Reflux and diet
What is reflux?
Also known as heartburn, reflux is a condition that is caused by a back-up of stomach acid into the oesophagus.
When stomach acid comes into contact with the walls of your oesophagus if can cause a burning feeling, and over time degrade the wall lining.
How to stop/reduce your reflux...
1. Aim for a healthy weight
If you are carrying extra weight this can place stress on your digestive tract, influencing your reflux. A few tips on methods to help with weight loss include:
- Keeping a food diary
- Aiming for at least 2 serves of vegetables at each meal
- Avoiding sugar sweetened drinks, and choosing water or tea
- Exercising for 30 minutes daily
- Eating off a smaller plate
- Aiming for at least 2 vegetarian meals per week
- Choosing wholegrains like quinoa, grainy bread, brown rice and wholegrain/pulse pasta
2. Avoid foods that trigger reflux
This is a list of foods that are well known to trigger reflux.
if you're not going to avoid alcohol... eat before you drink, drink less and drink water between each beverage
High fat & greasy foods
Carbonated/ fizzy drinks
Peppermint and spearmint
Tomato based sauces
3. Limit these foods
These foods can trigger reflux in some people.
Onions & some high FODMAP foods
Excess protein foods
Keep a food-symptom diary
Not everyone with reflux responds to the above listed (avoid/limit) foods. You are best to keep your own food-symptom diary and make note of when you’re reflux symptoms are exacerbated.
4. Follow these good food behaviours
a) Meal size
- Avoid large meals (greater than 2 cups of food at once)
b) Aim to include small meals across the day
- For example, a small breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea & dinner meal
- Avoid just eating 3 large main meals
c) Eat your meal slowly
d) Chew your food really well
e) Eat your meal sitting down at a table
f) Try not to drink too much while you are eating; small sips are best
g) Avoid talking and eating at the same time
h) Avoid eating within 2 hours of lying down or going to bed
5. A general guide to meal planning to prevent reflux
Keep it low in fat, especially unhealthy fats
Include small amounts of lean protein
Include more plant-based foods, such as vegetables and legumes
6. Lifestyle tips that can help with your reflux
Exercise: Include low to moderate exercise daily
Sleeping: Use a few extra pillows to keep you on an upright angle while you sleep
Also, sometimes lying/sleeping more on your left side can help
Stress management: Do not eat when you are stressed and have some strategies in place for when you do get stressed (e.g. meditation, yoga, swimming, a funny movie, music, etc.)
8. These tips may also help
Herbal non-caffeinated teas such as camomile may be helpful
Liquorice may help
Skim/low fat and/or almond milk can be helpful
Drink at least 2 litres of water each day
Wear loose clothing
A note on antacid medications (e.g. nexium). These can be useful in the short-term, however can cause further consequences if used for long periods. Make sure you discuss your reflux treatment plans with with your doctor.