Are you living with GERD, heartburn, and acid reflux and wondering why a food can be okay one day then cause problems the next? Have you tried to follow a GERD diet (usually a long list of foods to avoid) only to find it too restrictive or providing inconsistent relief? Here’s why – the approach of avoiding “trigger foods” is just a bandaid – sometimes it works, but usually not for long. Avoiding “trigger foods” only treats the symptoms of digestive issue, it isn’t actually addressing the underlying cause.
Digestive issues are usually a sign of inflammation. When you eat to lower inflammation, you’ll experience relief and will likely be able to tolerate many of those “trigger foods”. I know first hand – I lived with GERD, IBS, and delayed gastric emptying but I got off all my medication just by getting my eating to work better for me.
It’s true what they say, change how you eat and you’ll change how you feel — that’s what I am here to help you do. Keep reading and I’ll outline two simple actions you can use to take control of your GERD (and digestive issues) through diet.
Inflammation and a GERD Diet
There’s great new thinking in the scientific and medical community around what causes GERD and its connection to inflammation. According to Mayo Clinic, GERD occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. This backwash (known as acid reflux) irritates the lining of the esophagus and causes the sensation of heartburn. We know that what you eat can impact the amount of acid reflux you experience and new research suggests a strong connection between inflammation and GERD.
Certain foods cause more inflammation than others. When you have a sensitivity to a particular food, your body reacts as though the food is an irritant. This then causes mild but long term irritation throughout your digestive system. It is newly believed that although this long term, mild inflammation goes largely unnoticed by the person experiencing it, it is the root of many diseases including GERD, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.1
Step 1 – Activate an anti-inflammatory GERD diet
- Eat more vegetables and fruit — 1/2 of your plate. Try to make half of what you eat per day a colorful spread of vegetables and fruits. The more colors on your plate, the more likely it is that you’re getting all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that you need to reduce inflammation and improve digestion.
- Eat lean, healthy sources of protein — 1/4 of your plate. Protein helps you feel full for longer while helping reduce inflammation.2 Choose lean cuts of animal meats (fish or white meat chicken) as they have less fat, which can be difficult to digest. Plant-based sources of protein (like beans, lentils, seeds and nuts) are a key part of a healthy anti-inflammatory diet.
- Eat less sugar. Research proves that sugar is directly connected to inflammation. One easy way to manage your sugar consumption is to track your packaged foods and adhere to a daily limit. Aim for 25 grams for women, 38 grams for men, and 18 grams for kids. Try to choose low sugar versions of your favorite foods.
- Reduce grains — No more than 1-3 servings a day. Grains get converted to sugar as part of digestion and your body produces insulin to manage the sugar. Research has found that this impacts inflammation. Enjoy grains, but keep them contained! And remember, not all grains are the same. Aim to get whole grains into your diet and swap out refined or enriched grains. (Refined and enriched grains have had all their heart-healthy nutrients removed). Whole grains are rich in fiber, which is a key nutrient for reducing acid reflux and supporting a healthy gut. Read labels and look for “100% whole grains.”
- Eat less dairy – No more than 1-2 serving per day. Dairy, found in milk, cream, cheese and Kefir, can cause inflammation. They can get harder for people to digest as they get older, especially for with GERD, acid reflux, heartburn, IBS, and other digestive issues.
Worried this is too much to make happen? My online program combines the nutrition info + food skills + support to help you shift your eating to work for you. It guides you step-by-step to apply the power of evidence-based healthy anti-inflammatory eating and master a GERD diet that’s right for you.
Step 2 – Identify your harder to digest foods
Foods that you cannot digest well cause inflammation in your system. There are seven foods that are harder for everyone to digest. These foods are: gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, large citrus, and pineapple. If you are experiencing digestive issues (heartburn, gas, bloating, IBS, or GERD) it can be a sign that you have food sensitivities that you need to identify.
I’ve had great success working with participants through my program to systematically evaluate their diet and determine which foods are causing issues. You experience if a food is a problem and you can use that information to figure out how much of it you should include in your day.
Unlike allergies, food sensitivities come and go. Things like stress, sleep, the amount you consume, and the other foods you eat with it, can impact your sensitivity. My approach is to take all of these foods out at once and then reintroducing them one at a time. Only this will help you get a true read on your sensitivities. We’ve had people swear that they don’t have a problem with any of these foods only to go through the trial and discover that they actually do. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you owe it to yourself to figure it out.
You Got This – Master your GERD Diet
Ready to take action? It’s possible to take control and learn how to manage your digestive issues. It just takes the right knowledge, skills, and support. You can create a new relationship with food – you just need an easy way. My online program has helped thousands figure it out. Get relief, experience a calm and easy digestion, and reap the larger health rewards of a healthy anti-inflammatory lifestyle. I’d love to show you how!
Try out a the first session of my program as my guest, and together we will turn anti-inflammatory eating into a delicious lifestyle that you’ll love.
Like this article? Check out Anti-Inflammatory Tip – Reducing Acid Reflux Infographic and more resources.