Diet & Lifestyle
January 1, 2024

Dr. Koufman’s Reflux-Friendly Weight-Loss Program

Diet & Lifestyle

At-A-Glance

  • A New Year is coming. Forget fad diets as many aren’t healthy and make your reflux worse. Instead, do Dr. Koufman’s easy, low-sugar, low-fat diet to reduce calories and lose weight … and it’s safe for acid reflux.
  • Some of the seven suggestions should be obvious: no fried food, no late night eating,  no soft drinks.
  • You can start Dr. Koufman’s diet doing  all seven steps at once, or you can introduce them sequentially over two weeks. Also, in this post, you can calculate your BMI; are you normal, overweight, or obese?

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, and it implies that RR can affect any and all parts of the respiratory system, which it does.

There is some commonality between the Reflux Detox Diet and this weight loss program … which is intended to dramatically decrease sugar and fat while maintaining a low-acid diet. For example, you’ll need to avoid sugary beverages, eat less bread, snacks, and avoid the most common reflux-trigger foods. 

The principles of this diet are solidly based in science, and the principles don’t change over time. This seven-step weight loss diet includes significant lifestyle changes such as not eating dinner close to bedtime.

So do you need this diet? Here is a simple Body Mass Index, BMI calculator and the BMI categories: Underweight <18.5, Normal weight 18.5–24.9, Overweight 25–29.9, and Obesity 30 or more. If your BMI is 25 or more, you do need this diet.

Dr. Koufman’s Seven-Step Dietary Program For Weight Loss

1. No Eating After 8:00 p.m.: For most people, assuming that 11:00 is bedtime, no eating after 8:00 will do the trick. But, if you go to bed earlier, then you should eat your dinner earlier as well. There are reasons for this: first, calories consumed in the evening lead to more weight gain than calories consumed earlier in the day; and second from a reflux point of view, you should try to go to bed with an empty stomach which takes a minimum of 3-4 hours.

2. Avoid Alcohol : Alcoholic beverages, especially wine and many mixed drinks are loaded with sugar. If you drink two glasses of wine a day, that’s about 400 calories  extra. The best choice if you are going to drink alcohol is a gluten-free vodka on the rocks with a splash … and just one. Besides for you, maybe it should be Dry January.

3. Avoid Sugary Soft Drinks and Other High-Sugar Beverages: A regular 16-oz. Coca Cola has almost 200 calories but not as much as popular Starbucks specialty drinks that can contain 240-320 calories for just one. Drink Water! Almost everything else is either high-calorie or bad for reflux. Personally, I recommend alkaline water pH 9.5 … but not Essentia (phosphates). It is also important to hydrate starting in the morning. I always tell my singers, “Pee pale.” 

4. Eat Three Meals A Day: Try to eat at least 3 meals a day; this is really a strong recommendation for weight loss; and never skip breakfast … and stay away from fast food for lunch (or dinner). I’ve done a recent post on breakfasts that are suitable for weight loss and for fighting reflux, too. 

5. Consume Only One Serving Of Bread A Day: Unfortunately, most Americans eat bread with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and for snacks, e.g., cake, cookies. You may not know this, but bread is mostly sugar; get Wheat Belly for an informative read. Limit yourself to one portion of bread a day and that includes desserts and snacks.

6. Substitute Fruit For Candy: Long ago when I was a sugar addict, I decided to start having figs and dates for dessert as they contain a lot of sugar (instead of candy). Then, over time, I began to limit the number of dates and figs to a maximum of three dates or six figs. Eventually, I switched over to red apples; Fuji is sweet and my favorite. Today, it tastes as sweet as candy used to.

7. Avoid Common Reflux Trigger Foods

Nicotine (Avoid all tobacco products including vaping)

Coffee/caffeine (This should be limited to 1-2 cups per day; but even decaf coffee is a trigger for some people 

Fat (high-fat foods, especially fatty meats and fried food)

Chocolate (Theobromine, chemical found in chocolate relaxes the LES)

Mint (esp. peppermint and spearmint)

Pepper/peppers including pepper spices and bell peppers. 

All Or Nothing and For How Long?

This diet does not necessarily have to be an all-or-nothing program. That said, you should always try to avoid fried and fast food, as well as high-sugar foods, e.g., cookies, candy. In addition, over the long haul, you should stay away from highly-acidic foods, e.g., lemon, other citrus, and soft drinks. all of which are acidified by law. 

People sometimes ask how long is this diet for? A week, a month, a year? I believe some elements of this diet should be carried forward forever, especially no soft drinks. “Dropping Acid,” including Seltzer, as these are just too acidic; see What’s Best to Drink If I Have Acid Reflux. It’s up to you; pick your poison.

For more information about diagnosis and treatment of reflux laryngitis, see my two companion books on Amazon: Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure

And, if you would like to schedule a 30-minute, virtual consultation with me, you can book online.

Books by Dr. Koufman

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