The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is known for its delicious foods but watch out for too much of a good thing. An expert at Baylor College of Medicine says eating too much of certain rodeo or fair foods could lead to acid reflux or make it worse.

“The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo carries reasonably healthy food choices such as barbecue, chicken, beans and turkey legs,” said Dr. Hashem B. El-Serag, section chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Baylor “However, it also offers exotic unhealthy foods that are meant to be for entertainment value.”

Foods such as fried ice cream and fried chocolate bars are some of the rodeo’s most popular foods but also the unhealthiest because they are extremely high in calories and in fats.

The consequences of people eating these foods on a regular basis are insulin resistance, high cholesterol, fatty liver issues and obesity, said El-Serag. In the short term, fried foods may bring on episodes of reflux disease because of their high fat content.

“Gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux may flare up during the rodeo season because of the extra consumption of these unhealthy foods,” he said.

Symptoms

Acid reflux is a condition where the contents of the stomach, which is mostly acid, do not stay in the stomach and instead go up into the esophagus. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Belly discomfort
  • Unexplained cough
  • Acid regurgitation
  • Bitter acidic taste in mouth

If these symptoms continue for a prolonged period of time it can injure the esophagus, resulting in potentially serious conditions such as esophagitis or Barrett’s esophagus, said El-Serag.

Take Action

El-Serag, who serves as the program leader of the Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences Program at Baylor’s Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, recommends healthy habits to avoid and ease the symptoms of acid reflux.

  • Modify your eating habits: small portions and low fats
  • Avoid peer pressure to engage in binge eating/drinking
  • Pack healthy snacks
  • Increase your physical activity
  • Do not go to sleep or lie down immediately after eating
  • Take a brief walk after meals
  • Use over-the-counter antacids or acid-suppressing medications (for 1 to 2 days)
  • If you do binge eat at the rodeo, make up for it over the next few days by choosing healthy behaviors

El-Serag says these tips will also help you avoid health complications down the road.