When I was diagnosed with acid reflux, I was worried that I would no longer be able to enjoy our local coffee bar since caffeine can worsen acid-reflux symptoms. I have since learned to seek out beverages there beyond coffee. Here’s my advice on how to have a pain-free coffee-bar experience.
1. Enjoy a cup of herbal tea. Choose a cup of chamomile, licorice, or ginger tea. Chamomile, the common name for several daisy-like plants, may help an upset stomach. Licorice has been known to reduce inflammation, while ginger is well known to help with nausea. If your coffee bar does not carry herbal teas, bring your own tea bag and request a cup of hot water.
2. Order a low-fat vegan milk steamer. It seems like even the smallest coffee bar now has milk steamers as well as a variety of different milks. A cup of steamed almond milk with a shot of vanilla is my new go-to.
3. Try a specialty coffee drink. Sometimes the fancier coffee drinks contain coffee flavoring rather than actual coffee. For example, at Starbucks, the Acai Refresher has natural green-coffee flavor. There isn’t much of it in the drink — it appears toward the end of the ingredient list — so you may be able to tolerate it better.
4. Order from the kid’s menu. These days coffee bars cater to both adults and children. Be sure to check out the kid’s menu for hot drinks such as apple cider or eggnog. You may want to avoid hot chocolate, since chocolate can be a trigger for some people with reflux.
5. Get a smoothie. Most coffee bars offer at least a limited menu of smoothies. One of these drinks could help you take in some important nutrients, especially if it is made with real fruit. Try ordering the least acidic smoothie possible. For example, a peanut butter, banana, and almond-milk smoothie would be a great choice.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. Learn more about Tracy and what healthy living services and products she can offer on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.