We are so happy to have Kimberly Tessmer, RDN, LD share her thoughts with RefluxMD’s members and website visitors. Diet is such an important part of managing GERD symptoms, that the more you know about food and meal planning, the better armed you are to win the war with acid reflux. Ms. Tessmer participated with RefluxMD on our new GERD-friendly meal plan and diet program, Recipe for Relief. We are confident that these five tips will help you design your diet for acid reflux.
It is comforting to know that the majority of people with acid reflux and/or GERD have the ability to take some control of their problem by implementing changes to their daily dietary habits. The following is hardly a complete list of changes you can make but instead a few tips to help you get started! These tips may not work for everyone but they are certainly worth a try to see what works for you and to help get you started on the right track.
Learn more: Why diet matters for ALL people with GERD
Tip #1: Cut back on high fat foods
Foods that are high in fat may not be as high in acidity and get as much press when it comes to acid reflux but they can take a toll on GERD sufferers. High fat foods, whether they are greasy fried fast foods, high-fat cheese, a juicy Rib Eye steak or those yummy chicken wings take more time and stomach acid to digest, which can delay stomach emptying and relax the LES or the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle between the esophagus and stomach. This in turn increases stomach acid production, bloating and other symptoms of acid reflux. Since we shouldn’t be eating these types of saturated fats for good health anyway, choosing leaner varieties such as skinless poultry, seafood, beans, lean cuts of red meat and low-fat or fat-free dairy products is a better choice. Unhealthy and dangerous trans fats have also been connected to esophageal disease and should be extremely limited in any diet. Not only will these changes benefit your reflux but your weight and your health as well. Triple bonus!
Tip #2: Eat smaller meals throughout the day
Forget eating three large meals a day as you plan your diet for acid reflux, and instead eat smaller meals more often throughout the day. Eating too much at one sitting can overwhelm the LES, causing symptoms of reflux. To help, try using a smaller plate as a way to ensure you eat smaller portions and don’t go back for seconds. If you are at a healthy weight then you can eat the same number of calories throughout the day but spread them out so you don’t eat too much at any one sitting. If you are overweight and looking to lose weight this can have a dual effect. Eat smaller meals to lower your calorie intake.
Tip #3: Try a little something before bedtime
Consume a dry starch such as crackers, plain toast or a small baked potato with NO liquids about an hour before going to bed. The dry starch can help to absorb gastric juices and keep them from refluxing back up into your esophagus while you are sleeping.
Tip #4: Drink beverages in between meals instead of with meals
Consuming your beverages between meals instead of with meals can help to prevent bloating, which can cause symptoms of reflux.
Tip #5: Identify your food triggers and avoid them
Triggers for acid reflux are different for everyone and that includes foods that can cause symptoms. Your goal should be to discover which foods trigger your acid reflux and to avoid those foods. The ultimate goal is to live a life free of symptoms without being on medications that are not meant to be taken long-term. There are certain foods that can be a trigger for the majority of people with acid reflux but those are for the general population and don’t always pertain to every individual. You may have food(s) that trigger your reflux but don’t trigger reflux for the majority of people. Pinpointing your food triggers so that you can avoid them and your symptoms of GERD may just be your best medicine for fighting your acid reflux but it is not always easy to find out. There are a few ways to identify these possible foods so that you can get to the possible root of your problems. You can keep a personal food diary or food trigger journal by writing down everything you eat daily and including the time you ate, portion size and how you felt afterwards. You may be able to spot a pattern after a short time. You can also try an elimination diet though those are better implemented with the help of a registered dietitian.
Learn more: 5 steps to an acid reflux diet
Ms. Tessmer is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Licensed Dietitian in the State of Ohio as well as a published author. She is the founder and owner of Nutrition Focus, which offers a wide range of nutritional services both for individuals online and for small and large organizations/businesses. MS Tessmer has over 20 years of experience in the field of nutrition and has authored nine books to date with more to come! She graduated from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, OH with a Bachelor’s Degree in Technology/Dietetics. She has worked in hospitals, nursing homes, and as a corporate dietitian for three national weight loss companies before launching Nutrifocus. Ms. Tessmer’s books can be found on Amazon and you can follow her on Facebook.
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