This is my story of how I cured my acid reflux – and also how I got it! If you suffer from it, then we probably have a few things in common. But I hope to show you the battle I faced, its ups and downs and how I eventually came out on top. It’s a story about taking action, overcoming ignorance, fears, and going against the crowd.
When I was young I had a very bad idea of what good food was. Pizza, pastas, breads, meats, chips, candies and sodas were the mainstay of my diet. Although I did enjoy salads, they were usually just a side dish, and always loaded with heavy dressings and even bacon or chicken too. There was a McDonald’s restaurant very close to my house and was my convenient fall-back option. Sometimes I skipped out from school lunch to make my way over there instead. However it’s hard to say which is healthier – McD’s might even be an improvement over American public school lunches!
But I also grew up in a generation where it was normal to eat microwaveable foods from a box or can. I even had the misguided idea that using a toaster oven was huge step up from a microwave in cooking and preparing food. Nonetheless, microwaves and toaster ovens were the only ways I could prepare any kind of cooked foods. The sophistication of boiling water would come much later and my cooking skills would reach their heights once I added grilling on the BBQ to my routine!
Although I ate many fruits, they lost their appeal to me and couldn’t compete with all the enhanced sweets and packaged snacks from convenience and grocery stores. In my university days, I worked in an Italian restaurant and spent roughly 5 years eating all kinds of heavy, greasy foods on a regular basis. The restaurant was well known and its food was better quality in terms of taste. So that led me to think I was eating better quality food. At this point I distanced myself from the canned and microwave foods, but I judged food quality based on a restaurant’s reputation and the price. If it was a better price, that might lead me to give it a try.
The Price of Ignorance
So I had been deluding myself all this time and without realizing it, I gained about 40 pounds (18 kg) in 5 years. This also included regular alcoholic binges and other poor lifestyle choices. But my food decisions were based on only a few factors – price, convenience and taste. Looking back, I had no idea what quality foods were. Nutritional content wasn’t even on my radar! Fresh, pure, natural, organic, whole foods – these words really had no meaning to me! I chose not to care because I was too busy moving forward with my life.
Soon enough I got the wake-up call and paid the price for this ignorance. When I was 24, I was rushed to the hospital because I thought I was choking. But actually I was just hyperventilating and panicking because a piece of meat was stuck in my throat! No matter what I tried, nothing would budge it loose! Drinking water, trying to vomit, bending over, laying down, etc., nothing worked! The doctors couldn’t even help and after several long hours, it eventually passed through by itself!! The whole time I never considered that I wasn’t choking – if I was I would’ve been dead of course.
This was the first time I was aware, but my esophagus had been so badly burned by stomach acid that it was raw and swollen. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. When it becomes inflamed and raw like this, food can’t pass through without difficulty, especially poorly chewed pieces of meat. This is called GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. It’s due to stomach acid coming up into the esophagus which causes it to narrow, form ulcers and even lead to cancer. Heartburn is the main symptom (but it’s nothing to do with the heart!).