Going to college can be extremely challenging for someone with acid reflux disease. The following five tips can help you stay healthy and to do your best throughout the semester.
Consider the quality of the food. Most colleges are feeding thousands of students several times a day. One of the ways they accomplish this large task is through the use of institutional food. This is food that comes in very large quantities and is often times prepared well ahead of time (which means they need to use bulk spices, preservatives, emulsifiers, etc.). When you are choosing reflux-friendly food, it is best to avoid some of these heavier, made ahead dishes. Wiser choices would be food with single or simple ingredients, such as boiled eggs, lean meat, or a salad with a very simple oil and vinegar dressing.
Be aware of when you are eating. We should eat when we are hungry or just before we are hungry. In a college setting, you are often limited to eating when the cafeteria is open or when you have a few minutes between classes. Late-night eating can also wreak havoc on your system. One way to combat the issue of timing is to stock up on your own reflux-friendly food so if you are not hungry when the café is open, you can just eat your own food when you do have a break and are not forced to eat a lot of bad food in a hurry.
Check the portion size. Most of the time it is better for someone with acid reflux disease to eat smaller meals more frequently. Eating in a cafeteria with large plates in an “all you can eat” setting every day can be extremely difficult. Try using a small dessert or salad plate for your meals and only take what you would eat at home for the same meal. In other words, if you usually have a sandwich and chips for lunch, just choose the same thing at college, even though there is much more available.
Know why you are eating. The college environment can be extremely stressful. You may be feeling homesick or worried about your grades. It is important that you develop ways to handle the stress that do not involve food. For example, if you are feeling homesick, reach out to your family or walk down the hall and try to find someone else who might be feeling the same way. If you are worried about your grades, make an appointment with your professors and meet with each of them. As a former professor, I know it is more fun to meet with a student than to grade papers.
Awareness is key. Many of your fellow students will be able to eat whatever they want whenever they want and feel fine. Most likely, if you have acid reflux disease, this will not be the case for you. After some time, you will figure out what works and what does not work for your digestive system. In the meantime, it is important that you know what you are eating, when you are eating, how much you are eating and why you are eating.