Gastroesophageal Reflux

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Sometimes I like to pretend I know everything.

I’ve been gluten intolerant for seven years, lactose sensitive for five years, and have avoided alcohol and caffeine for the last six years due to the symptoms I’m presented with when I try and consume either of the two.

On top of this I follow the FODMAPS diet which helped me identify my intolerance to fructans and in particular apples, onions and pears. I will look into FODMAPS another time because that in itself opens a whole area of discussion.

Because of all the challenges I’m faced with when it comes to food, sometimes I like to think I’m an expert. I will willingly pipe up with information on intolerances, recommend food people should avoid and other little tidbits of information that probably drive those around me mental.

However, when an acquaintance of mine read my last blog post, she bought to my attention the existence of GERD. I had never even heard of GERD let alone the dietary requirements that go along with it.

Naturally I had to do a little research.

GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease which is condition where the stomach contents (be it food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus.

Perhaps a diagram would help…

When this leaking occurs, the esophagus naturally gets irritated and the individual can experience heartburn, nausea and the feeling that food may be trapped behind the breastbone.

Other less common symptoms can include coughing or wheezing, hiccups, hoarseness of the vocal chords, trouble with swallowing, food regurgitation and sore throats.

All very unpleasant symptoms to have to experience! I can imagine dealing with GERD will almost make your frightened to eat!

Luckily extensive research has been done to develop a diet to ensure those with GERD can keep most of these symptoms at bay.

Some of the most common food triggers of GERD include alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks such as Coca Cola and Sprite, chocolate, citrus fruits and juice such as oranges and lemons, tomatoes and tomato sauces, avocados and nuts with their high fat content, peppermint and spearmint, garlic, onion, spicy or fatty foods and full fat dairy products (the silver or blue top milk and tasty cheese – I’m looking at you!).

I don’t know about you but to me that looks like a super random mix of foods to try and avoid. While many on the GERD diet claim it’s “not too bad” once you’ve got the hang of it, maintaining control over this kind of diet can be particularly tricky, especially when traveling and eating out.

I have enough trouble eating out at restaurants when I say “gluten free please, and no onions” so I can’t imagine the looks I would get if I rattled off the list above – “no citrus juices, hold the tomato sauce and tomatoes and is it possible to have it without the spicy seasoning”

One aspect my acquaintance said she found particularly difficult to manage while on a GERD diet is the fact that many products replace the fat with spices.

Products that look like they could be okay for people on a GERD diet, the ones labelled low fat, are actually no better than full fat products as the food has been filled with a variety of spices to maintain flavour and texture.

When starting out on the GERD diet this means you will have to carry with you a list of the foods to avoid and spend time poring over the ingredient list of each item to determine whether or not the food is ‘safe’.

I guess one positive aspect of the GERD diet is that it will keep you healthy. You’ll be forced to bulk up your portions of other fruits and vegetables such as bananas, apples, carrot, broccoli, cabbage and peas while limiting the amount of sugar and full fat you consume.

The GERD diet has not just been recommended for sufferers of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease but also for those dealing with Irritable Bowel Syndrome!

There are numerous articles and discussions online which talk of the benefits people suffering from IBS have found while trailing the GERD diet.

While of course with any disease which requires a controlled diet, a great deal of what you can and can’t eat comes down to trial and error, a good place to start is by eliminating all the food outlined by the particular diet.

Therefore some people with GERD or IBS who are on the GERD diet may in fact be able to eat chocolate or drink orange juice, yet having any trace of onion may trigger the symptoms. Once you have eliminated
all the food, you can then slowly begin reintroducing each item to see what you do and don’t react to.

Embarking on the GERD diet may seem like you’re about to climb Mt Everest, and with the lack of ‘GERD friendly’ recipe books at times it can be.

However, if you suffer any of the symptoms suffered by those with GERD, or even IBS, perhaps giving this diet a try would be worth it in the long run.

With a little understanding of what food to avoid, a little reshuffling of your pantry and planning of your supermarket trips, you’ll get in the swing in no time.

You never know – the GERD diet may change your way of living!

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3 thoughts on “Gastroesophageal Reflux

  1. Well, there are many reasons to visit the Foodlovers website, but the GERD diet is definitely not one of them. Uk, I couldn’t stand life without any of the outlawed foods. I have one question about citrus. Why would they cause reflux, when as a weak acid, citric acid should act as a buffer to stomach acid? Otherwise, I take my daily GERD
    pill, and enjoy food and life.

  2. I have GERD which I handle with large doses of omeprozole (Losec) every day. That stuff is magical, though I need to take 40mg a day for it to do the job.
    I much prefer the idea that I could control it with diet alone rather than take large doses of drugs.

    I also have the IBS, and I have been trying everything – gluten free, wheat free, starch free, alcohol free, I lose count.

    I’m not so keen to avoid wine and chocolate, but if it fixes my intestinal woes it might be a price worth paying.

    Thanks for posting this.