Acid Reflux? Dr. Koufman’s Top 10 Snacks
- If you have acid reflux, it’s not a bad idea to carry your own on-the-go snacks. This post is my personal list of favorites, and some may surprise you, all are gluten free (because I’m gluten-free).
- You want to get some calories, but your snacks should still be reflux-friendly, meaning that they should be low-acid and relatively low-fat with no known trigger foods.
Note: Respiratory Reflux (RR) and Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) are synonyms and the terms can be used interchangeably. Going forward, I prefer the term RR and so should you; it is easier to pronounce, more intuitive, more comprehensive, and implies that RR can affect any and all parts of the respiratory system, which it does.
If you have acid reflux, it’s not a bad idea to carry your own snacks even though you might be able to find suitable ones at a store or restaurant. Here are the snacks that I like, and go to the most in no particular order. That said, the seaweed from Korea, the Chinese ginger chews, and the rice bars may be new to you.
Although I rarely do so, next week’s post will be a recipe for one of my favorite dishes, a Seafood Bake. But the point of telling you that now, is that the seaweed snacks touted here are used like flat bread in Ethiopian food, to scoop up the seafood from a common dish, a spoonful at a time. You eat each mouthful of the seaweed bake wrapped in a seaweed snack.
Well, once I discovered these seaweed snacks, and they are marketed as snacks, I quickly became hooked. I love them and usually have two packs (about 10-12 leaves and 30 calories per pack). In the International/Asian aisle of my grocery there are two brands, gimme and Annie Chun’s. They are both “organic,” and I like the taste of Annie’s slightly better because they add rosemary; however, I buy gimme (from Korea) because Annie’s carries a warning that their product may contain lead. Meanwhile, gimme without a warning, while still considered best (safest), might contain trace cadmium. I eat gimme seaweed almost daily.
From the World Bank’s 2023 Global Report on Seaweed, “Seaweed farming can help support a world free of poverty on a livable planet. With its ability to sink carbon, sustain marine biodiversity, employ women, and unlock value chain; seaweed farming demonstrates how development, climate, and nature work together to generate value and uplift communities.”
Chewy Ginger Candy
Ginger is one of the for-sure, good-for-reflux foods. For centuries it has been used to help settle stomach problems. Meanwhile, I discovered this candy when I went for acupuncture 20 years ago. When I left I acupuncturist, my friend Ming, he always gave me one of those candies. I get Gin-Gins, but there’s not one brand that I recommend. I do think that it is important that each candy be individually wrapped; even so, they too are sometimes difficult to open because the candy can stick to the foil wrap. FYI, if you have bad teeth, don’t fall in love with these candies as they are capable of taking off a crown. Two pieces are 45 calories.
Rice Crispie Bars
I am a fan of rice and these bars are sweet, organic, nut-free, dairy-free, and gluten free. They also have cool ingredients including spinach, broccoli, tomato, beet, and shiitake mushroom extracts. A box of six is usually $3.99, which makes each bar $0.67; I usually eat two. Each bar is 80 calories.
Every grocery store and bodega has bags of popcorn. Of course guaranteed options include cheese, butter, caramel, and combinations of whatever. In this case you should always get the cleanest; that’s organic with no topping, except sometimes caramel as a special treat. And I personally like to see GF (gluten-free) somewhere on the packaging. What you want is basically popcorn, maybe some oil, and salt. Corn is the number one cash crop in the U.S – 15 billion bushels annually, mostly for animal feed, fuel ethanol, and sweeteners. Where do you suppose high fructose corn syrup comes from?
The banana is the most consumed and enjoyed on-the-go snack in America and especially for people with reflux. A banana will fit in your bag, back pack, etc. I have a post, The Ubiquitous Banana: Is It Good or Bad for Reflux? And by the way, bananas don’t grow on trees, but are plants officially classified as an herbs and in the same family as lilies, orchids, and palms. And the banana is actually classified as a berry.
I love avocados enough take them with me going out for the day. With a pocket knife, you can split the avocado, remove the pit, and get the meat out. Avocados are a superfood, and a medium-size avocado contains about 240 calories (13 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams protein, 22 grams fat, mostly very good fat, and 10 grams fiber). FYI, you can use the avocado pit to grow an avocado plant in your home.
Edamame are young soybeans harvested before they ripen. They are a common appetizer in Japanese restaurants usually served steamed and salted. If you have them at home, you can take the left-overs in a baggie for an on-the-go snack … which I do and I add salt. Besides for our consumption, soybeans are used for animal feed, ink, plastics, wood adhesives, and textiles.
Whole carrots or carrot sticks are a great snack, as are other vegetables like string beans, zucchini, broccoli, and sweet potato, all great for the refluxer. You can prepare sticks at home in bulk and leave in the refrigerator for up to a week, taking some with you in a baggie for a snack. Carrots are the second most popular vegetable in the world, after potatoes. But not for rabbits as suggested in cartoons; rabbits don’t like root veggies like carrots.
Surprisingly, almost all of the world’s supply of almonds comes from California. Almonds are the most reflux-friendly nut; they contain good fat, are calorie-dense, and one ounce provides about 165 calories. And almonds are also high in antioxidants, vitamin E, and fiber. Almonds have been linked to several health benefits. And because of its high pH, almond milk is also great for refluxers.
Many of the seeds popular today are fine for reflux, but none more so than the sunflower seed. They travel well and the only potential downside is what to do with husks? They are high in protein and vitamin E and are believed to help fight inflammation. And not just humans like sunflower seeds; they are a favorite food for songbirds like the Northern Cardinal. BTW, chia seeds are okay, too.
For more information about diagnosis and treatment, see my books on Amazon: Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure and Dr. Koufman’s Acid Reflux Diet. And if you would like to schedule a virtual consultation with me, you can book online.