The holiday season is in full gear and this means getting to appreciate the traditional meals that we’ve waited a whole year to enjoy once again. With the abundance of such great food, it often makes it tempting to overindulge, but for many of us overeating leads to the unfavorable feeling of heartburn. Generally, most of us resort conveniently to over the counter medications to temporarily stop our indigestion. However, many of us overlook the fact that frequent heartburn over time can impact our overall health. If you are someone who is experiencing reoccurring heartburn more than twice a week, or can’t get relief with medication alone, you may have something slightly more serious referred to as GERD or gastro esophageal reflux disease. Normally when one swallows food, it travels down the food pipe or esophagus and enters into the stomach for digestion. Conversely, when someone is experiencing GERD, pressure causes the food that has reached the stomach to partially backtrack up the esophagus. When this occurs, it usually presents as an unpleasant sensation of a sour or acidic taste in the back of our mouth. GERD can also manifest as pressure or pain in the chest area, but is generally relieved after seeking antacids or other indigestion medications. Other signs and symptoms of GERD include a sore throat, problems swallowing, and a dry cough. Although it isn’t a disease and only a condition, it has the potential to cause erosion to the inner lining of the esophagus and lead to ulcers as well as increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer. If you do experience frequent heartburn or other symptoms of GERD, you could benefit through making a few basic lifestyle changes. First, you should consider the type of food choices you are making and limit caffeinated beverages, alcohol, tomato and garlic based food items. Also be aware of portion sizes and stick to small yet frequent meals and snacks throughout the day. Lastly, abstain from eating 3 hours before falling asleep and try elevating the head of the bed approximately 5 inches with the use of blocks. If you find that lifestyle changes are not improving your heartburn or GERD symptoms, you should make an appointment with your health care provider who will evaluate the best line of treatment for you and your health. Don’t miss out on taking delight in this year’s holiday meals, just keep in mind that moderation is key and that positive eating habits are prominent to a healthy future.