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Opera Singer, Struggling W/ Acid Reflux

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Hey, y'all. I've been reading this forum for about a month, and I thought this might be a good place to vent / ask for some suggestions.

So I was diagnosed with Celiac about six months ago. My mom was diagnosed with the same about two years ago before me, but I was really hoping I wouldn't have the same thing... lucky me! Since then, it's been, well, up and down. I've made some really stupid, stupid mistakes that could have been easily avoided, and I'm still struggling with it.

Last semester, after I was diagnosed in the summer (I'm a college student) I was eating at qdoba pretty often and I would always get a bowl with chicken in it, something I thought would be safe. I was still feeling pretty bad, so I looked up allergen information on their website... and the chicken has gluten and dairy in it. :| Of course, I immediately stopped eating that, but the reflux didn't get that much better. Over this winter break, my mom & I went on a pretty restrictive fruit, veggie, chicken, lentil & rice diet, and that helped temporarily, until I got back to school and I didn't have as much time to prepare meals and think about food.

Then stupid mistake #2 happened just recently. I was making myself fruit shakes in the morning, and my boyfrend had some much better tasting protein powder than the stuff I was using, so I started trying it. This past week my reflux has been TERRIBLE, and so I look at it... and right on the front it says "whey" in big letters. I can't tell you how dumb I felt seeing that, knowing that I had been voluntarily ingesting something my body cannot tolerate every day for a week.

I'm fine with avoiding the obvious things like sandwiches, cheese, etc. for the rest of my life, it's just all the other little sneaky ways that gluten & dairy creep into my diet. It's so frustrating!! I'm honestly doing the best I can, but it doesn't seem to be good enough for my body to heal.

To cope with the reflux, I've been taking ranitidine 2x a day. It makes me anxious to do so, because I feel like I'm just treating the symptoms and not the actual cause, plus there are supposed to be some pretty bad side effects from taking them long-term. I just want to be healthy again.

The other thing is that I'm studying vocal performance (opera) at school right now. No lie, I need to be in semi-good voice for coachings, opera rehearsals, voice lessons, classes, etc. almost every single day. I can't do that if my stomach is bloated and cramped and I can't get in a good breath, and I can't do that if my reflux is constantly flaring up horribly. This means that I don't have any patience for trying different diets for healing my gut because I can't afford the symptoms for even a day or two, so I just go ahead and medicate w/ ranitidine because it works temporarily.

I just feel a little defeated right now. How long does it take to heal from this? Will my body ever feel as strong and capable as it did before I was diagnosed?

Thank you for your time.

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Over this winter break, my mom & I went on a pretty restrictive fruit, veggie, chicken, lentil & rice diet, and that helped temporarily, until I got back to school and I didn't have as much time to prepare meals and think about food.

Can you go back to this for a bit? Since time is an issue for you maybe spend some time on the weekends doing as much prep for the week as you can. Cook up a large quantity of meat and then package in meal size portions for the rest of the week. It takes just a little more time to make a big batch of something as it does to do a one meal size one. Things like stews, soups and pasta sauces can be placed in the freezer or fridge in meal size portions to make a quick meal.

For example I will sometimes make a pasta sauce with just mushrooms and veggies in a large quantity and then the next day I add some ground beef. The next I use it to top a Kinnickinnick pizza crust. A day later I do a quick layer of gluten-free lasgna noodles and cheese and add some water so I don't have to precook the noodles. Another day I will take it and add green beans and cinnamon to make a Middle Eastern style stew and so on.

A rice cooker can be very helpful. The rice cooks in the bottom and most have a steamer you can put your veggies in to cook while the rice cooks. You can then sit down and study or do whatever until you hear the ding. When my budget permits I like to add a few frozen or fresh shrimp right before the rice is done. Rice can also be cooked in large batches and then reheated.

It can be tough when we have little time or energy, believe me I know that. We do sometimes have other intolerances that can rear their ugly little heads. Soy is a top offender for many including myself. It causes me intense stomach pain. You may want to avoid it for a bit and see if that helps also.

I do hope your feeling better soon.

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The only way to really get at the heart of problem of reflux is to cut out all processed foods. You should be eating meat/fish, fruits, vegetables, and pure non gluten grains like rice, but not commercial instant rice because you can see on the label they add stuff to that. Eat what your cavemen ancestors would eat, but you can also imagine they had rice and corn. They did not have corn syrup, maltodextrin, baking soda, various things derived from soy. they did not have juice from concentrate. Specialized gluten free foods like glutino or whatever won't be helpful because they include a lot of processed ingredients always. Raw foods and snacks are usually okay. I wouldn't eat out for awhile.

The medicine does indeed just treat symptoms and the above should help you get at the cause however you will likely still need medicine as well though maybe not as much. You should see lots of improvement on a caveman-like diet like the above though. Its a difficult diet from what you grew up with but if you are sick enough now then once you feel a little better you won't want to go back and it will be worth it.

The best way I can explain it is that your stomach did evolve to reasonably deal with processed foods to the same extent as everybody else (even though everybody else takes reflux medicine nowadays too / hmm wonder why?) however your stomach has now been set back from celiac and you have to just give it the basic foods it was intended to handle before the processed world came along. That should restore some balance.

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I don't know what your weight issues are... but I was on Protonix for a few years for reflux disease. It got so bad that I was about to go to my doctor and ask for Nexium when I decided that I might take it into my own hands. I lost 20 lbs (mostly cutting out the carbs I'm so addicted to) and ... VOILA... my heartburn vanished.

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There's lots of good advice on here already. I'm a singer, as well, and acid reflux is one of my big symptoms. I know it's horrible - it feels like my vocal chords are on fire, and it is difficult to support my sound when I'm feeling really bloated.

My reflux went away shortly after going gluten free, but it's also one of the main signs that I've been glutened. I eat very little processed foods, and there is less of a chance for hidden gluten to get into my system. Lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, yogurt, gluten-free grains, fish and chicken. I always take a few extra minutes in the morning to get my food ready for the day, and it is well worth the small amount of extra time to prepare safe food. Trust me - from one singer to another - your voice will thank you for it.

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Hope you feel better soon!

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Can you go back to this for a bit? Since time is an issue for you maybe spend some time on the weekends doing as much prep for the week as you can.

Yeah, that's actually a really good idea! I don't know why the idea of going back to the diet that actually made me feel better seemed so difficult earlier today. I think I just get super defeatist and worry that no matter what I do it won't help so I might as well not bother, but it doesn't hurt to try. Cooking things in bulk would make my week easier, you're right, especially when I only have a 45-minute break for lunch in-between classes. Thank you.

The only way to really get at the heart of problem of reflux is to cut out all processed foods. You should be eating meat/fish, fruits, vegetables, and pure non gluten grains like rice, but not commercial instant rice because you can see on the label they add stuff to that. Eat what your cavemen ancestors would eat, but you can also imagine they had rice and corn. They did not have corn syrup, maltodextrin, baking soda, various things derived from soy.

First of all, THANK YOU SO MUCH! This sounds like a really good idea, and I saw some improvement on a similar diet earlier. I just have a couple questions:

1. Are various types spices okay? I think they make eating things far more bearable, particularly meats & fish. Similarly, are things like olive oil and vinegar alright if you buy them and mix them yourself? Honestly, I can't see a caveman making himself a salad with a vinegarette, haha, but I'm just not sure.

2. Does the manner in which the food is prepared particularly matter? I've heard some stuff about raw vegetables being supposedly better for you, but I can't make heads or tails about whether or not that is accurate.

3. Is there any sort of general timeline for when people start to feel better, or how long I should stay on this diet? Part of my personal failing with this whole process is feeling better and then immediately going back to eating the things I ate before because I thought I was 'healed' enough at that point. I guess maybe I just need to come to terms with the idea of not being able to go back to the way I ate before, even with the gluten-free substitutes. :/

I don't know what your weight issues are... but I was on Protonix for a few years for reflux disease. It got so bad that I was about to go to my doctor and ask for Nexium when I decided that I might take it into my own hands. I lost 20 lbs (mostly cutting out the carbs I'm so addicted to) and ... VOILA... my heartburn vanished.

I'm actually at a pretty decent weight for my height - so far I've lost 15 pounds just from going gluten-free and it doesn't seem to help that much. (Although I'm still 5 pounds from my goal weight - maybe those few extra pounds will make the difference! :))

There's lots of good advice on here already. I'm a singer, as well, and acid reflux is one of my big symptoms. I know it's horrible - it feels like my vocal chords are on fire, and it is difficult to support my sound when I'm feeling really bloated.My reflux went away shortly after going gluten free, but it's also one of the main signs that I've been glutened. I eat very little processed foods, and there is less of a chance for hidden gluten to get into my system. Lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, yogurt, gluten-free grains, fish and chicken. I always take a few extra minutes in the morning to get my food ready for the day, and it is well worth the small amount of extra time to prepare safe food. Trust me - from one singer to another - your voice will thank you for it.

Thank you very much for the advice - I'm so glad I'm not alone in being a singer dealing with this issue! It just makes me feel so anxious and panicky. Every separate incidence of reflux I have I just worry compulsively about there being some kind of permanent damage, let alone the side-effects the next day. My first voice teacher developed nodules from chronic reflux, was operated on and now has no singing voice at all D: You're right, I just need to be more vigilant in holding myself accountable for what I eat. It'll get better if I am, right?

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Oh! And one more question. To what degree should things like probiotics and digestive enzymes be involved in this process? Do they help speed the process? Is it possible or advisable to try to recover without them? Again, I've found a lot of conflicting information out there, which is just incredibly confusing & overwhelming. Thank you all so much for your help and sympathy! So appreciated!

ETA: And another question. Should I continue just taking the ranitidine as needed to manage the reflux, and just trust my body to tell me when I can start to back off of it? I really despise taking it - without getting tmi, it doesn't do anything for my actual digestion, but I'd rather take it than constantly freak out about the reflux.

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First of all, THANK YOU SO MUCH! This sounds like a really good idea, and I saw some improvement on a similar diet earlier. I just have a couple questions:

1. Are various types spices okay? I think they make eating things far more bearable, particularly meats & fish. Similarly, are things like olive oil and vinegar alright if you buy them and mix them yourself? Honestly, I can't see a caveman making himself a salad with a vinegarette, haha, but I'm just not sure.

2. Does the manner in which the food is prepared particularly matter? I've heard some stuff about raw vegetables being supposedly better for you, but I can't make heads or tails about whether or not that is accurate.

3. Is there any sort of general timeline for when people start to feel better, or how long I should stay on this diet? Part of my personal failing with this whole process is feeling better and then immediately going back to eating the things I ate before because I thought I was 'healed' enough at that point. I guess maybe I just need to come to terms with the idea of not being able to go back to the way I ate before, even with the gluten-free substitutes. :/

1. I'm going to say that initially you should go cold turkey, no extras, no spices, no oils, no vinegars. If you are worried about things being more palatable, believe me, once you limit your diet to the basics you will be hungry and a dry piece of steak will be quite appetizing and much more fulfilling than you ever imagined. Once you reach a baseline in terms of how you feel add things back in one by one and see how they work. Don't add spices, oil, and vinegar all on the same day because if you get sick you won't know what caused it.

2. No. I tend to grill everything. The only things I eat raw are the kind of raw foodist packaged snacks you find at the store. As for whole raw vegetables I actually find that I digest them better when cooked. I also eat microwaved frozen vegetables plain. Eating a lot of raw stuff will increase bowel movements (I think that is the whole point of raw diets for people as a fad mostly, to lose weight) and that's not the point here.

3. I think this diet works fairly rapidly. In my experience going gluten free got rid of a lot of problems I had but reflux continued forever and ever until I stumbled upon this. I think I rapidly improved.

This just becomes a matter of willpower, and a question of do you want to get better and stay better, assuming it works. It isn't the easiest diet, but there are many people in the world with worse health conditions that they cannot do anything about. Yours is potentially greatly within your control, and you'll eat healthier to boot. I don't know how old you are but I realized I needed to get this under control before I hit a certain age because as you age the body has less ability to recover from these things in my opinion.

Oh and p.s., try to drink just water.

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I had a terrible time with acid, doc put me on Nexium 2x daily and I did Pepto shots in between. Take a look at a low acidic diet.....no citrus, caffeine, alcohol, avoid veggies such as tomatoes, and no dairy or spice. Keep doing this until the body has a chance to mend itself.

I found relief from boiling a chicken and cooking rice or potatoes in the broth. I feel the chicken broth really helped me in many ways to heal.

I had to do this for 5 months but am no longer on antacids. I do protect my stomach if I have a glass of wine. I can eat spice now. I am still avoiding citrus but that is mostly for bone growth.

I am a music teacher, have given voice lessons. My suggestion besides what I have mentioned above is that you ahve to protect the flexability of your vocal chords. Drink hot tea, decaf, and start taking magnesium if you are not currently. Magnium and potassium play a big role in the flexing/relaxing ability with our muscles. Replace your citrus with bananas and I think you will slowly see a difference. It takes time and dedication.

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If you are worrying about spices, you can buy them fresh and wash them. That's what I did. You will be surprised about how good natural ingredients can taste once you get the processed food out of your system.

I get reflux pretty easily too, though I'm not a singer. You just need to stick to the diet that you know works till you are better.

At that point you could try adding new things. I would keep a food journal and only add one new thing a week. That way it is easier to know what is bothering you.

Fresh fruit works pretty well for a quick snack. I usually only eat cooked food in the evenings.

If you are eating meat, you can save the fat to cook with, or cook your veggies in with the meat. I like things roasted.

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Keep taking the medicines your doctor prescribes. Don't worry about probiotics until you have the blandest diet in town down pat.

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