All hail the summer season! The heat turns up, the grills come out, there’s meat galore and oh so many beers to be had. But hold that thought if you’re an acid reflux sufferer. Because all those things we just listed could actually leave you feeling pretty terrible if you’re not careful.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (your esophagus). For some people, this can be more than just an inconvenience, but somewhat debilitating, causing you to miss out on summer activities that you love (like pool parties and cookouts). The good news is there are a few preventative measures you can take to reduce its frequency this summer.
Please note, if you are experiencing chronic acid reflux, you should talk to your doctor about it.
Keep Your Meats Lean
Although it can be tempting to slap a big, juicy burger on the grill, reducing flare ups means reducing the foods that trigger them, which sometimes include our summertime favorites. While you don’t need to swear off fatty foods entirely, adding leaner meats to your diet is a choice your stomach will thank you for later.
Leaner meats include chicken, fish, turkey, and pork chops (with the fat trimmed), as well as red meats with lower fat content (think 90-10 for burgers or even Bison meat which has a much lower fat content).
Watch the Marinades
You could grill a perfectly lean piece of meat and still feel the burn if you’re not careful with the seasonings. Spicy foods and bold marinades that use citrus or highly acidic foods can also trigger acid reflux. Watch the sugar content, spice level, and ingredients of your marinades and seasonings and you should be good to go.
Know The Common Triggers
When it comes to summer foods, there’s a wide range that can possibly trigger your symptoms. Obviously acidic foods like citrus (lemon/lime), tomatoes, and oranges can be triggers, as well as other items like alcohol, chocolate and caffeine (soda/tea). Certain seasonings with strong tastes like black pepper, garlic, and raw onions can be upsetting too, which is why you should avoid any plate that uses them excessively (even if it’s fresh vegetables). Depending on the opinion of your doctor, you might be fine in moderation under certain instances, however, it’s best to air on the side of caution until you’ve worked on a diet specific to your condition.
Eat Smaller Meals
Another helpful tip for acid reflux is reducing the size of your meals while increasing the frequency of them. Eating large meals tends to overwork the digestion process, causing stomach acid to be sent up the esophagus. A regular diet of smaller meals tends to speed up your metabolism and can help with weight loss (which also reduces acid reflux).
Don’t Lie Down After Eating
While it can be tempting to plop down and enter into a food coma, this is actually a pretty big cause of acid reflux. It’s good to wait at least three hours before you lie down after a meal, letting gravity run its course. If you find yourself in need of a post-meal snooze, go for a walk instead. Your digestive system will thank you!
Get Some Activity In
Finally, working out can help with acid reflux and weight loss. Word of warning, high-impact exercises like running or weightlifting can potentially make symptoms worse – depending on how serious your acid reflux is. You should also avoid eating before working out. If you do find yourself needing to take things a little easier, exercises like yoga, walking, or swimming can be excellent choices. The overarching goal here is to get active daily, so be mindful of the type exercise you enjoy.