The Acid Watcher Diet… For Self Care

The last time I dieted was September 2016.  I did the THM diet for 3 months (well, off and on, and while still drinking).

I went to rehab in October of that year.  After I got out of rehab, I found a group called Healthy Habits Happy Moms.  I worked with an anti-diet dietitian in the spring of 2017.  I joined Balance 365 in June of 2017.

I have spent the past several years focusing on gaining a better relationship with food, with my body (and with myself in general), and have been working on building healthy habits super slowly.  My biggest habit focus has been staying sober. Luckily I am over 2 1/2 years sober now.  I also worked really hard to maintain my weight and eating till comfortable: not over-eating and not under-eating.

In April I decided that I needed to stop eating things that made my reflux worse (just using the simple list given me by my doctor), and to start focusing on weight loss again (for my reflux).  I started running again with my friend.  I was eating less fat because of my reflux and because I felt that would help with weight loss.  I was consistently eating balanced meals.  I had very little caffeine, soda (cut these out mostly), less things like tomatoes, citrus, etc.  Unfortunately, my reflux got so much WORSE instead of better.  I was so so confused by this.  Now I’m thinking that it was a combo of a lot of things, but I think the running made it worse!

A new Balance 365 friend told me about a book called The Acid Watcher Diet.  I decided to go ahead and buy it, and I read a bunch of it on our trip. There are two phases to the diet.  The first phase is 28 days and it is super strict to heal your body.  The second phase is the maintenance phase and this is a minimum of 2 weeks.  Some people choose to stay in this phase, and lots of people decide to add in foods one at a time to see what their body does.

I will be seeing a GI doc on the 11th, and I’m going to talk to him about it and see what he thinks.

I joined an Acid Watcher group on FB, and I was super discouraged by it.  The ladies were super cold and restrictive and made this seem impossible.  They added a bunch more rules and would coldly tell me and others when things were “allowed” or “approved.”  I don’t play that game anymore.  I will do my best to follow the diet (if my doc even thinks it’s necessary), and I won’t allow other people to tell me what I can or can’t eat.  It made me so mad.

Also the book is full of good/bad food talk, fat shaming, talking down about people, and other things that I threw out with-in the past few years, so I’m struggling with it a bit.  Like I said, I’m going to ask my GI on Tuesday if he thinks being this restrictive is necessary.  But I think it really will help so much of it makes sense.

With this program, you eat foods that are pH 5 and up, and I was happy to see that a lot of the ingredients that we can eat during the healing phase are things that I already buy/eat.  If I decide to do the diet, I will have to slowly stock back up on some things.  In the meantime, I’m going to just keep doing what I’m doing until I know more.

Some of the foods that I need to avoid (these are on EVERY single list out there for reflux):

  • Carbonated beverages (gosh I miss soda, but this makes me feel sooooo much worse)
  • Coffee and tea (he says to wean off of coffee slowly and some herbal teas are okay)
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomato
  • Vinegar (I will miss most dressings)
  • Wine (that’s easy for me since I don’t drink anymore)
  • Caffeine (again, wean off)
  • Chocolate (I bought some carob powder… we’ll see how it goes)
  • Alcohol (again, not a problem)
  • Mint (no more of my spearmint loose leaf tea… I have a full pound)
  • Raw onion
  • Raw garlic

He also says to:

  • Drop processed foods.  Apparently the majority of processed foods have dietary acid to preserve them.  This was so surprising to me!
  • No fried foods.  This is pretty self explanatory.  The only hard thing here is ChickFilA and the chicken tenders at camp.  I can do it!
  • Don’t eat after about 7:30 to allow my body to digest before I lay down.  This is hard for me mainly because I find that I get hungry at night, but I’m learning to just get over it.
  • He says to eat 3 regular meals and 2 mini-meals (snacks)

List of foods that have a pH of 5-9 (that I will actually eat), during the Healing Phase 

Veggies, Fruits, and Herbs

  • English and garden cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Cauliflower
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Asparagus
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Arugala
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Orange bell pepper
  • Cremini mushrooms
  • Potatoes (redskin, russet, or Yukon Gold
  • Sweet potato
  • Ginger
  • Beets (raw and cooked)
  • Carrots (raw and cooked)
  • Avocado
  • Black olives
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Butternut squash
  • Banana
  • Papaya
  • Dates (malawi and delilah)
  • Turkish apricot
  • Dragon fruit
  • Honey dew
  • Pumpkin (YES)
  • Bosc pear

Dairy Products

  • Butter (they say to have just a dab)
  • Parmesan
  • Asiago
  • Mozzarella
  • Cheddar
  • Feta (only a little and with certain foods)


  • Egg white
  • Eggs (whole)
  • Boiled eggs

Dairy Alternatives

  • Almond milk (vanilla and original)
  • Soy milk (organic)
  • Rice milk (plain, organic)

Tree Nuts

  • Almonds (raw)
  • Cashews (salted)
  • Pistachios (salted)
  • Pecans (raw)

Condiments and Spreads

  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Braggs Liquid Aminos

Meats, Poultry, and Seafood

  • Shrimp
  • Salmon
  • Tuna (in water, canned)
  • Tuna (seared)
  • Turkey (fresh, roasted)
  • Cod
  • Beef (sirloin and hamburger meat)
  • Chicken


  • Ezekiel 4:9 Flax bread
  • 100% whole grain bread (I will be making it)
  • Ezekiel 4:9 Sesame


  • Peas (green and black-eyed)
  • Edamame
  • Cannellini
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Black beans
  • Red beans

Other Things Not Listed but In Recipes (not sure why they are not listed in pH5 list, but here we are)

  • Oats
  • Berries (only with almond milk to neutralize)
  • Carob powder
  • Agave nectar (only in certain instances)
  • Honey (only with a nut butter or something to neutralize)
  • Celtic salt
  • Shredded coconut
  • Vanilla extract
  • Raisins (golden)
  • Brown rice
  • Fresh rosemary, thyme, sage
  • Olive and coconut oil
  • Kalamata olives
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Ground turkey
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Pepitas
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat groats
  • Cinnamon

This is a minimum of 28 days.  Sometimes people do it longer; it just depends on their symptoms.

Foods to be Added during Maintenance Phase

  • Cooked onion
  • Cooked garlic
  • A single cup of coffee
  • Dark chocolate (tiny bit)
  • Bell pepper (raw)
  • Apples
  • Kiwi
  • Cherries
  • Peach
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Pineapple
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Greek yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Honey
  • Agave nectar
  • Artichoke
  • Hummus
  • Coconut flour
  • Almond flour
  • Coconut milk

This lasts a minimum of 2 weeks.  I will add one thing in at a time to see if anything is a trigger food.  Some people live like this forever, but I don’t think that’s possible.  Maybe I will change my mind.

Also, life is imperfect so I won’t aim for perfection but more of an “all-or-something mentality” (a Balance 365 saying).  Focusing on not eating/drinking the things that I know will negatively affect me and trying to pick foods/drinks in these lists that will heal me.

Now on to Exercise

Unfortunately, there are many forms of exercise that exacerbate reflux.  So, the forms of exercise that I will focus on (for now) are:

  • Light strength training
  • Light yoga (no down-ward dog poses for sure)
  • Hiking/walking

I’m super sad that for now I can’t go running or mountain biking, but maybe I’ll get there.  It’s too jarring on my stomach/esophagus at this point.

I’m not sure if I have silent reflux or maybe something a bit more complicated like a hiatal hernia (or something else).  Right now I still burp allllll the time, have a chronic/annoying cough, my chest feels weird all the time, and have some shortness of breath.  I also have to clear my throat constantly and have mucus permanently in my throat.  It’s so hard to fall asleep at night because I burp, cough, breathe deeply, burp, cough, breathe deeply.  It’s a mess.

When I have more than a little bit of caffeine and especially carbonation, my symptoms are SO much worse.  And and fried foods and lots of fat… citrus and tomatoes… Etc.  I’m looking forward to feeling better no matter what I need to do!

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