8 Eating Habit Changes to Minimize Acid Reflux

By Patricia Raymond, Michelle Beaver

The advice given here to help reduce acid reflux can work for any diet, whether you’re vegetarian, gluten free, or just reducing calories. The very first step is to decide that you want to change your habits.

Write down your goals

You aren’t changing your diet for nothing. What are the goals you’d like to meet? Here are some of the many possibilities:

  • You want to reduce your acid reflux (both the frequency and the severity).

  • You want to reduce your heartburn.

  • You want to reduce your chances of getting Barrett’s esophagus, or of making it worse if you already have it.

  • You want to reduce your risk of illnesses associated with acid reflux, such as asthma or esophageal cancer.

  • You want to feel better overall.

  • You want to lose weight.

  • You want to sleep better.

  • You want to learn more about what bothers your reflux and what doesn’t.

Write your own list of goals. Below that, write what you would like to feel.

Wherever you keep your list of goals, look at it occasionally to remind yourself why you’re making the changes you’re making.

Share your goals with a loved one

Sometimes verbalizing goals makes them more real. Sharing your situation can also build camaraderie and support. If you think that sharing your goals with a friend or family member will help you be more excited about the plan and stick with it better, then by all means, tell them what you’re doing and why.

Other people are more likely to stick to a goal if they keep it to themselves. Mum’s the word for that type of person. He may figure that his diet process will include some relapses, and maybe he won’t want to share every one of those bumps in the road with a well-meaning friend or family member who constantly inquires about his progress.

Everyone is different, so think about what will work for you and go with that.

Follow acid-reflux friendly recipes

Only you know exactly what your trigger foods are — a doctor can only guess. When you know what your trigger foods are, make or choose recipes that avoid them. You’ll start doing so subconsciously, most likely. For instance, if garlic bothers you, you’ll find that you don’t even consider putting garlic in your salsa. You’ll modify that recipe without even thinking about it.

Visualize yourself succeeding

You’ve got your list of goals and you wrote what you want to feel like. That’s great. Now, put that paper away and visualize the future. Does the “new you” feel calm and peaceful lying down at night, knowing that reflux won’t be a part of your night? Does the “new you” feel better in your clothes and in your skin because you lost weight by following the acid reflux diet?

That’s going to be you! That’s what you’re working toward. Visualize it, and make it happen!

Go easy on yourself

All right, you’ve written about success, you’ve visualized yourself successful, and you’ve followed the steps to be successful. Does that mean you’ll meet all your goals all at once? Not necessarily. There will be missteps along the way, and you may relapse.

When your reflux decreases, and your anatomy normalizes and becomes less sensitive, you may find that you can tolerate trigger foods a little better than before. You may be tempted to “push it” by eating those foods again and in bigger quantities. Well, that’s okay. You’ll learn how far you can push it and how far you can’t.

When you suffer those little missteps or relapses (maybe you’ll gorge on chocolate at a holiday party, or drink till drunk at a wedding), don’t be too hard on yourself. You fell off the wagon, or misunderstood the wagon. Now regroup and climb back on. When you visualize yourself being successful, visualize yourself being understanding, too.

Don’t waste these valuable experiences: Learn from them. What were the triggers that led you to misstep? Fatigue, lack of planning, lack of motivation? When you know your triggers, you can anticipate them and plan accordingly.

Decide whether to go cold turkey or ease in

Some people change eating habits better when they go cold turkey, while other people do better easing in. What’s important is to find the method that works for you. Some people think that cold turkey is too extreme, and that it makes them more likely to throw out the plan. For others, it’s the only way. You’re the one who knows.

Give yourself time to adjust

Whether you go cold turkey or you ease in, allow yourself time for the changes to settle. For instance, you may not have instant relief, or you may not lose weight instantly.

Finding your trigger foods and discovering which amounts of certain foods and beverages you can tolerate may take a while. Don’t expect to feel amazing in a day or a week. Just hope to feel considerably better one month after starting your new plan, and maybe you’ll feel considerably better at the end of the second month than you felt at the end of the first.

Stay positive

As much as you want positive results, it’s surprisingly easy to ignore them. A key to changing eating habits is to celebrate the victories that come along with the change. If three weeks after you start this plan, you generally feel really good, acknowledge that. The positive reinforcement will encourage you to stay on the positive plan.

Revisit your goals list and see how many of them you’re meeting. Write down how you feel now that your health is improving.