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March 22, 2013 9:09 AM   Subscribe

Do good-tasting, low-acid, low-carb, lactose-free foods even exist? My body has apparently "acidic" to my enormous list of stuff I can't eat and I need some recipes and lifestyle tips.

I keep a low-simple-carbohydrate diet, which means I try really hard to avoid (i.e. eat a small amount once a week or less):
  • Beans
  • Cereals
  • Breads
  • Pastas
  • Legumes
Now my GERD has kicked up something awful (I'm doing everything I'm supposed to on the 'go see a doctor' end) which means for the time being I have to avoid:
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Pickled/fermented vegetables
  • Spiced meats
I'm also lactose intolerant, so no most dairy is out save for certain sorts of yogurts and aged cheeses. Apparently, that's now a moot point because all dairy is high in acid? Is that even right?

Basically, I have no idea what the hell I can eat anymore without incurring the wrath of my own organs. Considering my dietary restrictions, some flavorful recipes would be great. The "flavorful" part is important because that list of acidic foods above is, coincidentally, a list of my dietary staples. That stuff is in everything I eat.

Also, lifestyle tips for living with severe-er GERD would be great. Is there some sort of thing I can get to help me sleep more upright instead of just stacking up pillows? Is there a particularly good list of high-acid foods out there (I'm having trouble sorting the fear-mongering from the actual science.) Should I be taking some sort of supplements along with my medication? Can I drink anything except seltzer and water anymore?

posted by griphus to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Sigh, I'm so sorry to be the one to tell you this, but carbonation can really exacerbate GERD. I would drop the seltzer.

Iced caffeine free teas (decaf or herbal) would be a nice safe beverage option.
posted by telegraph at 9:23 AM on March 22, 2013

Ginger has done wonders for mine. You might try ginger tea.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:29 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

What's your green intake like? You could start upping your diet of alkaline veggies like spinach, kale, etc.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:30 AM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I know a guy who can't eat onions or garlic, but can eat leeks. Can you manage those? Or is it all alliums that tick your guts off?
posted by KathrynT at 9:33 AM on March 22, 2013

I can't answer the diet part, but this is a game changer for sleeping.
You could probably find one in any big box store for cheaper than the link.
posted by whowearsthepants at 9:34 AM on March 22, 2013

Response by poster: What's your green intake like?

Moderate-to-high, depending on what scale you're using. There's usually a portion with most meals we make at home.
posted by griphus at 9:35 AM on March 22, 2013

How are you with eggs? There's a lot you can do with eggs and you don't need dairy, especially if you're using really good eggs and don't mind the flavor of olive or coconut oil. (I don't have any lactose reaction to goat cheese, and a little good goat goes a long way, so it's up to you if that's something you want to try. Makes a nice Florentine omelet.) asavage just did an omelette video that improved the hell out of my technique.

Since you're having to jettison so many basic aromatics, what about herbs? Lemongrass, lime leaf, parsley, cilantro, maybe not chives - too onionish?, basil, etc? I've been eating a lot of chicken lately, closer to poaching than sauteeing, and you can pull a lot of flavor out of herbs into the poaching liquid and thereby the protein.

And ginger seems counter-intuitive, but I agree it has surprisingly good results when I am refluxy.

Most of the wedge pillows I've tried have been incompatible with side-sleeping (and that's how I sleep, there's no changing it), and they tend to be monstrously hard, but a lower-profile wedge you can put your own nice pillow on solves both problems.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:39 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seltzer is really a big problem if you can't eat acidic food. Combining carbon dioxide and water makes carbonic acid in solution in the water. If you've been drinking a lot of seltzer water, it might actually be the culprit because you are literally drinking acid with nothing to soften the blow in your stomach.
posted by zug at 9:43 AM on March 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

I have similar problems, but I swear that Greek yogurt and Kefir changed my life. That's really the only dairy my body can stand, and the probiotic richness of both has helped out tons with my GERD. Most of my diet consists of protein sources like eggs, fish, chicken, and beef, grains like oats and quinoa, and LOTS of veggies (bell peppers, kale, spinach, zucchini, and squash being among my current faves). I don't tend to eat much fruit since a lot of it is so acidic, though. I don't drink much aside from water, black tea, and almond milk.

I've been thinking about trying the Whole30 soon, which might work for you, too.

Regular exercise has also helped me quite a bit to reduce instances of reflux.
posted by singinginmychains at 9:43 AM on March 22, 2013

Chewing gum can sometimes help with GERD.
posted by nolnacs at 9:51 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also was going to ask if herbs work for you. Also fish? I feel like fish will do better taste-wise if you have to cut down on spices than a lot of meat will. So, for example, if you can do herbs, salmon with dill cooked in olive oil* is at least one tasty thing you could still eat without any problems.

* I'm not sure exactly what your acidity tolerances are -- I know that the closer you get to extra-virgin the less acidity you have, and although extra-virgin olive oil is tricky for pan frying because it smokes so easily, you shouldn't have problems with baking.
posted by invitapriore at 10:00 AM on March 22, 2013

Good thing roasted, stewed and grilled meats and vegetables taste so good! The trick is to bring brightness into your recipes without triggering your GERD - the "tang" tomatoes, onions and garlic bring. Tart fruits and veggies - apples, peaches, rhubarb and radishes - can bring some of the brightness back without being as acidic as citrus or tomatoes. In the spice drawer, lay in a variety of mustards seeds and powders as well as a selection of peppercorns* and cinnamon. Learn to love punchy herbs like oregano, rosemary and dill. Ginger is great - lots of tang, and isn't regarded as a trigger food.

Almost any recipe for basil pesto, you can leave the garlic out of. Same for any non-dairy ranch-dip recipe (there are a lot of them). Both make fine salad dressings. Olive oil in the pan makes almost anything taste better. Bacon is a seasoning in and of itself, and don't forget mayo! It's just eggs and canola oil - mayo or fresh avocado can bring the creamy mouthfeel dairy or cheese usually provides.

(* - Note: Avoid prepared mustards - lots of vinegar in there. Also, black pepper can sometimes be a GERD trigger as well, so keep an eye on it. Moderation when in doubt,)
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:25 AM on March 22, 2013

I have very severe GERD and in addition to taking a daily PPI I have found that my real triggers are eating too quickly and salads. So I would suggest that you keep an open mind about what may cause the worse symptoms.
posted by saradarlin at 11:13 AM on March 22, 2013

You can reduce the acid of tomatoes with baking soda--I've done this when making food for very acid-sensitive friends. Just be careful not to overdo it.

The ratio you'll need is 1/8 t. (TEASPOON) baking soda for every pound of tomatoes. If you're cooking them, add the baking soda when you add the tomatoes.

For onions, it's 1/8 t. baking soda for every three pounds of onions.

If you're making something with both onions and baking soda, focus on reducing the tomatoes' acidity (using the ratio above for the tomatoes) and then add just a very small additional pinch of baking soda to account for the extra onions' acidity. You don't want to add too much baking soda, as it can change the taste of the food if you go overboard.
posted by yellowcandy at 11:35 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Can you do squash or other starchy vegetables? They tend to be flavorful enough on their own to not need much in the way of seasoning or aromatics--a little salt and olive oil is enough, and other herbs if they're an option. They're also relatively easy to prepare (cut up, roast), and tend to be satisfying enough to serve as a main dish.
posted by kagredon at 1:03 PM on March 22, 2013

I've got pretty serious lactose intolerance, but I manage it with taking Lactaid pills. Have you ever tried that? Make sure you get the actual branded Lactaid Fast Act, not off-brand as for some reason those aren't effective. They're way cheaper on Amazon if you end up using them a lot.

My GERD went down a lot when I lost about 50 lbs. If you are overweight, it might be worth it to try to shed a few pounds. Also for me, exercise helps my overall digestive health.

Also, yes, ditch the carbonation.
posted by radioamy at 1:48 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

This list seems good.
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:29 PM on March 22, 2013

If you're doing low carb diet, I assume high protein and high fat food is okay for your GERD?

If that is the case, I would second the whole30 suggestion above.
Paleo recipes, with some minor adjustment, are ready made for your restrictions.

If you go this route, in the beginning the food might sound bland (drastic reduction on sugar, salt and sauces) but if you stick with it for 2+ weeks, your taste buds will change. By then chances are you'll start to notice and appreciate flavors without the need for extra flavoring. (I can now eat salad without the need for any dressings. Slices of apples or strawberries are considered extra treat).

3 things I would suggest: herbs, good fat, and good quality food.
posted by 7life at 3:55 PM on March 22, 2013

Fortunately you have high enough INT and WIS to work around this.

You can search allrecipes.com for recipes without certain ingredients.
posted by yohko at 4:18 PM on March 22, 2013

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