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A scary new food world?

March 6th, 2013 at 05:58 am

In my last post, I wrote about my ENT visit and the likely diagnosis of "silent" acid reflux. While I still have to go back on Monday for an unpleasant pH test, I already spent a few hours last night researching foods I should and shouldn't be eating now, as dietary management is apparently very helpful and could even get rid of this condition entirely.

So that's why I say it could be a scary new world, cus many of the foods I thought were "healthy" were apparently exacerbating the silent reflux. I need to cut back if not eliminate at least some of these foods.

One thing I eat quite a bit of, for instance, is jarred pasta sauce (Classico/Prego) over pasta, sauteed onions and garlic and a fair amount of tomato paste which I use to thicken up my homemade soups.

After reading a few very interesting diet/nutrition books over preceding months and being especially interested in Robert Lustig's Wheat Belly, I had already embarked a few months ago on a quest to lower the overall amount of whole wheat and sugar in my diet.

As part of that effort, I cut back (but did not eliminate) pasta. I also began eating more fresh fruit, and lately I'd been on a pink grapefruit kick. I was really enjoying them and eating a whole one every other day after getting a big bag at BJs. Then I moved on to the navel oranges....

And of course I'm a big tea drinker, though I rarely have more than 2 cups a day. Caffeine is not good for silent reflux; although there's always decaf, I don't know if I could entirely give up that great caffeine kick I get in the morning and then again in early afternoon when I'm feeling ready for a nap.

Other foods that aren't good are fatty meats (don't eat these much), full fat dairy like milk and cheese), chocolate (is 1 small square of dark chocolate really all that detrimental?), cranberries and soda (gave that up for the most part a few years ago).

So the whole idea of acid reflux kind of flummoxed me because I'm not a soda drinker, I don't eat too many sweets and I do make a lot of my own meals.

Now truth be told, until I get the results back from the pH test (doc said he wants me to do a barium x-ray as well to check for damage to various tissue), I don't really know how bad my reflux is. So I may be jumping the gun somewhat on all the dietary stuff and I don't know if the stricter regimen advocated by Dr. Jamie Koufman in her book would be required or if following her less stringent "maintenance diet" would be sufficient.

Anyway, I'm going to get her book called "Dropping Acid...." It's all about the acid/alkaline balance in our bodies and from what I've read, there's an epidemic of acid reflux in this country because many of the foods we eat are high in acid. Manufacturers are required by law to line the insides of bottles and jars with acid, yes acid, to better preserve foods. (Another reason to eat fresh, not processed.)

I do already do a lot of my own cooking but there are certain processed foods I admit i rely on. And one of my favorite meals for many years was a big, and I mean big, bowl of pasta with Prego sauce.

The only time I experienced ANY acid reflux symptoms aside from this cough was when i had a big bowl of pasta a little late at night, in hindsight, too close to bedtime. Then I would wake up and feel that sour taste in my throat which I knew was reflux. This happened maybe a total of 5 times over the course of the past year or two.

It's supposed to be worse than the usual heartburn many experience because the throat is much more sensitive than the stomach. Oh well. Left untreated, acid reflux is more than just an inconvenient nuisance since it can make you susceptible to esophagus cancer, which has a high mortality rate. Oh well, Didn't know these things.

However, I am a mortal human being. At this point, I think I can realistically make the following changes in my diet:

1. Reduce caffeine intake from 2 cups daily to 1 cup daily; the other cup can be decaf.

2. Just knowing my own diet and what I tend to eat the most of, i think it pretty important to pretty much eliminate pasta sauce. It's concentrated tomato. I plan to give my sauce and most of the paste away to family and neighbor. HOWEVER, I think it would be relatively safe to eat fresh tomatoes on occasion, and I'm thinking in this spring's vegetable garden I would grow just cherry tomatoes for my salads. Freezing surplus tomatoes was always such a big deal to me,for use over the winter in soups. I don't know if I should still do that.

3. I can also cut back on sauteed onions quite a bit as i seem to put them in everything, from pizza to soups to you name it.

4. After cutting back sugar elsewhere in my diet (orange juice, Kozy Shack rice pudding and sometimes chocolate pudding) and occasional cookies, I had allowed myself sugar in the form of beneficial dark (60% cocoa) chocolate, 1 or 2 squares on most days. I'm reluctant to give this up as i don't really think the quantity was enough to cause much harm, but i will read the book once i get it and see what they have to say.

The problem is, there are tons of articles and food lists online, but many of them say don't eat such and such without really explaining why, and often certain foods are on different lists depending what website you're visiting. So for instance, a lot of sites said don't eat eggs with no reason given. Then I found one site that said it's really all the butter or other fats you fry the egg in that are detrimental. So now i'm thinking that a hard-boiled egg, maybe sliced in a salad, would probably be ok but eggs for breakfast, easy over, maybe not. (I use coconut oil.)

So as you can see i still have a lot of questions about the dietary things. Apparently goat cheese and feta cheese are ok, but "high fat" cheeses aren't. Lean meat and fish ok, fatty meat no. Nearly all fruit and veggies are ok, but i saw something about strawberries and possibly cucumbers (and of course those onions/garlic).

To think that while I was sick with that middle ear infection I was eating multiple cloves of raw garlic daily, for their infection-fighting capabilities.

The more time I have to think about it, the less I'm looking forward to my return office visit Monday. They will rig me up with a tube up my nose, about the length of a piece of spaghetti. It will be attached to a small computer at my waist and I'll have to somehow live with this think for a full 24 hours, including overnight. don't know how I'll sleep. Before the doc jammed that tube up my nose in his office, they sprayed my nose with something that numbed me. But how will it work when i have it in for 24 hours? Won't it become sore? When the doctor inserted it, it was uncomfortable, and borderline painful, although that could have been for just while he was inserting it; maybe it won't really hurt once it's in place.

Thank you to FreeMe Journey for your kind words. I welcome your feedback!

4 Responses to “A scary new food world?”

  1. CB in the City Says:

    It's hard to know what is healthy any more, with so many competing theories, and individual needs/conditions. I have flipped back and forth a lot on what I eat -- now I'm just trying to eat cheap, cut down on junk, and get a variety of foods.

    Good luck with your procedure!

  2. JulieA Says:

    That's really interesting. The Doctor just put my husband on a Mediterranean diet type of eating plan to try and get his cholesterol in check. Since I'm the one who needs to come up with dinner every night, it's been kind of hard on me. I've been trying really hard to stick with just basic food and very little from cans or jars. I'm slowly working toward trying to get around 85% of our food to be fresh vegetables and 15% lean meat. But it is HARD to keep enough fresh vegetables around here without running to the grocery store every three days.

    Good luck with your testing. The tube does sound really yucky and uncomfortable but hopefully it won't be nearly as bad as you fear.

  3. patientsaver.com Says:

    I know what you mean, JulieA. I like veggies,and i probably eat more than most people, but it seems like they take a lot of prep and don't usually fill you up. Fruit, on the other hand, you can munch on anytime and don't require prep.

    a lot of veggies are kind of blah/bland without some kind of creative dressing up, something i don't always have the energy for.

  4. ThriftoRama Says:

    I'm guessing the tomatoes and citrus are the roughest on you, as they are highly acidic foods.

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