If you found this post, you are likely considering a book to help you manage your reflux, but are unsure which one to pick. You are in luck! In this post, I apply my 15 years experience personally dealing with acid reflux (GERD and LPR) to my review the top 5 books in the acid reflux diet and cookbook category.
For each review start with an objective review of the book’s premise, content, and structure. The praise and critique section highlights subjects that are either unique selling points or reasons to avoid buying the book! If you have researched reflux at all you know that the symptoms vary widely. As such, so do the approaches that you can use to manage the symptoms.
So I encourage you to read each review and decide based on your situation which, if any would be helpful to you! Please comment below if I have missed something or you have read these books and have a unique insight to offer!
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The Low-FODMAP Diet for Beginners: A 7-Day Plan to Beat Bloat and Soothe Your Gut with Recipes for Fast IBS Relief
The Low-FODMAP Diet for Beginners Review
Overall rating: 4.5⭐
The Low-FODMAP Diet is a book for sufferers of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), and gluten related disorders. This book, designed for beginners, aims to help sufferers identify and resolve triggers to bloating, gas, and stomach pain within 7 days!
Furthermore, it distills the low-FODMAP diet down to 5 easy to follow steps, providing meals, shopping lists, and easy to follow recipes! This is important, as following this diet on your own is widely viewed as restrictive, complicated, and overwhelming! Frankly, other authors and internet resources fail to distill this information down to an easily consumable format and to provide tasty recipes that leverage a wide range of ingredients.
“I thought I’d struggle more on a low-FODMAP diet, but this book made me realize there are plenty great things I can eat … and I’ve even lost a little weight because I’m eating better on this food plan.”
By now, you are undoubtedly wondering what a FODMAP is… The low-FODMAP diet is based on a clinical study that demonstrated 75% of IBS sufferers were able to significantly improve their symptoms by addressing certain classes of carbohydrates that some bodies to not process well.
“This book is fool proof. The information about IBS and Fodmaps is clear and concise. The 7 day meal plan is easy to follow. The author lays out the menu, the grocery list, and the meal prep steps. You cannot go wrong with this book. There are a lot of other great recipes included as well.”
There may not be a better example of the reason we use acronyms. Much as this book, hides the complexities of the science, the FODMAP acronym hides the mess of clinical terms it represents: Fermentable Oligo Di Mono saccharides and Polyols. In short, these are classes of carbohydrates that certain bodies do not process well, leading to the painful, embarrassing symptoms of IBS:
By baselining with Low-FODMAP foods, the reader can easily identify their unique triggers that contribute to gut issues including stomach pain, bloating and gas.
“My daughter is having digestive problems for years and it’s getting worse. So I bought this to try to help get her healthy. She is on her third week now of using this diet plan and she is feeling 100% better. She is learning to cook healthier, eat healthier and looks healthier. Now she can try to figure out what exactly is affecting her so negatively. This book has opened her eyes to better eating and how it affects her health.”
The book is written by a fellow IBS sufferer who is sharing personal experiences with managing the disease. Additionally, the book caries perspectives from a registered dietitian who has years of experience with counseling clients through the use of these dietary techniques. As I have done with TheAcidRefluxGuy.com, the tips and tricks are based on first-hand experience, so you only get practical, accurate, and time-tested advice.
Praise & critiques:
First off, there is a recipe for chocolate cookies! As if that were not enough, the low-FODMAP Diet for Beginners readers are highly complementary of the recipes, citing lots of food choices and great recipes. They go on to say the book is very well organized and easy to understand.
It helps navigate the maze of guidance that is out there in books and on the internet about FODMAP and associated dietary choices. They really enjoy the focus on a 7 day plan to baseline and eliminate discomfort. Readers are able to experiment with foods and develop a tailored list of triggers that they can avoid, while enjoying a list of delicious alternatives and meals so they do not feel they’re missing out.
This is not a book that summarizes a wide array of untested recommendations found on the internet. On the contrary, it is based on dietary science and is co-authored by a registered dietitian who specializes in this diet plan, and has helped many people take advantage of it over the years. Most importantly, it has helped people who have suffered with IBS for years, feel relief for the first time.
“This diet made a huge difference on how I feel day in and day out. I cannot recommend this book & diet enough for those who have struggled.”
All that being said, no book is perfect. There are a number of critiques that I want to provide, so you have a balanced view. First off, there are a number of typos and omissions; for instance, a careful reader will note that some of the recommendations in the 7 day base-lining stage include some foods that are on the potential sensitivities list.
There aren’t any recipe photographs. Some express frustration at the lack of pork and beef recipes, the repeat use of ingredients like gluten free bread crumbs, and the number of meals that use a microwave as part of meal prep.
While most really enjoy the meals, some may find them bland; of course, this depends on your tastes and meal preferences. Lastly, if you have a small family or are eating alone, you may find that you have a lot of leftovers due to the recommended portions, and may need to adjust accordingly!
The Acid Watcher Diet Review
Overall rating: 3.5⭐
Dr Jonathan Aviv begins The Acid Watcher Diet by helping readers understand commonly misunderstood reflux symptoms. For instance, Silent Reflux is often misdiagnosed as a cold or asthma, due to the similarities in symptoms. The author boasts more than 4000 patients having tried his plan, each reporting relief from their reflux symptoms.
The content of the book is laid out in three phases, the first phase aims to establish the connection between our eating habits and reflux, and its many side effects ranging from inflammation to cancer. In phase two, he deep dives into digestion, stomach acidity, and lays the groundwork for his diet plan. The book concludes in phase there where Jonathan provides his 28-day reflux prevention plan, culminating in meal plans, recipes and exercise recommendations.
The cornerstone content, is the 28-day program, which aims to create a balance of proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with the idea that the right balance can help to neutralize acid and relieve inflammation. For example,he outlines what he calls the “dirty dozen” which are foods such as vinegar, citrus, carbonation, coffee, and tea. Furthermore, he warns regarding the pitfalls of processed foods.
He calls out coffee, chocolate, alcohol, mint, raw onion, raw garlic and more as foods to avoid as they weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Lastly, he identifies 6 extremely acidic food groups including sugary soft drinks, tomato sauce, vinegar, wine, etc… A quote from his book:
“Dietary acid damage is one of the foremost health challenges Americans face, affecting more people than heat disease, diabetes, and celiac disease. Recent statistics reveal that incidence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the most common form of acid damage, has more than doubled since 1995; in the United States alone at least sixty million people have acid reflux, and worldwide that number leaps to 1.4 billion people.”
Praise & critiques:
There are a number of positive merits to this text including the debunked myth that an alkaline diet or drinking alkaline liquids are helpful to manage or eliminate acid reflux or improve blood pH (low pH indicates high acidity).
Jonathan provides rules of thumb, such as eating 5 foods above a certain pH to balance with an item that has lower pH. He raises awareness of common reflux triggers so that sufferers can navigate around them in their meal planning. Its clear after reading through the +280 5 star reviews on amazon, there are many who have benefited from his guidance and meal plans:
“The recipes are delicious as well as healthy and generally very easy to prepare. I was skeptical at first because the internet is full of homemade remedies and so on. However, If you suffer from GERD I would strongly suggest to at least review the book. I am 1/2 way through my 28 days. I do feel better, but really finally feel like I am confident on what to eat, which is really huge.”
“This diet works! I’ve been suffering from acid reflux for years and medication wasn’t working. I did the diet and now don’t have problems. It also helped with my headaches and psoriasis”
“I am currently 3 weeks into the acid diet and feeling much better after being diagnosed with a sliding hiatal hernia and being told to change my eating habits.”
That said, my goal with these reviews is to provide a balanced review. There are a number of items you should be aware of before investing in this text. To start, many find the diet restrictive and confusing, complaining it could be better organized for easy reference. Also, the author talks A LOT about cancer, perhaps as a way to motivate adherence to his diet, so if you are already anxious about your reflux, this may not be the book for you. After-all, stress is a known trigger for reflux!
As many of you are not from the United States, you should know that the meal plans are designed with common ingredients and meals that Americans would prepare. So you would need to do some additional work to adapt his recommendations to your lifestyle. This can be challenging, as things like acidity level are not on nutrition labels. Adding to the challenge, you will need to navigate a fair amount of conflicting information in the text:
“The downside is I found the plan VERY difficult to follow, even after switching over to the “Maintenance Phase.” The diet is extremely restrictive and involves a great deal of work, especially for today’s busy person. Be ready to spend the majority of your free time, shopping / cooking / preparing/ packing meals and doing dishes until you’re ready to drop. If you have ANYTHING going on in your life outside of work, it’s going to be a royal pain.”
“There’s way too many contradicting information. For example, it continually goes on and on about lemon causing acid reflux (and to definitely NOT use it) and delves into the physiology about its damage but then a recipe for the healing phase called “Broiled herb salmon with steamed spinach” requires 2 or 3 lemon slices.”
As a good bookend to my critiques, I think this quote summarizes my viewpoints well:
“Modern medicine loves to treat the symptoms but not the root cause of anything. Telling someone not to eat acidic foods because you have acid reflux is lazy science. There is a specific reason each individual has reflux…this needs to be analyzed and treated for each person.”
That said, some reflux sufferers have complications that mean they will need to figure out how to live with their reflux for the long term. If that describes you, the advice found in this book can help to avoid the additive complications that come from higher acidity and foods that commonly trigger reflux.
Dropping Acid Review
Overall rating: 3⭐
Dr Jamie Koufman is the founder of the Voice Institute of New York, considered one of the leading voice and reflux treatment centers. Additionally, she is widely recognized as having coined the terms LPR and silent reflux and credited for putting together the first catalogs of the associated symptoms. Suppose that makes her the Godmother of silent reflux! Her book includes case studies from her patients as well as many lifestyle tips for coping with reflux.
“Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure is the first book to explain how acid reflux, particularly silent reflux, is related to dietary and lifestyle factors. It also explains how and why the reflux epidemic is related to the use of acid as a food preservative.”
Similar to other reflux texts, this book guides the reader through a 2 week detox. Subsequently, the idea is to slowly reintroduce foods that are classified as being above 4 pH (note that pH is an acidity scale where lower pH equates to higher acidity). The book recommends readers to avoid anything lower than 5 pH, avoids common reflux triggers (chocolate, coffee, alcohol, high fat, etc…).
“As Dr. Koufman explained, one reason why millions of Americans of all ages suffer from acid reflux can be tied to Title 21, a law passed by Congress in 1973. In order to safely preserve packaged foods and beverages, more and more foods became highly acidic.”
As far as the review goes, it is as short and sweet as the content devoted to discussing the disease and its treatment. The author quickly moves past this into providing her recommended lifestyle tips and recipes to manage reflux and its symptoms.
Praise & critiques:
As noted, the book is concise and to the point. In fact, despite the author’s credentials, the book is noticeably light on coverage for the disease and its treatments. However, I do give her credit for explaining the role of Pepsins in the escalation of acid reflux symptoms. In fact, she uses an imaginative story of lobsters floating in a seawater as a way to make the concept memorable!
As you will know from reading my blog, I’m not a big fan of the concept of low acid foods. In fact, if you have read my articles I advise that getting your acidity back UP, is the approach that most can use to resolve indigestion and restore function of the flap between your stomach and throat (the lower esophageal sphincter) that keeps stomach contents down (signaled by your body to close by high acidity and pressure that occurs during digestion).
That said, this low acidity approach can be helpful for those who are unable to cure their reflux due to inflammatory issues, ulcers, or other complications, and are limited to approaches that will mitigate its symptoms. There are hundreds of positive ratings for this book and I suspect this is due to the positive effect on symptoms. However, this dietary approach is not a cure, as suggested in the title, but a means to manage symptoms.
“This book has been such a HUGE help to me in my quest at preventing acid reflux from happening, to the point where I only need to take my reflux pill for when I eat/drink something I know will be a trigger – which I now know, thanks to this book! It also has recipes, which are greatly appreciated, too.”
I should say, it is important to note that the book can be hard to follow for novice cooks, as the recipes are not simple and some carry mistakes that may be hard to detect.
“I was just diagnosed with silent reflux and while the info and science is good the cook book Part is awful. I’m not a chef and have no interest or ability to get that complicated. The reviews however on this page are very helpful. I’ll try other books. BTW. Surprised this is such a huge best seller with the impractical cookbook part.”
The book seems to be targeting an audience who have poor dietary habits (lots of soda, junk food, and who do not cook at home). Given this, many of these foods comprise on the high acidity list, which may be helpful for many but not all readers.
The vegetarian meals are described by some reviewers as “basic and unimaginative.” Some of the recipes call for strange food combinations like beans and fruit or fruit and milk, which can be triggers for many (diary and high fat)…. most reflux sufferers know that coffee and caffeinated drinks are triggers and should be avoided!
“Don’t buy this book if you want basic recipes. As a cookbook it’s geared towards a gourmet chef not an average Joe. And there are a number of ingredients that are used in the book but if you suffer from severe acid reflux you won’t be able to eat- including dairy.”
Finally, If you are considering this book, you should note there are two versions available. The new version is updated and easier to read. However, Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure is focused on someone who is just getting started with the diet, whereas the second book is more for transitioning and maintenance.
Review coming soon!
Review coming soon!
As you may have picked up in this article, my preference is not to manage reflux, so much as it is to eliminate it entirely!
Read my supplements article to find out how.
I hope this review was helpful to you! Let me know in the comments below.
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