When Cheryl came to see me she was highly stressed with poor health and weight-gain that had escalated over the last five years since menopause. Her doctor recommended that she see a nutritionist for weight loss and management of her gastric reflux problem. Reflux usually occurs when hydrochloric acid, which is used by the stomach for digestion, backs up into the esophagus. It can be caused by eating too many spicy or fatty foods, and consuming a diet high in alcohol, coffee, citrus fruits, chocolate, milk, and tomato based foods.
The major symptoms of gastric reflux are burning and rawness in the digestive tract, coughing and mucus in the throat. Some people get severe pains in their chest that makes them feel as though they are having a heart attack.
Cheryl was on medication for high blood pressure, asthma, and reflux. She had low energy and poor sleep quality. At 55, she was 5’6” and her weight was 185. She walked daily when the weather was good and took a multi-vitamin, vitamins C & E, calcium and glucosamine.
For breakfast Cheryl typically ate an English muffin, toast or cereal. Lunch consisted of a sandwich or yogurt. For dinner it was usually meat and potatoes, or a healthy choice meal. After dinner Cheryl usually got sweet cravings and chose ice cream or a frozen fruit pop. Throughout the day she drank coffee, tea, water, milk, Gatorade and cranberry juice. In terms of stress, Cheryl had a good marriage but recently lost both of her parents. She was also worried about two of her children who had health issues.
I recommended that Cheryl eliminate the foods mentioned above that aggravate reflux and eat small balanced meals and two snacks all with protein to keep her blood sugar stabilized and energy up. Eating small balanced meals and not eating past seven PM is very important to prevent heartburn and reflux. I asked Cheryl to increase her fiber level to 25-35 grams per day by choosing high fiber breads and cereals and eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and legumes. I also suggested she add ground flax seeds to her cereal, salads, and yogurt since they are high in fiber and help with inflammation. This would help with both constipation and reflux and fill her up to promote healthy weight-loss.
The nutritional supplements Cheryl needed were: acidophilus, aloe and a gastric repair product to help with her digestive symptoms, and a fish oil supplement to help with inflammation and psoriasis.
For exercise I recommended that Cheryl walk three-five times per week for at least 30 minutes and start adding strength and conditioning exercises. Since she couldn’t rely on the weather always being good, Cheryl picked out a video tape that had a combination of aerobic and strength and conditioning exercises for women over 50. This would help not only with weight loss and osteoporosis prevention, but also with managing stress better. In addition, I showed Cheryl some deep breathing exercises to help her calm down when she was feeling very stressed or anxious.
On her follow-up visit, Cheryl reported more energy in general, improved psoriasis and no more heartburn. The constipation was also resolved and she was now drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day. Her walking had increased to four times a week and she was doing strength and conditioning exercises three times a week. In addition, the asthma improved and Cheryl no longer was coughing although she was still on maintenance doses of her medication. In about five months Cheryl reduced her weight to 165 lbs. with her goal of 150 lbs. now in sight.
I think Cheryl had underlying food sensitivities to milk and milk products that were not only aggravating her reflux but her psoriasis and asthma as well When she switched to soy milk and stopped consuming ice cream and yogurt a lot of her problems resolved. In addition, drinking more water, increasing her exercise, and adding enough fiber to alleviate constipation helped detoxify Cheryl’s system. This also probably contributed to better skin quality, improved energy, and Cheryl’s ability to handle stress more effectively.
Cheryl’s Makeover: Before
Problem: Gastric reflux, overweight, constipation, psoriasis, asthma. Cheryl came to see me because she had so many connected problems and none of the medical treatments that she was on were helping her get better.
Diet: Cheryl’s diet had a good deal of junk food and dairy products which were making her reflux and asthma worse.
Supplements: Cheryl was taking a multiple vitamin, vitamins C & E, calcium and glucosamine.
Exercise: Although Cheryl walked when she could, she wasn’t on a regular schedule and only fit it in when she had extra time.
Stress Mgt. & Self-Care: Cheryl was religious and regularly attended church and prayed. She also wrote in her journal daily and read to relax herself.
Cheryl’s Makeover: After Total Wellness Program
Problem: Gastric reflux, overweight, constipation, psoriasis, asthma. After Cheryl completely changed her diet most of her symptoms went away and she lost 20 lbs. The weight loss and resolved constipation were also significant for alleviating the gastric reflux symptoms. Removing dairy products from her diet helped with the psoriasis and asthma as well.
Diet: I recommended that Cheryl reduce her dairy, fatty and acidic foods, sugar and tea consumption that was contributing to her gastric reflux symptoms. The meal plan that was suggested was small frequent meals that were high in fiber, with lots of vegetables, quality protein and water.
Supplements: Cheryl added probiotics, fish oil, and several nutrients to help heal her gut lining.
Exercise: After starting the diet and feeling better, Cheryl began to walk regularly and also do strength and conditioning exercises with light weights. This helped with her weight loss.
Stress Mgt. & Self-Care: Cheryl had a child with type I diabetes and was very stressed out about her condition. I taught Cheryl to breathe when she found herself thinking of the worst case scenarios. It wouldn’t help her child to be anxious and would be more productive to be calm if special care was needed.