For Thanksgiving, it might be better to consider a turkey marathon instead of a sprint

Ahh, the holidays are upon us. While we look forward to the many joys this time of year can bring, for those of us who suffer with certain digestive concerns, the meals can be both a blessing and a blight.

Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5 FM for Medical Matters this week.

When family gathers for the Thanksgiving meal, it’s important to remember to be careful with your diet, especially if you have gall bladder issues or acid reflux.

Sommer said, “I feel like when the holidays come everyone wants to overdo it. You’re really excited because you get to eat all those favorite foods that you don’t eat all year long.”

Moderation will help make sure you can enjoy the whole day – not just what’s on your dinner plate.

If you suffer from gall bladder issues, foods that are sweet or high in fat can really cause problems. So, cheese, sour cream, ice cream, fatty meats – watch out for those.

Sommer said, “The processed meats, salami, pepperoni and all the cold cut deli meats, they’re usually higher in fat and sodium, so it kind of puts your digestive system into overdrive. So eating an abundance, a lot at one time, it’s better to kind of maybe space it out.”

Chicken, fish and turkey are more lean meats. Beef, pork and lamb are high in saturated fat and can really work your digestive system, particularly if you overindulge.

Another trend for turkey is frying it.

Mike Stapleford of KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM pointed out, “They are tasty, but they’re also really bad for you. It kind of seals in the juices, but it also seals in all that grease and bad stuff.”

It may be tough to moderate sweets at Thanksgiving, but in deference to your gall bladder, it might be a good idea.

Sommer said, “Store bought sweets are higher with trans fat than if you make it at home because there’s a lot of preservatives and things to go in it. They have to have a shelf life.”

The gall bladder aids in digestion of fatty foods, so when it’s not working right, it will be a lot more difficult to absorb those foods – something that we tend to eat a lot of over Thanksgiving.

Acid reflux is also a condition that could be made worse with the foods over the holidays.

Sommer said, “I brought the two together because a lot of them can present initially as the same thing. It could start where you think you have acid reflux and then digging a little further, you might have a gall bladder issue or vice versa.”

With acid reflux, foods that are high in acid and fat can irritate the condition. Remember to continue taking any medication you may be on to prepare for the celebration.

If you would still like to take a taste during the holiday meal, that’s fine, but keep the portions smaller.

Sommer suggested, “Moderation, smaller portions and sometimes more frequent meals throughout the day. Give yourself time to digest.”

Another well-known and beloved side is green bean casserole and while you might be thinking you’re good with that because of the green beans, the cream of mushroom soup and fried onions could aggravate a troubled gall bladder or acid reflux.

Sommer said, “It’s better to have steamed vegetables. Be a little boring.”

Alcohol is another tough one on acid reflux.

Sommer noted, “Pace yourself. Maybe start dinner a little earlier so then you can have appetizers, take a break, come back.”

“A turkey marathon,” Stapleford suggested.

“I like that,” Sommer agreed.

All this could also create problems if you have heart disease as well.

Sommer said, “Don’t overdo it. It’s not just for people with the gall bladder and the acid reflux.”

Also, consider your wardrobe.

Sommer said, “I know everybody wants to get dressed up and look good for the holidays, but nothing after you gorge yourself and your pants feel a little tight. Then it just makes you feel so much worse.”

Stapleford said, “I am a grandfather five times over, believe it or not, but I don’t think I’m ready for the elastic pants thing yet.”

“No, no,” Sommer laughed. “Just looser fitting pants. Just size up for the holidays.”