Healing Diets: How I Learned To Live With Someone Else’s GERD
When your partner finally figures out what the heck has been bothering him all these years, it’s a eureka moment. Lots of jumping up and down and knocking over glasses and slightly messy kisses and stuff like that. And then come the questions:
So what the heck is GERD?
How are we going to deal with this?
Wait, I’m going to have to do what?
Well, first things first. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a manageable, yet painful condition that involves a sudden surge of stomach acid into the throat, which causes stomach and throat pain, crippling heartburn, and chronic coughing. It’s not pretty.
And if someone you love has it, you'd pretty much do anything to make it go away. Sometimes change isn’t just something that would be nice to do, it’s something you have to do. And when that’s the case, you just have to roll up your sleeves and face it head on.
Ultimately, the key to lasting relief does not lie in taking lots of meds—just ask Dr. Jorge E. Rodriguez. He has a blog here and a book here that are both wonderful resources for recipes, information, and advice about living with GERD.
His approach advocates more of a lifestyle change than anything else, which means that yes, you will have to modify or (ahem) ditch some of the eating practices that you’ve come to depend on over the years. But change is good, right? Especially if your boo starts feeling better, and somehow you manage to shed a few pesky pounds too.
So here’s what I found really works. If you’re not the one with GERD, you don’t have to follow all these guidelines, but when you’re sharing home cooked meals, then yes, you must abide.
And without further ado, THE LIST:
- Drink Ban: Don’t drink anything just before, during, or after eating. Seriously. Extra liquid only swells the stomach, which forces acid up towards the throat. So it’s a no no.
- Don’t Go There: Going back for an extra bowl of chili? Well, think again. Overeating also causes the stomach to swell, and then the acid... well, you get the picture. And if you’re like me, eating seconds while your boyfriend has taken a pass doesn’t seem to make much sense—he’s a lot bigger than me, and if he doesn’t need the food, do I? (Okay, sneak in cheats here for taco night).
Sound easy so far? Here’s a couple of doozies for ya:
- Hot Stuff: Spicy food is so good, so very very good, I should be the spokeswoman for Cholula hot sauce. But if you want to banish GERD for real, you’re going to have to lay off the serranos. Spice is alright, but only in moderation, so I usually make all meals a spice optional affair with an array of condiments to add according to my family’s individual tastes.
- Acid Heads: Tomatoes, lemons, citrus, all the bright, acidic, and tangy vinegars that make food taste just divine . . . yeah, not so much. They’re gut busters. I mean, you can do it, but again only in moderation. This switch was real painful for me, because I love a good vinegar, so I’ve experimented with levels until I found the right amount of each that my boyfriend can handle.
- The Beer End of the Business: Oh, the irony. My boyfriend was the one who got me into hoppy, tasty IPAs to begin with. And now all those hops are just the thing to start another acid attack. But craft beer lovers take heart: there are a lot of quality lagers out there, which are totally fine on the stomach. My recommendation is 3 Floyd’s Jinx Proof. So very good.
- The Curse of the Mogwai: Late night snackers beware. Eating too late at night can be just as bad if not worse than eating too much. And if you don’t want your loved one to go gremlin on you, then pass on the midnight pizza order.
So is some of this tough? You bet. But hey, I’m just glad that my boyfriend’s feeling better. And that with all the changes, I still get to eat pizza—just not after midnight, of course.
Editor's Note: We're not doctors. We don't even play them on TV. Please consult with your preferred healthcare professional before making any drastic diet changes.