January 15, 2012

No Salt, No Seasoning, No Problem(s)!

One of this week's dinners: black beans, kale with garlic, yellow squash, turnips, rye bread.

I'm thrilled by my food choices and results this past week!  I managed to navigate a work event with a luscious buffet (which included macaron cookies, truffles, and farmstead cheeses) and a going-away party (with garlic knots, baked ziti and cupcakes).  I ate modestly at both, I did sample some of the "trigger foods" (ziti, desserts), and I did know my limits.  The result -- no GERD aftermath.

Plus, I have been super-focused on eating for my gut the past few weeks; since Christmas, my guts have been beleaguered, all bloated and cranky, and acid reflux has been a daily mess.  The past three days, after weeks of restored mindful eating, things are finally settling down.

Today's photo is an example of a typical meal that does well with my cranky gut.  No salt has been added to anything (except a very small pinch to the beans to facilitate cooking), just a few teaspoons of olive oil was used to cook the kale and squash.    Except for the rye bread (which comes from a local bakery), everything here was obtained at my greenmarket.

My preparation methods results in foods I find flavorful -- not at all bland -- though I suspect some people might find it doesn't have enough "heat" or complexity.   And I've trained myself to ignore salt, using it only when it affects the cooking itself, as in dried beans or greens; even so, I use just a tiny pinch.  I could use loads of olive oil but restrain myself, measuring it out by tea- or tablespoonfuls at a time and usually using much less than called for.  No butter.  Other GERD-friendly cooking tricks that work for me include:
  • Roasting. Everything.
  • Minimal use of dairy -- this actually has pleased my palate as I have developed a taste for "clean" food rather than food drenched in creams or cheeses (and I never thought that would be possible!).
  • Frequent use of onion and garlic.  Who needs salt!?  Or even salt substitutes!
  • High quality ingredients, i.e. produce from the Greenmarkets (maybe this isn't necessarily GERD-friendly, but I am inspired by the high quality foods I buy there, and prepare and eat it more mindfully)
  • Soft food.  Not baby-food mushy, but food that "slides down the throat" easily like grits, softened beans, mashed potato, well-cooked vegetables.  I've noticed my digestive tract seems happy after such foods.  (Has anyone else experienced this?)


A huge difference over the past week has been returning to small portions and slow eating.  Again and again, I keep going back to this combo as the one thing that seems to truly help my GERD symptoms.   Several times during this last week, I ate "two fists' worth" of food, refusing second helpings and sometimes not finishing my plate if I felt full.  I also have been eating very slowly and chewing until liquified (or very well chewed).   It is amazing what a difference this makes.  I have not had heartburn, night reflux, acid, or apnea.  My symptoms now are the usual "food in throat" (but not "lump in throat") feeling, and bloating/fullness.  

One thing that strikes me about eating slow is how it seems decadent if you think about it in the right way -- you are getting twice (or three times!) as much pleasure from your plate as someone else eating fast.  That's like having two pieces of cake instead of one!

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