Q: My daughter, an 8th grader and avid runner, has a problem with acid reflux. We have experimented with her diet trying to find the right thing to eat and the right time to eat. She used to have great success with chicken and rice 3-4 hours before a race, but that doesn't work anymore. There must be foods to remedy this problem; any suggestions?
A: Frequent acid reflux is often a symptom of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD. With GERD, stomach content flows backward into the esophagus which causes symptoms such as heartburn, pain that feels like an ulcer, difficulty swallowing and regurgitating stomach acid.
The standard practice of treatment for GERD is to eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day, avoiding high fat foods and foods with a high acid content, limiting caffeinated and alcoholic beverages,weight loss, waiting 2-3 hours before lying down and elevating the head six to eight inches while sleeping.
Unfortunately, when it comes to what to eat, there is not one go-to food that is sure to prevent relfux. What works for some may not give your daughter the same success, so this is a trial and error process to see what works and what does not. In the case of your daughter, it is really important to figure out a remedy sooner rather than later, because the uncomfortable symptoms of reflux could prevent her from eating enough energy that is needed not only to fuel her running, but also for proper growth and maturation.
Foods that are good to eat before a run and for those experiencing pain of acid reflux are:
- Bananas and other less acidic fruits
- Poultry without the skin (try turkey boiled, baked or grilled)
- Grains such as brown rice, couscous and bulgur
- Eggs (hard boiled, scrambled or poached)
- Potatoes (boiled or baked)
- Green and root vegetables,when appropriate (after a run)
It is helpful to keep a record of when and what foods were eaten when flare-ups occur so that you can really pinpoint causes of distress and avoid them especially during crucial times such as before a race. Make sure that she has enough time to eat her meals slowly without having to rush to aid proper digestion.
Acid reflux is no fun,
especially when you have to run.
Be careful when and what you eat,
avoid acidic foods and fatty meat.
Eat small meals and at a reasonable pace,
and you will be ready to run your race.