Acid Reflux–My Experience and How I Manage It

When I was a senior in college, I woke up my first day as a freshman orientation leader feeling really gross.  My stomach was hurting, I didn’t feel like eating, and I honestly thought that I might throw up.  So I avoided breakfast, got a Sprite, and pushed through the day.  Little did I know that I was going to feel super gross for MONTHS.  It seemed to not matter if I ate or not, what I ate, what I drank–no matter what I did, I just didn’t feel good.  Sometimes I would have to run to the bathroom because I thought I was going to be sick; sometimes I woke up at night feeling awful.  I lost about 15 lbs in a couple of months just from not eating enough because I was trying to avoid feeling sick.  It was awful.

When I finally went to a doctor and got diagnosed with acid reflux, that was the beginning of me trying to figure out how to manage my symptoms.  I was put on prescriptions, told to eat Tums all day every day, told to eat more cake and brownies to “soak up the acid” (for real, a doctor told me to do that), to drink more milk, and lots of other things that, frankly, didn’t help.  The medicine I was put on helped make my symptoms less severe, but I was still suffering from it every day.   We even went so far as to have an endoscopy to check my esophagus to check for damage or any other signs of something deeper going on than just acid reflux–only to come up with no answers.

It took me a long time to figure out how to manage my own symptoms, but after paying attention to what I was eating and how it made me feel, I was able to identify my trigger foods so I can avoid them: peanut butter, red meat, dairy, carbs, and sugary foods–like  the cakes and brownies I was instructed to eat at first.  Hmmm.

Coincidentally, when I started my health and fitness journey, one of the biggest changes I noticed was that my acid reflux basically disappeared.  When I’m taking care of myself–eating clean, working out, and drinking my Shakeology–I have no issues with acid reflux.  When I eat too much junk and skip workouts, I can tell immediately in my acid reflux issues–I will start to feel sick and not be able to sleep well.  It’s one of the biggest signs my body gives me that I’m not taking care of myself.

One of the best revelations that my doctor helped me uncover is that for me, my acid reflux seems to be very linked to stress and anxiety.  I was told that the fact that my acid reflux literally just started one day, and during a stressful time of my life–planning a wedding, senior year of college–suggested that my symptoms were really caused by stress.  Working out regularly and properly fueling my body lessens the stress my body experiences, and thus reduces those symptoms.

For anyone else who is suffering from acid reflux, I would recommend a few things from my own experience:

  • Keep a food journal to keep track of what you’re eating and how it makes you feel.  Don’t just assume that your experience will fit the traditional trigger foods or relief foods that you’ll find online–it doesn’t fit my experience!  Keeping track yourself will empower you to make food choices that make you feel good instead of gross.
  • Work out!  If you’re like me and stress impacts your acid reflux, working out will reduce the stress by giving your body another outlet to release that stress without making you feel sick.
  • Drink Shakeology.  Part of what makes Shakeo awesome is that it has probiotics AND prebiotics to create a healthy environment in your gut, which could mean fewer issues with acid reflux (which means the pH levels in your gut are not what they should be).

Obviously, everyone is different, but these tips can help anyone.  Knowing what makes you feel awesome and healthy, versus what makes you feel gross, is an empowering thing.  Take some control of your health and make empowered, informed choices!

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