Acid Reflux and Cheat Meals

Acid Reflux and Cheat Meals

With my newfound understanding of ADHD and its impact on my life, I've embarked on a transformative journey, completely revamping various aspects of my lifestyle, starting with my diet.

I've come to understand that certain foods, which I once enjoyed in moderation, are simply not compatible with my dietary needs anymore.

It's not about moderation for everything any longer for me; it's about eliminating certain items altogether.

Surprisingly, I discovered that even my occasional indulgences, commonly known as cheat meals, were triggering acid reflux and intense intestinal pain. I was perplexed by this revelation. However, I learned that I can either find healthier alternatives or modify the ingredients to create versions that are better suited for my irritable bowel syndrome. Previously, I had believed that since it was a cheat meal, I would be able to tolerate it without consequences. But that's no longer the case.

I don't have the spare time to feel crappy at all, for any duration. I have already spend so much time managing my disability, nothing that has negative effects on me that can be avoided should be included in my life or diet. 

Ultra-processed foods can contribute to acid reflux and heartburn due to several factors:

1. High (Bad) Fat Content: Ultra-processed foods often contain high levels of unhealthy fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats. These fats can relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle that acts as a barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. When the LES becomes relaxed, stomach acid can flow back up into the esophagus, causing acid reflux.

2. Low Fiber Content: Ultra-processed foods are typically low in dietary fiber. Fiber plays a crucial role in digestion as it helps regulate bowel movements and promotes healthy digestion.

When the diet lacks sufficient fiber, it can lead to more difficult digestion and increased pressure on the stomach, which can trigger acid reflux.

We are told that carbs absorb stomach acid... Yes, complex carbs do this (sweet potatoes, whole grain bread, and on are fine - also within reason and with proper protein and fat proportions in quantities tailored to you using MyFitnessPal). Not simple processed carbs - those are basically trash and should be consumed only in moderation unless we're talking about athletes who need fast digesting glycogen.

And while it surprised me too, simple refined carbs can contribute to acid reflux because of their destruction of gut flora due to the lack of fiber.

3. Chemical Additives: Ultra-processed foods often contain a wide range of chemical additives, such as preservatives, artificial flavors, and colorings.

Some of these additives can irritate the esophagus and disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive system, potentially leading to heartburn and acid reflux.

4. Excessive Sugar and Spices: Many ultra-processed foods are loaded with added sugars and spicy ingredients.

High sugar intake can contribute to the overproduction of stomach acid, leading to acid reflux. Overly spicy foods can also irritate the esophagus and exacerbate symptoms of heartburn.

5. Carbonated Beverages: Soft drinks and carbonated beverages are often consumed with ultra-processed foods.

The carbonation in these drinks can increase the pressure in the stomach, forcing stomach acid back up into the esophagus and causing heartburn.

6. Poor Nutrient Quality: Ultra-processed foods are typically low in essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

A diet lacking in these nutrients can weaken the overall digestive system and increase the risk of acid reflux and heartburn.

A lot of this nonsense takes up space, but offers no fiber and energy, it sucks the life out of us! How is that enjoyable? Maybe momentarily; however, it leads to massive issues later - even if those issues are not yet visible.

Buy the best that your budget can afford, but be mindful.

Remember, how you choose to "drive" your health choices is a deeply personal matter, never be afraid to bring your own snacks when out and about so you're not dependent on fast food and junk. It doesn't matter what everyone else does, you're YOU!

Of course, while ultra-processed foods can contribute to acid reflux and heartburn, individual susceptibility and other factors such as stress, lifestyle choices, and underlying health conditions can also play a significant role... but there's no need to keep anything in the diet that exacerbates acid reflux either.

Overall, it is advisable to prioritize a balanced diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods to maintain optimal digestive health and reduce the risk of acid reflux and heartburn.

If you need quicker options, less refined on-the-go options still exist.

Combining blood sugar spiking items with protein reduces the impact and is one way to still have cheat meals.

The blood sugar spike - even if you don't combine it with protein will likely go right back down within seconds if you are not diabetic - this isn't saying not to be careful... but the Glycemic Index doesn't cover foods eaten WITH a protein, it just covers it eaten on its own.

All this said, cheat meals are ideally composed of quality ingredients. Not food-like substances grown in labs.

Bottom line, aside from choosing as much quality as you can afford... cheat meals should include a quality protein source or a protein shake on the side if you're choosing a dessert option as a cheat meal because protein still matters and why not mitigate sugar spikes (diabetic or not).  

Even with intense sports, sustained energy is probably better for performance anyway. Slight spikes from fast digesting carbs but not extreme ones... That's a story for another day though.

*If you're experiencing chronic or severe symptoms, it's always best to consult a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. This blog post is not to be construed as medical advice or health advice, this is only meant for inspirational purposes. 

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