Cooking with GERD

When I was 17, I was told I had Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – a fancy name for acid reflux. While this is quite a common problem for many, I have 60% acid reflux, so the majority of what I eat ‘refluxes’ – this can be food or drink. It’s taken me a long time to work out the foods that trigger this, with the worst culprits being onions, tomatoes, peppers, chilli, vinegar, some fruit, alcohol and high fat foods – basically anything highly acidic. And unfortunately, these ingredients feature a lot in most dishes.

I’ve always loved cooking but having GERD has forced me to find other ways to add flavour to meals and get creative. Occasionally I will cook with tomatoes, and luckily the consequences aren’t too bad. I do, however, completely avoid onions and the majority of the above (apart from alcohol… though I’ve worked out the drinks that are best/worst).

As you go through my recipes, you may notice some dishes where I substitute celery for onion – not the same taste but it adds a nice crunch. Others, I’ve added onions in just for the recipe (like my Three Bean Chilli) even though I wouldn’t eat them myself. I can also tell when a dish needs an acidic hit from something like lemon, vinegar or tomato, again I wouldn’t actually be able to eat this so usually serve it on the side for people to squeeze over. You may also notice that my salads rarely have a dressing. Personally I like them like this, they taste fresh and clean and I use a lot of chopped herbs to add flavour instead.

It’s not ideal, and in recipe creating I am always eating and tasting things I probably shouldn’t… but I just love food and cooking for others, so it’s a small price to pay sometimes.

When I go out to eat it can be tough sometimes but I always look at the menu first. The restaurants that go to the top of my list are usually those that are the most accommodating. (Some places struggle to just cut me fresh avocado for my brunch, rather than the pre-made one, which usually has lemon on it). But that said, commonly, I will just suffer with the consequences, dose up on tablets and down a litre of Gaviscon.

If you suffer with GERD, drop me a message, as I’d love to hear how you cope with it. And if you’d like to know more, just ask!

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