Acid: 1. Joan: 0.

Dear friends,

soup

Joan’s Miso/Soba/Tofu Soup. So simple, so clean, so comforting.

A few months ago, I had a vivid dream I was having a heart attack. I woke up groggy and fairly suspicious I was having a real heart attack instead of a dream about one. I even awakened Mr. Mom, but after a few moments of assessing my symptoms, I realized I really was suffering from a wicked case of heartburn.

I had been waking up miserable for a long time — bloated, gassy, and nauseated but without the tell-tale “burn.” It wasn’t until the heart attack dream that I bothered to Google “heartburn,” after which I figured out I had all the classic symptoms of acid reflux.

My first instinct, of course, was to load up on over-the-counter medicines. Surely a cocktail of Tums, Pepto-Bismol and Zantac could quell the fire within, I reasoned. It wasn’t until Labor Day — when an excessive platter of barbeque chased by beer and pie resulted in 24 hours of misery — that I was finally prompted to consult my physician.

The prescription-strength Zantac my doc prescribed did nothing to calm my symptoms. I went back to my doctor and ended up with a prescription for a popular proton pump inhibitor, although I was more than a little unnerved by the two-page list of possible side-effects.

I had been joking with colleagues that food is my only joy in life, so I wasn’t about to declare my diet the enemy. But there was something about the warnings on my medicine bottle that persuaded me a lifestyle change might be advisable.

Thus, I’ve spent the last two weeks keeping a detailed food diary in an attempt to identify possible culinary modifications.

It may be a little too soon to go all Sherlock Holmes on my case, but it appears that cutting back on meat (where cutting back = eating vegetarian) has helped quite a bit. It also appears that with the exception of chocolate (to which I have an immediate reaction), various foods and spices aren’t the triggers as much as timing and quantity.

For example, I ate yellow curry three times with no reaction. (The curry was plenty spicy and oily, the combo of which can be troublesome for many folks.) Then I ate spicy Mexican twice, with painful results. The difference was that I ate modest amounts of the curry at least three hours before bedtime, while I consumed far too much Mexican food not long before turning in.

Big meals or regular snacking after 7:00 pm are a recipe for middle-of-the-night disaster, it seems. So far, making a few timing adjustments and eating far smaller portions appears  more manageable than what I feared would be the wholesale elimination of all joy in my life.

I’ve always been a fan of tofu, so switching from meat to soy has been easy-peasy. And loading up on vegetables and whole grains has been similarly effortless. The biggest adjustment has been staying out of the kitchen/pantry after 6:00 pm, when every snack known to man calls my name.

Acid Reflux may have gotten the first punch, but my footwork is improving and I wouldn’t count me out yet.

With gratitude {for a new emphasis on culinary diversity and moderation},

Joan, who, after months of acid-reflux insomnia and 4:45 am wake-up calls to run, spent somewhere north of 15 hours in bed on Saturday and finally woke up heartburn free and well-rested, praise the Lord

 

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Comments

  1. After reading that last sentence “woke up heartburn free and well-rested” I’m wondering if that scoreboard has it backwards… So are Mr Mom and your son going meat-free along with you?

  2. Deb — Oh heck no! They are confirmed carnivores. If I make a veggie-only or tofu dish, they will gladly eat it, but otherwise they’re looking for every opportunity to “meat up.”

  3. Have you looked at what are known as the doshas in ayurvedic medicine? There are three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, An ayurvedic practitioner might say that acid reflux is the aggravation of Pitta. My knowledge of the doshas is miniscule, but I put a lot of stock in the wisdom of ayurveda.

  4. M’del — If your knowledge is miniscule, mine is not visible to the naked eye. But I’ve always been intrigued and would love to know more. Do you know any ayurvedic practitioners? I might buy the book “Eat, Taste, Heal: An Ayurvedic Guidebook and Cookbook to Modern Life.” Looks right up my alley.

  5. Hi Joan. I had a yoga teacher in Santa Monica who was also an ayurvedic practitioner (and a chef), but he’s the only one I know. His name is Jeff Perlman. Let me know if you want his email or phone. I’m pretty sure he’s on LinkedIn and Facebook. I don’t know any practitioners closer to home but I will ask the yogis I see in class.

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