Cooking Your Way to Less Acid Reflux - dummies

By Patricia Raymond, Michelle Beaver

One way you can take control over your battle with acid reflux is to begin cooking your meals at home. It’s easy to just grab a quick bite from a restaurant after work or between picking up the kids at school and dropping them off at basketball practice. However, taking the extra time to prepare meals at home may be worth the effort.

Different foods affect people in different ways. Garlic may not bother you, but tomato sauce may be your kryptonite. So, part of the battle will be paying attention to what specific foods trigger your reflux. If you notice you get bad heartburn every time you eat an orange, it’s a pretty good sign that you should avoid that food.

In general, you should avoid foods that contain tomatoes, citrus, chocolate, and mint. Try to avoid cooking meals that use these particular ingredients, or figure out a substitute for the problem ingredient.

Another key is trying to make lighter, lower-fat meals. One easy way to do this is to bake or steam your food instead of frying or sautéing it. It’s a quick and easy way to cut some of the fat from your meal and make it easier for your body to digest.

Also try substituting lowfat yogurt for cream. Small recipe tweaks like that can go a long way in your fight against reflux. Cutting back on your meat portions and increasing your vegetable servings can also be helpful. Meats, especially those high in fat, take longer to empty from your stomach, which can be a problem for reflux sufferers.

Finally, include as many whole grains in your diet as possible (as long as you don’t have an allergy). Whole grains are filling and nutritious.

Drinking water with or right after your meal can also be a good way to reduce reflux symptoms, especially heartburn. Water will help flush stomach acid or food out of your esophagus and back down into your stomach. On top of that, water can dilute any acid trapped in the esophagus. The more diluted acid is, the less damage it can do.

Although water can be helpful, you should avoid drinking carbonated water. Carbonated water can increase the pressure inside the stomach which can make the LES malfunction.

Just as there are foods you should avoid because they can trigger reflux, there are also foods that can reduce your risk for reflux.

Oatmeal is always a good choice. Not only is it healthy in general, but it’s also a lowfat, high-fiber meal that can help soothe the stomach. Ginger is another great ingredient for people with reflux. It has anti-inflammatory qualities and is often used to treat digestive and gastrointestinal issues, such as reflux. According to some dietitians, fruits like bananas and melons are often tolerated well by people who suffer from reflux.

In a small percentage of patients, bananas and melons can actually make reflux worse. Generally, you should look for fruits with a higher pH and avoid acidic fruits like oranges or lemons.

Try to incorporate as many greens and roots into your diet as possible. Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, and green beans are all very nutritious and won’t contribute to your reflux or GERD, unless you deep-fry them.

Fennel can be another great food in the battle against reflux. Studies have shown that it helps to soothe the stomach while improving its function and efficiency. Slice it thin and add it to a salad or a chicken dish for a quick, healthy, heartburn-free meal.

And don’t be afraid of eating a few complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice. They’ll give you fiber and energy and won’t cause problems for your reflux.

The other thing you’ll want to pay attention to is your choice of protein. Instead of eating high-fat meats, including most red meats, try switching over to leaner choices like chicken or turkey. Sometimes just switching to a leaner meat can be all it takes to reduce raging reflux to a manageable condition.

The good thing about lean meats is that you can cook them in a variety of ways to keep from getting bored with the same meal day-in and day-out. Go ahead and bake, broil, grill, or sauté your poultry, but be sure to remove the skin because it’s high in fat. Also, try incorporating more fish and seafood into your diet. Most types of fish are great lowfat choices.