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Before you can determine whether or not the acid reflux cures have worked and you reintroduce the foods you love back in your diet, you need to first eliminate all foods and beverages that are known to increase the risk of acid reflux. As a reminder, the following is a brief list of the foods that should be avoided:
- Fried and fatty foods – i.e. fatty meat, chicken skin, processed meats, cheeses and other food, as well as any deep fried dish.
- Spicy food
- Citrus fruits – oranges, lemon, grapefruit etc.
- Tomatoes and tomato based foods
- Raw onions
- French fries, mashed potatoes, regular potato chips
- Dairy products – full fat milk, regular cheese, sour cream, regular cottage cheese, ice cream, milk shakes
- High fat and oily sweets – doughnuts, regular cookies, etc.
- Soda and other carbonated beverages
- Regular Coffee and decaffeinated coffee
- Regular tea, decaffeinated tea and peppermint tea
- Citrus fruit juice
Even though not all of the above foods may trigger your acid reflux, as food triggers vary from person to person, unfortunately, you won’t be able to determine what foods are safe for your diet and which are not, unless you eliminate all possible triggers.
Once you no longer experience acid reflux symptoms from your diet, only then can you begin to try and introduce the foods you love back in your diet one by one. It is imperative that you only test foods one at a time, because if you eat more than one, and your acid reflux flares up, you will not be able to determine which food was the culprit, or if both contributed to the cause.
Creating a food diary
All you will require is a small diary/journal and pen/pencil for your experiment. Make sure you have this diary on you at all times when you introduce new foods to your diet so you can keep an adequate record and show your findings to your doctor.
Each time you introduce one of the foods you love to your diet record the following:
- The date
- The type of food
- The size of the portion
- The time you ate
- Your meal setting i.e. at the table, on the go, rushed or leisurely
- Any symptoms
When you reintroduce the foods you love to your diet for the first time, it’s a good idea to:
1. Prepare and eat the food at home
– When you prepare your own food you have better control over the portion you give yourself, and know what ingredients you used, or were used from the ingredient list on the back of a food product.
2. Eat only a small portion
Although tasting the food you love is very exciting, you must be careful not to overindulge. Eat a very small portion and slowly increase the portion to a recommended or healthy size if acid reflux does not occur over a two week period. By doing this, what you may discover is that while a small portion of your favorite food does not trigger acid reflux, a larger one might.
Each food type you introduce should be allowed a full two week trial period before you can determine if this food is safe to add back into your diet. Should you experience acid reflux shortly after eating the new food, there is a very good chance this particular food is the culprit. To be sure it is the food and not another factor, such as eating too quickly, or lying down directly after eating, try it one more time. If acid reflux occurs again, eliminate this food from your experiment, wait a few days, and begin with the next food trial.
If you can’t eat the foods you love without experiencing acid reflux, you need to avoid them. If on occasion you wish to treat yourself to these foods, take medication before eating to help counter symptoms. However, it is imperative you DO NOT make a habit of taking medication just so you can eat the foods you love whenever you want. The reason is because medication may only mask your symptoms, and does not stop acid reflux from occurring.
For instance, while antacids are ideal for neutralizing acid and relieving heartburn, overusing this medication can upset the gastrointestinal tract and result in side effects such as constipation or diarrhea. Furthermore, if a GERD sufferer has an inflamed esophagus; antacids will not heal the inflammation. The same can be said for H2 receptor blockers. Though these drugs are more effective than antacids, they do not heal an inflamed esophagus, and can cause side effects when taken for long-term including dizziness, headache, diarrhea, and kidney problems. Additionally, you need to be careful that acid reflux medication does not interfere or cause dangerous side effects with any other medication you may be taking.
Finally, keep in mind that even though you may discover you can eat some of the foods you love, not experiencing acid reflux symptoms does not mean acid reflux cures have worked. Sometimes acid reflux can be asymptomatic (silent), which means that although you may not feel the sting of heartburn, acid reflux is still causing damage within the body. So, it is in your best interest to not only keep a food diary, but also regularly consult your doctor to make sure silent acid reflux is not occurring and causing unknown damage.
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