Weight Loss and Heartburn

Losing weight can help acid reflux and heartburn

Why is there an article about weight loss in a section about acid reflux disease?

Your weight may be normal and you still suffer from heartburn, but quite a number of heartburn sufferers are overweight. This is particularly the case if you are prone to store excess weight around the abdomen. This is because extra pounds stored around the abdominal area add to the pressure on the stomach causing the stomach acid to reflux up into the oesophagus. So losing weight is always a good idea if you happen to be overweight and suffer from acid reflux.

Losing weight is difficult and I do not believe in fad diets. Except the new 5:2 Fast Diet which is based around fasting on 2 days a week and seems to be effective and also has significant health benefits. 

However weight loss need not involve fad diets or unusual eating patterns. A sensible balanced diet which is based on moderate quantities of food that are low in fat will help most people to lose weight safely. The person who loses weight and maintains this weight loss is one who establishes a healthy eating and exercise pattern that will last for a lifetime. This ensures that the weight loss is permanent. Energy is measured in calories, and the aim of a weight loss diet is to bring about loss of weight by reducing your calorie intake from food and drink, and increasing your calorie output by exercising. This ensures that the body uses up more energy than it takes in. In this way, the stores of fat tissue in the body are gradually used up and reduced.

Calorie intake can be reduced in many ways, but not all weight loss plans are scientifically based, and some slimming plans can actually be quite dangerous. Weight loss plans that are faddy neither encourage healthy eating habits nor establish permanent and safe weight loss. For example food combining diets, based on the Hay Diet, do help weight loss but this is only because of the increased intake of fruit and vegetables at the expense of more high calorie foods. In addition the food combinations tend to be limited. Magic potions that claim to help you lose weight while you continue to eat normal meals do not work. Weight can only be lost by reducing your calorie intake or increasing the amount of energy your body uses by exercising more.

Crash diets often include low calorie meal replacement drinks, snack bars and and soups. This sort of crash diet is unable to provide the same balance of nutrients as ordinary varied healthy food. The success of any crash diet tends to be short lived because water and protein are lost from the body, rather than excess body fat. Once a person begins eating normally again, the body fluids are rapidly replaced and there is an immediate increase in weight. Losing weight then becomes more difficult the next time around. This is known as the yo-yo effect. Those slimmers who have a cycle of yo-yo dieting then tend to put on more weight every time they eat normally. Dieticians now think that this is probably due to a repeated cycle of calorie deprivation and bingeing, rather than a drop in the metabolic rate of the dieter.

The practice of prolonged fasting, when a person stops eating food and drinks and increase quantity of water, can be a dangerous. It can lead to low blood pressure and heart failure. Even when medically supervised it is very unusual for weight loss to be sustained once normal eating resumes again. 

A healthy slimming diet must include all the nutrients that the body requires. Because these nutrients have to come from a lower calorie intake, it is important to cut right down on low nutrient food such as cakes and biscuits confectionery and sugary and alcoholic drinks. These foods are fairly high in calories but are low in nutrients. The diet should be based on nutritious low-calorie foods such as vegetables, fruit, lean meat, fish, poultry, low-fat dairy products, cereals and bread.

Different components of food contain different numbers of calories. For example fat is the most concentrated source of energy. Fat contains 9 calories per gram. Protein and carbohydrate only contain 4 calories per gram.Reducing the quantity of fat in your diet is the most effective way to reduce calorie intake. Pure alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, so cutting down on alcohol is an effective way to help weight loss.

It is a misconception that staple starchy foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta and bread are fattening. Rather than being high calorie foods these are in fact medium calorie foods. Provided that they are not consumed with a lot of fat, these starchy foods can be eaten in quite large amounts when on a weight loss diet. These starchy foods also helped to satisfy your appetite because they tend to be filling rather than fattening. It is preferable to eat wholegrain foods such as wholemeal bread and brown rice, rather than refined foods such as white bread. This is because wholegrain foods provide more vitamins minerals and fibre. In addition wholegrain foods have a lower glycaemic index and the sugar from these foods is released into the body more slowly.

A healthy slimming diet should also include plenty of vegetables salads and pulses such as beans peas and lentils. Fresh fruit makes an excellent choice as a low calorie dessert.

Other other weight loss tips

In order to help reduce your fat intake, try to choose lean cuts of meat and trim off all visible fat prior to cooking. Avoid high fat meats such as beef, sausages, and bacon. It is best to eat poultry without the skin and fish should be steamed, grilled, baked or microwaved rather than fried. Savoury pies and pastries, biscuits and cakes crisps and nuts are all high in fat and calories. These foods are best avoided when on a weight loss diet. It is advisable to replace full fat dairy products with low-fat alternatives.

When you first start a weight loss diet is normal to lose about 1 kg or more during the first week due to an initial loss of water from the body. In the following weeks it is best to aim for a steady weight loss of about 500 g a week. This will result in a gradual reduction in body fat. With regard to exercise it is best to increase your calorie expenditure by exercising at least 20 min three times a week. This is the minimum amount of exercise and clearly more exercise is better. In addition to calorie burning exercise it helps to tone up and increase muscle bulk because muscle burns more calories than fat.

Balancing your slimming diet

When you are dieting to lose weight, it is important to make sure that the foods that you eat are nourishing. If you eat a wide variety of foods from the food groups below, you should be able to obtain optimum levels of each of the nutrients that are required for good health.

Starchy foods

Rice, bread, cereals, pasta and potatoes and other starches are the staple foods in our diet; everything else revolves around them. Contrary to popular belief, starchy foods are not fattening. Rice, breads, cereals, pasta and potatoes contain no more calories per gram than lean meat and far less than fats. Tips when eating starchy foods: choose speciality breads that taste good on their own without fattening spreads. Serve rice and pasta with tomato-based vegetable sources, avoiding any sources that are made with cream, cheese, butter or lots of oil. If you are following a GERD diet that you may need to be careful with tomato-based vegetable sources.

Fruit, vegetables and salad

In your diet include a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and salad leaves. If you are on a GERD diet then you will need to be careful with citrus fruits such as oranges,grapefruit, limes and lemons. Tips when eating fruit, vegetables and salads: try to go easy on dried fruit and avocados. This is because dried fruit is high in sugar and avocados are high in fat. Avoid fattening salad dressings such as mayonnaise. It is preferable to make your own salad dressings based on lemon, lime juice and low-fat yoghurt. You will need to be cautious with this sort of salad dressing if you are following an acid reflux diet. Avoid fried potatoes, such as chips and avoid potatoes which are baked with a cheese sauce.

Milk, cheese and yoghurt

Try to eat moderate amounts of low fat dairy products. Tips when choosing dairy products: it is preferable to choose skimmed or semiskimmed milk, low-fat yoghurt and low fat cheeses such as cottage cheese, fromage frais and ricotta cheese. Avoid milkshakes that are made with whole milk.


Choose lean meat (such as game) with all visible fat trimmed off, poultry (chicken, turkey) with the skin removed, fish and pulses (lentils, split peas and dried beans). Tips when choosing protein meals: remember to steam, grill, bake or poach meats and fish – but do not fry, particularly deep frying. Try to eat nuts, nut butters and seeds in moderation. Avoid high fat meat products such as pies, pasties, sausages and beefburgers. White fish such as haddock, cod, Alaskan pollock and hake is less fattening than oily fish such as mackerel, tuna or salmon. Avoid fish that is canned in oil, or drain of the oil extremely well.

Fatty and sugary foods

Remember to use low-fat spreads.. Use oil – even olive oil – sparingly. The occasional (once or twice a week) sugary treat will do no harm, as sugar eaten occasionally will not lead to obesity. Cutting down on fat is the most effective approach to losing weight when you are dieting. Tips when choosing fatty and sugary foods: avoid all biscuits, cakes, crisps and pies because they contain a lot of hidden fat, which is high in calories and easily consumed.