I have been struggling with a chronic reflux problem since early 2013, and I have managed to bring it under control with dietary modifications. One very welcome side effect of these changes was a significant weight loss, which allowed me to wear a size smaller in clothes and shave nearly four inches from my waist. I’m also comfortable enough to wear my bikini in public again. By eliminating gluten-containing foods and adding high-fiber foods to my daily diet, I managed to shrink from 170 to 140 pounds and finally get out of the overweight BMI range. I did all this with absolutely no change to my regular exercise habits.
Medical Problems Force me to Face My Bad Eating Habits
As I get closer to age 50, I have come to appreciate the positive effects of healthy foods. I cook with coconut oil and olive oil, and I avoid processed foods as much as possible. I buy grass-fed beef as often as I can afford it, and I cook with reduced amounts of honey, organic sugar or coconut sugar. Despite my healthier food choices, I was still eating too much of my unhealthy favorite foods, namely sweets and carbohydrates.
My overindulgence caught up with me last year, when I began to suffer with severe reflux. I had gained weight slowly over several years, even with a fairly robust exercise regimen that consisted of yoga, weightlifting and lap swimming 3 times a week. I reached a maximum weight of 170 pounds on my 5’6″ frame by the summer of 2013. My knees would give out during yoga poses, and climbing stairs was becoming more and more painful. My throat burned every time I did Downward Facing Dog, and my doctor was talking about surgery to fix my reflux problem. It was time to take the reins before my life spiraled out of control.
Health for the Gut = Health for the Whole Body
I can thank my primary doctor and a gastrointestinal surgeon for putting me on the right dietary track. A high-fiber diet was recommended to control the effects of a newly-diagnosed hiatal hernia. Then, my surgeon suggested that some reflux problems can be caused by gluten sensitivity. I put these two things together and began a slow series of dietary changes to improve my gut health.
First, I increased my fiber intake, and then I eliminated gluten. I managed to take in anywhere from 30 to 50 grams of fiber daily by including more legumes, green vegetables and fruits, both dried and fresh. I also eat a fair measure of meat, eggs and cheese, which helps me feel satiated. It isn’t as hard as it sounds to get enough fiber on a gluten-free diet. Another gut-friendly change I made was to alter my eating schedule to eat smaller, more frequent meals. Breakfast was larger, and dinner was modest and always before 7 p.m.
Lifestyle Alterations Lead to Slow Weight Loss and Enhanced Well-Being
It took me four months to lose 30 pounds. That’s just under two pounds per week. This is actually close to the recommended maximum safe rate of weight loss. I did not actually set out to become 30 pounds lighter. My goal was to get off the insanely high dose of Prilosec I was taking for GERD. I did not have to increase my exercise level at all to lose this weight. I still maintain my regular exercise regimen at the same level I did before changing my diet. It was the change in eating habits that made all the difference. A more recent addition to my regimen is a food diary, which allows me to keep track of my eating habits and address any bad trends before they become habits. This is especially important for the maintenance phase of any diet.
In my experience, the most effective diets are undertaken for the purpose of improving my well-being, rather than for mere improvement of appearance. As a result of my lifestyle change, my meals are more satisfying, and my knees don’t hurt during my workouts. It’s a welcome bonus that my bikini looks good on me now, and I can button my skinny jeans without a hint of muffin top. What more could I want?