Step 1: Educate Your Loved OnesTelling your loved ones about your health concerns can feel challenging. Many of my clients feel as though they’re a burden to their family members. However, I often encourage them to challenge their current beliefs about this. At the end of the day, family is there to support one another.
I recommend beginning the conversation by offering insight into GERD and an explanation of why symptoms occur. For example, you may choose to say something like this “GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, is when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing irritation and discomfort, often resulting in symptoms like heartburn, throat soreness, and regurgitation.”
Step 2: Share Your JourneyWhen sharing your story with others, personalize the conversation by sharing your own experiences with Reflux/GERD. Painting a picture of the physical and emotional challenges you’re experiencing gives your friends and family members insight into your day-to-day life.
An example of this may include discussing ways you are combatting reflux, such as specific dietary changes, avoidance of trigger foods, stress management, or any medications/supplements you’re utilizing. Discussing challenges with your loved ones is not only a great way to feel more support, but it can also be really helpful in coming up with solutions together.
Step 3: Express Your NeedYour true friends and family want to support you. The best way to facilitate this is by giving them actionable strategies regarding how they can support you. From a nutrition perspective, this may look like asking your family member to separate a non-spicy portion of food for you or to have dinner slightly earlier when possible. This collaborative effort may also involve asking family members to help you implement stress-management techniques by adjusting daily routines or planned events. After you’ve let them in on your challenges and condition, you may be surprised how receptive your loved ones are!
Step 4: Don’t IsolateStruggling with Acid Reflux and GERD can feel isolating at times. As a Registered Dietitian Specializing in Acid Reflux/GERD, it is my goal to help my clients live their fullest lives. I want to emphasize how it’s absolutely possible to make changes to your nutrition and lifestyle while still being able to enjoy your current life and socialize - it often just takes a bit more planning and thought! Have a snack before you go out to dinner or a social event to avoid over-eating. Don’t be afraid to bring a reflux-friendly dish to your gathering like Roasted Thyme Squash with Tahini or Wild Rice & Basil Edamame Salad for everyone to enjoy. This will help you feel more confident going into the event knowing that there will be something you can eat comfortably.
Step 5: Encourage Involvement
If you feel comfortable doing so, you may turn your Reflux journey into a team effort by inviting your loved ones to become more involved. You may suggest they join you for doctor's appointments or virtual sessions. This shared involvement not only strengthens your relationship but also creates a sense of joint responsibility for your well-being. Together, you can navigate the ups and downs of GERD, enabling you to feel more supported in your care.
I hope this post has helped navigate future discussions surrounding your acid reflux, GERD, or LPR. Remember, you are not alone. Your medical care does not have to be a solo process and in fact, your treatment plan may be even more effective when supported by others.
__________________Written by Molly Pelletier, MS, RD, LDN | Molly Pelletier is a Registered Dietitian specializing in acid reflux/GERD/LPR and a leading voice in nutrition for acid reflux. Molly's background in nutrition science and her personal health journey with GERD culminated in the curation of FLORA Nutrition, where she shares evidence-based tools and strategies to help others recover from reflux and optimize their overall well-being. Follow Molly on Social Media @mollypelletier.rd on all platforms | YouTube | Instagram | TikTok | Pinterest |