Eating Poor Quality Food, Late Night Eating and Reflux

NY Times piece from last Sunday entitled The Dangers of Eating Late at Night shed light on how, in addition to America’s “poor diet, with its huge increases in the consumption of sugar, soft drinks, fat and processed foods”, another critical variable that is often overlooked with the correlation between these behaviors and the development of acid-reflux is the time at which this (non) foods are consumed.

If I were to write that many of my clients tend to not eat enough during the earlier part of the day, for various reasons ranging from ‘saving calories for later’ to ‘not having time to eat’ to ‘not eating because they woke up still full from last night’s dinner’, it would be an understatement.

It’s no one’s fault; there’s simply a plethora of bad information online, on TV and certainly behind the numerous brands peddling their proprietary bars, shakes and packaged items, all of which do a lot for any particular brand’s financial growth but nothing for the health of our society.

In fact, one might even say these ‘foods’ in general make our health worse.

With the best of intentions, if someone’s day of eating consists of not consuming enough balanced calories from real food, leading to a 4pm blood sugar crash which feels so insatiable at that moment that anything edible in a small surrounding radius is fair game, it will all too often end in disaster.

Blood sugar crash, eat sugar, insulin response, another crash, more sugar and repeat, leading up until far too close to bedtime.

This isn’t an uncommon pattern, unfortunately.

Jamie Kaufman, who wrote the article in the Times, shared a similar sentiment:

For my patients, eating late is often accompanied by overeating, because many skip breakfast and eat only a sandwich at lunch. Thus the evening meal becomes the largest meal of the day. After that heavy meal, it’s off to the sofa to watch television. After eating, it’s important to stay upright because gravity helps keep the contents in the stomach. Reflux is the result of acid spilling out of the stomach, and lying down with a full stomach makes reflux much more likely.”

I worked with a client a few years back who happened to be pulmonary specialist.  He put it very succinctly when he said that in his findings, acid reflux seemed to result most often from ‘stuffing too much food in when there was no more room and the food then has no where else to go than back up from where it was inserted’!

So what’s the answer?

Once again, we need to look at what we are eating and when and why.

If we eat real food, from natural sources at regular intervals, the chances of developing acid reflux are simply a lot less likely than if we follow the typical Standard American Diet model, or worse, a skewed version of what healthy eating is.

Whether based on a focus to ‘lose weight fast’ or the idea that there’s a magic bullet out there somewhere to get us quickly to an unrealistic weight or level of health in a very short period of time, despite the fact that it may have taken years to reach the current situation, any other approach is simply not sound or logical.

If you’re already being treated with medication for reflux, still take a look at what you’re eating and check in with your doctor about it.  If your doctor suggests that your diet won’t affect your ‘condition’, well, it may be time to look for a new one, perhaps a functional medicine doctor that will look at the big picture, of which food must be part of the foundation.

Why settle?

Wouldn’t it be better to address the cause, erase the symptoms and reach a point where the meds are no longer needed?

It’s not impossible!

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