When you first get a diagnosis of acid reflux you may have absolutely no clue which foods are triggering your problems. There are certain foods that can tend to make acid reflux worse. Your doctor has likely given you this list and told you that smaller more frequent meals may help as well. Some things that can trigger acid reflux are coffee, soda, spicy foods, tomato products, citrus fruits or juices, high fat foods and large meals (overeating).
The tricky part is that not all of those foods are hard on everyone with acid reflux. There are also people who find that foods not on the “common triggers” list bother them too. Finding your own trigger foods can be key in figuring out what is causing your own reflux flares and getting the burn under control.
Keeping a food journal has been essential in tracking my own acid reflux symptoms and triggers as well as the symptoms and triggers of my daughter Ella’s acid reflux. It can be as simple as getting a notebook and jotting down foods consumed and subsequent symptoms. We all think that we will remember what we ate the day before but, if you are anything like me, the business of life can make those things kind of fuzzy at times. When you have a painful flare the last thing you need is to be “fuzzy” about what caused it.
It is also helpful to keep track of your medication schedule. You can use the same book you are using for tracking flares to place a check mark to indicate you took your medications on schedule that day. I have caused myself flares in the past by forgetting to take my medicine because I thought I already had. Another way to help with that type of forgetfulness is to use a pill box labeled with the days of the week. Be careful if you are using something like a solutab that the medication remains in the foil until you use it (moisture or humidity may reduce its effectiveness).
This may sound like a lot of work to do just to keep track of all of these things. Trust me on this one, the amount of time it takes to keep yourself “flare free” is a lot less than the time you will spend in pain if you are not able to keep your burn under control. Taking a little time to journal these things may save you a lot of pain in the future.
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.