How to Halt Your Heartburn!

 

Managing heartburn

Recently a student in a college nutrition class I teach raised her hand to contribute to a discussion on heartburn.  She indicated that her doctor told her to drink whole milk to help her heartburn.  She stressed that the doctor noted it HAD to be whole milk.  Since she was not interested in drinking whole milk, this recommendation was not followed through on by the student.  The recommendation was neither realistic for her, and probably not really the best advice to take anyway with regard to managing heartburn.

You know if you have suffered from heartburn.  Symptoms include a burning sensation in your chest, mouth, or both. You may actually have a burning sensation in either your chest, mouth, or both areas.  Your throat may be sore and you may even vomit.

Common factors contributing to heartburn include: pregnancy, smoking, certain medications, obesity, and alcohol.

Food Factors

Certain foods are known to aggravate heartburn. Take a look at the following list of foods and evaluate if your symptoms are worse when you eat these foods.

  • Citrus fruits (limes, lemons, oranges, grapefruit)
  • Spicy foods
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeinated food (coffee, soda pop, tea)
  • High fat foods (salad dressing, oil, butter, margarine, fried foods, rich desserts)
  • Raw onions and garlic
  • Tomato based foods
  • Peppermint or spearmint oils (sometimes recommended for irritable bowel syndrome)

Lifestyle factors.

By manipulating your daily habits, you can help to decrease your heartburn symptoms.

  • Make sure you eat a low fat diet
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Mange your weight and lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Avoid overly large meals-instead eat smaller meals more frequently.
  • If necessary, prop your head up with multiple pillows at night.  This makes it a bit more difficult for the acid to back up into your esophagus.
  • Drink liquids between meals, instead of with your meals.
  • Wear loose clothes.
  • Wait several hours to lie down after a larger meal.

Taking these first steps to halting heartburn can be very effective. You can always consult with a dietitian as well.  If your symptoms persist even after diet and lifestyle adjustments, you should see your physician for medical management of your problem.

 

The Meatless “Revolution”: A Health Savvy Trend

 

I just heard the term “meatless revolution” coined on an evening news program. Being a dietitian who is both professionally and personally a big fan of good nutrient dense carbohydrates-white potatoes, sweet potatoes, lentils, fruits, and vegetables- I am ecstatic to hear this is becoming a mainstream trend.

Apparently, US meat consumption has declined 30%, so my hope is this trend continues as it is good for our health and good for the planet.  Dietitians have been promoting this concept for decades. The USDA plate reinforces this eating “revolution” as well.

Why to eat less meat

So why should we cut down on meat consumption?  For dietitians, the answers are obvious:  this decreases total fat, saturated fat, and allows for calories to come from other food sources such has complex carbs which provide specific nutrients to the diet that would be lacking in a heavy meat diet.  Eating less meat is also a good way to decrease inflammation and cancer risk in some people.  Eating and growing more plant-based foods also consumes less energy and pollutes the environment less.  For every pound of bread made, one pound of grain is needed.  But for every pound of beef weight, eight pounds of grain are needed.  And, let’s not forget that cows pollute with poop.  It has to go somewhere, and often ends up contaminating our water and soil.

To embrace this so-called meatless revolution, start with:

  • Having a meatless meal a few times per week.  Try a lentil soup with whole grain bread or a vegetable topping pizza every Friday.
  • Making a conscious decision to decrease your animal protein servings to the size of a deck of cards; this is the portion size you should be eating, but many are eating 2-3 times that amount.
  • Substituting plant-based protein for meat options.  Try peanut butter in place of cold cuts on whole wheat bread for a hearty sandwich or lentils and beans in soups and stews to replace some of the meat the recipe calls for.

How do you downsize your meat?