The Super Bowl isn’t just a football game; it’s an American tradition. Whether you celebrate the big game at home, at a friend’s party, or in a New York City sports bar, you can be certain of two things: Only one team will win, and unhealthy food will be served.
Chances are pretty good that you’ll drink and eat too much. Game day festivities may center around the television, but the real action happens around the buffet table. There will be beer. There will be plenty of unhealthy food. It’s OK to indulge yourself while rooting for your team. Your stomach will survive. But maybe you can take a few precautions to avoid the gastritis that’s waiting to strike.
Gastritis is the medical term for an upset stomach, caused by inflammation of your stomach lining. It can cause short-term abdominal pain, cramps, gas and bloating, even mild nausea and fever. While there are many things you can do to reduce the risk of gastritis, what can you do if you know it’s coming, given your every intention of jumping headfirst off the healthy wagon?
To prep your stomach and prepare yourself for the day after the big day, here are five tips from Manhattan gastroenterologist Dr. Shawn Khodadadian:
- Don’t take painkillers. Before, during or after the game, don’t take any aspirin, ibuprofen (like Advil) or naproxen (like Aleve), especially if you use pain relievers frequently. These medications stress your stomach and can add to the misery of your gastritis symptoms.
- Load up on fiber. Eat a healthy, balanced breakfast. Choose whole grain bread or oats, fresh fruit (although not citrus, which can irritate the stomach lining), and a little dairy, like milk or yogurt. During the game, remember that fatty, fried or acidic foods tend to upset the delicate balance of gastric juices in your stomach. If there’s a vegetable tray, have a few pieces.
- Consider medication. Antacids work fast, temporarily neutralizing the acid in your stomach. Take one when you’re experiencing heartburn, but don’t continue this practice for more than a day or two. Alternatively, you can try famotidine (like Pepcid), cimetidine (like Tagamet), ranitidine (like Zantac) or nizatidine (like Axid). Take one tablet about an hour before you start eating and drinking to reduce stomach acid and mitigate your symptoms.
- Temper your alcohol consumption. It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and you’re going to drink. Fine. Just remember that one of the causes of gastritis is drinking too much alcohol. If you plan to imbibe, first, don’t drink on an empty stomach. Second, mix in an occasional tall glass of water. It’ll quench your thirst and aid your digestion. And third, arrange a ride home.
- Avoid spicy foods. The tangy foods on the buffet table can wreak havoc on your stomach lining, especially when combined with lots of bubbly beer and salty snack foods. Ideally, you should limit yourself to the vegetables and hummus dip, but let’s get real. If it’s there, you’re probably going to partake. At very least though, lay off the spicy salsa and hot wings.