By Patricia Raymond, Michelle Beaver

To reduce your acid reflux, you need to cut back on or give up some foods. The variable is that you can choose the pace. Here are your options:

  • Go cold turkey. Give up all trigger foods and do the diet 100 percent right from the beginning.

  • Ramp up slowly. Cut out trigger foods gradually over time.

Either way, before you know it you’ll avoid trigger foods without even realizing it — the plan will become easy and instinctive. But you should still decide which option works best for you.

Going cold turkey on the acid reflux diet

Dive in head first!

You’re in this!

Heck, yeah, let’s do it!

If those sentences excite you or you relate to them, your best route is cold turkey. Everyone is different. If you tend toward making big changes all at once, you’ll probably do well by following this diet and plan to a tee — no messing around, no exceptions — for a month and then rating how you feel.

Normally it’s wise to take change slowly, but in this case, the diet is so nuanced and easy to incorporate that you can take the plunge and go cold turkey off trigger foods. This option will also give you a clearer idea of whether the diet is working for you.

For instance, assume you have acid reflux three days a week and you avoid all trigger foods for one month. If, in that month, you find that you only had acid reflux once and in the very beginning of the trial, that’s a clear indicator that the diet is working for you.

Here’s how to go cold turkey:

  1. Tell your friends and family about the diet, if you want.

    After you tell them, start the diet soon after. This will keep the momentum going.

  2. Throw out trigger foods that you have in your house, if they tempt you.

    If canned tomatoes are easy for you to ignore, keep them. If you can’t possibly ignore the fresh grapefruit juice your neighbor brought over, get rid of it or ask someone else to consume it for you.

  3. Make your meal plans and shopping list for the next week, or maybe the whole month.

    On this cold-turkey route, you’re going to do things even if you’re uncomfortable with them. For instance, if you’re used to a nightcap every evening before you go to bed, that’s just going to have to change, at least for a month while you see what bothers your reflux and what doesn’t.

  4. Decide what day and hour you’re starting the diet.

    Starting on that day and hour, you will not consume a single trigger food. Not even a teaspoon of it. Not even a small glass of orange juice. No hot sauce on your burrito. Try to stick with this for an entire month and see how you feel.

  5. Start making acid-reflux friendly recipes.

Take note of how you feel as you make these changes.

Easing in

Here’s the upside to easing in: It’s less scary and less dramatic. Also, sometimes when you make changes slowly, they stick better. Easing in to this diet means that you still have some of the trigger foods, but maybe smaller portions of them. It could also mean that you completely cut out some trigger foods, but not others.

You may be worried that a cold-turkey approach could cause you to eliminate foods that don’t trigger acid reflux in your particular case. For instance, maybe you love salsa and you don’t want to give that up if you don’t have to. You can eliminate trigger foods systematically and then reintroduce them.

Some progress is better than no progress, so either way, cold turkey or easing in, you’re in much better shape than if you do nothing.