When you suffer from chronic acid reflux, your doctor often recommends certain lifestyle changes to try to help minimize the frequency of your reflux, one of which may be weight loss. In fact, if you’re overweight and you have acid reflux, it’s likely you’ve already heard this. That’s because being overweight puts a lot of extra pressure on the muscle in our esophagus meant to prevent stomach acid from splashing back up into the esophagus and/or throat. This muscle, called the lower esophageal sphincter, is weakened over time by this pressure and eventually stops functioning properly, which is what results in chronic reflux or GERD. Naturally, losing weight is a great way to reduce the pressure on your LES and give it a better chance at working the way it was intended to - and hopefully minimizing your reflux.
Easier said than done, right? Losing weight can be difficult when exercising only makes your acid reflux worse, and dieting with acid reflux just seems too complicated to even attempt. We know it can be tough, but with just a little thought and creativity you could be well on your way to a healthier you. Here are 10 meal plan ideas to help you lose weight while keeping your acid reflux in check.
Hard Boiled Eggs, Low-Fat Yogurt, & Apple Slices:
This yummy breakfast may not seem like much, but the eggs and yogurt pack a good punch without leaving you bloated or feeling overly-full. Make sure to eat your eggs boiled as to avoid having to use any oils or butter, and keep your yogurt low fat or fat-free if possible. Then, fit in your apple-a-day in easy to eat slices to top it off!
Plain Oatmeal, Sliced Banana & Berries, & An English Muffin:
The perfect breakfast for when you have a long morning ahead of you! Make some plain oatmeal with water or fat-free milk, then toss some banana slices and berries into it for extra flavor (try to avoid adding sugar!). If you’re still a little hungry, grab an English muffin from your favorite whole foods store.
Tuna Salad On Pita:
Enjoy about a cup’s worth of tasty tuna tossed with about ½ cup of nonfat, plain yogurt, a touch of Dijon mustard, and some finely chopped celery. If you’d like, you can also toss some spinach, kale, and bean sprouts into the mix for extra flavor and crunch. To keep this low-carb, make sure to only use ½ of the pita bread — save the other for later in the week!
Sweet Potato, Cottage Cheese & Baby Carrots:
Sweet potato is packed with wonderfully healthy carbs that your body needs, and it can be easily prepared in the microwave. Avoid using oil or butter, and if the potato is large, cut it in half and save the rest for later. Then, substitute sour cream with cottage cheese, which is a great source of protein, just make sure to get it in a low-fat or fat-free version. Add some carrots for your vegetable portion and voila!
Turkey, Cream Cheese, & Tortilla Wrap:
For this lunch, make sure to use fat-free cream cheese and a whole-wheat tortilla. Add about 3 ounces of lean turkey strips or deli slices, and if you want a touch of sweet, feel free to add some cranberry sauce in! Wrap it up and cut it in half to keep the portion small.
Lunch Salad & Soup:
This easy go-to meal can probably even be purchased at your closest Publix or Panera Bread — although it’s always better to make it yourself. For your salad, make sure to avoid acid reflux triggers like peppers, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, citrus fruits, onions, fatty dressings, vinegars, or citrus-based dressings. Instead, try veggies like kale, spinach, lettuce, peas, broccoli, carrots, or zucchini. Make sure your added meats are lean (chicken breast, turkey, lean fish, or shrimp) and feel free to add fruits! For your soup, simply make sure to keep it slightly bland, use lean meats, vegetables, and other alkaline foods.
Ginger Rice, Sauteed Mushrooms & Carrots, & Grilled Chicken Breast or Turkey:
The most important dinner tip is to keep your portions small, so for each of these items, make sure they’re about “palm-sized”. As a reference, that amounts to about 4 ounces for chicken. These pairings are all alkaline, just keep in mind to only lightly season them (no pepper!) and to avoid using butter or oil in their preparation.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Rotisserie Chicken, & Baked Asparagus:
Having a mashed potato night can be depressing when you’re on a diet, but by simply replacing your regular potato with a sweet potato, you’re making it a diet dish, which means less but better carbs and calories. If you’re on the run, grab some rotisserie chicken and simply peel off the skin and go for the breast, your dinner mates can enjoy the rest. Make sure to add a veggie - in this case, asparagus - which is a great acid reflux fighting food!
Zucchini Noodles And Shrimp:
Pasta isn’t the best for you, but veggie or zucchini pasta works as a great wheat-substitute and helps keep your acid reflux in control. Season them lightly with just a bit of oil, basil, and Italian herbs, then add about 3 ounces of boiled or grilled shrimp. Lean meat means happy stomach and weight loss!
Couscous or Brown Rice, Lean Steak, & Spinach:
If you think you can’t eat red meat just because of your acid reflux, then you’ll be happy to know that’s not quite true! If you’re going to eat red meat, stick to beef and make sure you’re buying extra lean sirloin ground beef (98% lean) or sirloin steak. When cooking it, don’t add any butter or oils, make sure to drain the grease, and for steak, grilling will allow excess fat to drain off. Make it a dish by adding some raw spinach and some couscous or brown rice for your complex carbs.
Eating right isn’t easy, and when you’re already struggling with a digestive or esophageal disorder it makes it even more difficult - but it’s not impossible! If you’re looking to lose weight to reduce your symptoms of acid reflux, speak to one of our reflux surgeons! Keep in mind that while losing weight may significantly reduce your symptoms of acid reflux, it may not completely eliminate it. To make sure that you’re taking the most appropriate path for getting rid of acid reflux, book an appointment to see one of our reflux surgeons at Tampa Bay Reflux Center.