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Chocolate and Nougat and Lollipops, Oh My!

What to Look Out for This Halloween When Living With IBS and GERD

Trick or treat!

It’s that special time of year again where the ghosts and goblins roam the streets, carved pumpkins decorate the lawns and where the hidden talent of a zombie make-up artist is unearthed. This one day makes us all kids again, giving us the opportunity to show our creative side with our costumes and —of course— indulge in the never-ending Halloween candy.

Retailers are reveling in the estimated $3.9 billion spent in costumes and the $2.5 billion in candy during this time. Everyone from retailers to the walking dead in haunted houses should be able to experience the joy and excitement of Halloween.

Unfortunately, for those who suffer from digestive disorders like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Halloween can be a very scary day for their stomach and intestines. With that said, here are some go-tos and do-nots when it comes time to trick or treat. 

Halloween Candies IBS and GERD Patients Need to Avoid

There are some candies that trigger symptoms more than others. Avoiding or limiting intake of these delectable morsels is recommended to avoid a reoccurrence or flare up of symptoms:

  1. Chocolate. Chocolate… your best friend? Yes, sadly. While you are not alone in this feeling of utter despair, the reality of chocolate is that it seems to cause more acid reflux than any other food. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, a high concentration of cocoa and high-fat content, all of which cause serious reflux. In short, Chocolate may be your best friend, but it acts more like Michael Myers on your stomach.
  1. Peppermints. Peppermint is one of the oldest herbs on Earth, used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for its pain-killing properties. While the peppermint oil can be a relief for those with IBD and Crohn’s disease, peppermint relaxes sphincter muscle that closes off the stomach from the esophagus. This relaxation can cause the acid from the stomach to pour back into the esophagus and trigger GERD.
  1. Fruity Candies. Fruits are high in fructose, which is a known trigger for those suffering from IBS. Fruity candies such as Starburst® look so sweet and innocent in their colorful wrappers, but they are a double whammy with high sugar and acidity levels that will trigger symptoms if consumed in moderate to large amounts.

Safe Halloween Candy for IBS and GERD Patients

It is hard to imagine not digging into the candy bowl on Halloween and picking out your favorite piece. The good news is that there are some candies that not only will satisfy any sweet tooth, they will keep symptoms at bay as well.

  1. Candy Corn. Candy corns may be high in calories but they do not pose a high for triggering IBS or reflux symptoms.
  2. Gummy Bears. Gummy bears—despite being fruit flavored—tend to be a safe snack as the fruit taste does not originate from actual citrus properties, so they will not trigger heartburn.
  3. Sour Patch Kids. While these mouth-puckering gummies are a love ‘em or leave ‘em candy for many, they are a safe bet for GERD and IBS as the sour flavor could actually help calm flare-ups.

An Alternative to Halloween Candy

Halloween is a tricky holiday for those who are suffering from IBS, GERD or other digestive disorders. In fact, it is nearly impossible for those who suffer from food allergies. The Teal Pumpkin Project was created to promote safety, inclusion and respect for those that are suffering from food allergies during this spooky time of year. That way, children may still enjoy the excitement of Halloween while avoiding the threat of ingesting something that can cause a severe reaction.

Staying Safe On the Inside

Enjoy the ghosts, goblins, superheroes and candy in moderation along with plenty of water and a well- balanced meal. If you have a known sensitivity that triggers your symptoms, steer clear of these goodies!

And, if you happen to overindulge or find yourself experiencing some new gastrointestinal symptoms, contact Digestive Healthcare Center today.

Make an Appointment for Comprehensive Digestive Care in NJ

At Digestive Healthcare Center, we want each patient at our three offices in New Jersey to feel confident about their digestive health. We encourage you to contact us today to make an appointment with one of our expert gastroenterologists – don’t wait to start putting your digestive health first!

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