep on your back. if you have to sleep on your side, sleep on your left side. for some reason, this makes a lot of difference.

however. if i do choose to punish myself and eat a bunch of shit i really shouldn't, i know you said non-medical preferred, but taking a zantac 150 before my food comes helps significantly.
posted by koroshiya at 6:23 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Eat slowly. Don't eat everything on the plate.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:23 PM on December 13, 2013

For me, skipping the booze and skipping the bread would help a ton.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:29 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Start taking prilosec a week before the meal. Then get an appointment with a good GI guy.
posted by colin_l at 7:17 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There's a couple things you can try:

Digestive enzymes - You'll need to get these from a vitamin/supplement store. They help break down food--backing up the digestive enzymes you already produce.

Apple Cider Vinegar (diluted with water and sweetened with a little honey) - Taken prior to eating, it's supposed to help the acidity of the stomach so the body doesn't produce so much acid.

Pineapple - Contains a digestive enzyme called bromelain, which helps digest protein. You can get concentrated tablets along with Papaya at vitamin/supplement stores, but I prefer just eating a few pieces of fresh or canned prior to a protein-heavy meal.

As for combating heatburn as it occurs---anything that contains calcium is a natural buffer to an environment that's too acidic. Drinking a little milk of choice should help.
posted by stubbehtail at 7:36 PM on December 13, 2013

Gaviscon - not really medical as it is derived from seaweed.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:44 PM on December 13, 2013

Take a Zantac or Prilosec. Eat slowly and don't stuff yourself, and avoid anything that's mega-spicy. No booze.
posted by radioamy at 7:57 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Licorice extract supplements.
posted by Blitz at 8:28 PM on December 13, 2013

The vinegar thing is counter intuitive but has seemed to work for me and one other person I know.
posted by latkes at 8:42 PM on December 13, 2013

Apple cider vinegar comes in capsules now.
posted by brujita at 8:46 PM on December 13, 2013

Can he raise the head of his bed? Even just couple of 2x4s under the head makes a difference for me.
posted by Beti at 9:59 PM on December 13, 2013

Many years ago I had a stomach ulcer that was near perforation but all I thought I had was heartburn. I was drinking milk like crazy trying to "coat" my stomach - and taking Mylanta by the bottle when it became clear that milk wasn't going to work. When the ulcer started bleeding and showed up on an upper GI barium study, I got the diagnosis and was put on Tagamet, which, combined with changing my job and reducing some other stressors, healed the ulcer.

However, when I told the doctor that I'd been drinking milk to help soothe the burn, he snorted and said nothing was any more irritating to the stomach lining than milk/lactic acid.

I got rid of the ulcer and never got it back, but I quit drinking milk until they came out with Lactaid; now our local dairy sells lactose-free milk and I'm happily drinking moo again.

I'd recommend an OTC Prilosec or Zantac before the meal - or a swig of Mylanta or Maalox. It isn't like he has to stay on the stuff long-term, but if I had the chance at a super meal, I'd hate to not be able to enjoy it for lack of a stupid little pill.
posted by aryma at 10:16 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Er ... just one other thing:

Your friend doesn't have a history of heart disease, does he? My sweetheart has to be careful about overloading his stomach with a very large meal because his heart is enlarged and when his stomach is reeeeeeeally stretched out it puts pressure on his heart. He's had a severe heart attack and another cardiac arrest and wears a pacemaker/defibrillator, though, so that's a pretty severe case of heart disease - and undoubtedly a very rare reason to avoid a delicious large meal.
posted by aryma at 10:20 PM on December 13, 2013

Taking ranitidine (tagemet, zantac, a thousand other brands) for a day or two before will help. Avoid alcohol, and think twice about the bread. Avoid vinegar and all acidic things (too much acid is the problem; adding more will not help. This includes milk which will only provide short term relief). Drink plenty of water with your meal.

Avoid calcium carbonate based antacids (chalk, sold in Aus as Quick-eze); they lower the ph in your stomach, sure, but your body then ramps up production of acid to compensate. Gaviscon, mylanta etc is a better bet.

Don't overeat.
posted by smoke at 12:05 AM on December 14, 2013

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