Avoiding Super Bowl Sunday Indigestion

Feb 1, 2013


Super Bowl Sunday seems like the perfect opportunity to overindulge in our favorite junk foods. But for those who suffer from digestive issues, including heartburn, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome, making food choices at half time can be a challenging ordeal.

Dr. Christine Frissora, a gastroenterologist at the Center for Advanced Digestive Care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell, explains, "Fats, spices and carbonated beverages are likely to wreak havoc on the gastrointestinal tract, if not at the time of ingestion, then in the hours that follow. Pass on the junk food at the Super Bowl party and your body will thank you later."

Dr. Christina Tennyson, a gastroenterologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia, adds that "Certain things can irritate people more. Those who are prone to indigestion, gas and bloating are urged to avoid processed or packaged foods."

Drs. Frissora and Tennyson urge football fans to control their approach to food. Consider using a smaller plate when selecting your snacks. This will help you to eat less. In addition, pace yourself, especially when consuming alcohol.

The following "do and don't" food suggestions can help to guide you in selecting Super Bowl snacks that may be kinder to your digestive system.

  • Avoid spicy foods. Spicy foods can help trigger conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion and acid reflux. It is best to avoid spicy foods — replace wings, nachos and chili with items like pitas, hummus, and yogurt. For a chili alternative, try making chili with chicken, and add zucchini and carrots. Reduce the amount of spices and beans.
  • Reduce dairy intake. Lactose can be a problem for many. Instead of eating foods like mac and cheese, ice cream, and nachos, consider an alternative for that dairy fix. Try cheeses that are low in lactose, including brie, parmesan and aged cheddar.
  • Beans are challenging to digest. Humans don't have the enzymes to digest beans efficiently. Anyone who overindulges can endure gas and indigestion. Limit your intake of beans, and watch your portion size.
  • Avoid "high fiber" snacks. While foods labeled "high fiber" may appear to be healthy, they can actually be challenging to digest and leave you feeling bloated.
  • Reduce intake of fat. Fat takes longer to digest. Ingesting a lot of fatty foods at one time can lead to indigestion. Prevent this by substituting fried wings with grilled chicken skewers. Or, consider making potato skins with low fat cheese and turkey bacon bits. Make an effort to bake, not fry, food.
  • Healthy substitution ideas. Overall, make sure you provide your guests with nutritional options. Some examples include: yogurt dip, nuts, fruits (especially berries), multigrain or whole-grain crackers and chips, non-spicy guacamole, baked (not fried) chicken or fish, salads, fresh vegetables, and water with lemon or citrus garnishes.

For more information, patients may call 866-NYP-NEWS.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, based in New York City, is the nation's largest not-for-profit, non-sectarian hospital, with 2,409 beds. The Hospital has nearly 2 million inpatient and outpatient visits in a year, including 12,797 deliveries and 195,294 visits to its emergency departments. NewYork-Presbyterian's 6,144 affiliated physicians and 19,376 staff provide state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. One of the most comprehensive health care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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