Coming Clean With Food

We choose our adversaries or friends with food.

When I first met my wife, I was a vegetarian. We agreed to be vegetarian upon her arrival from Vietnam. But a few months into it, I think even before our formal marriage, she said she couldn’t stay veggie. I was more than a little miffed, but I decided I could look past that. I was in middle age and my options were decreasing rapidly. We’re still together 13 years later.

During that time, I thought, well, if she wants me to eat meat, then I’m going to eat what I want. I’ll eat chocolate, I’ll eat chips, and I’ll dig Indian food. Even then though, there were warning signs all around me. I was already developing a persistent cough. I was using red pepper in almost everything. The chocolate habit, though small, was starting to do its damage. I had been indulging in corn chips for years already. Even before I met my wife, I was already in trouble.

I had been visiting doctors and reading articles, searching everywhere for something, anything! that would give me relief from a persistent cough that would not go away. No matter what I ate, the cough was there, it seemed.

I went through some major lifestyle changes during the last 15 years, and still, the cough remained. We moved from California to Utah. We went from apartment to house, to another house. We had kids. I went from working in an office to working from home. It seemed like no matter what I did, there it was, a persistent cough that I could not shake. There didn’t seem to be any consistent pattern as to its coming and going, either. I was really confused.

Over the years, my mom would drop clues all over the place. An article here, a PDF there. Life dropped clues, too. But for one reason or another, I could not or would not pick them up. None of the theories that I had seen seemed to match my experience. Until my mom sent me this: The surprising new food rules to banish acid reflux. Therein I read the following, and I was glued:

Other common symptoms include a chronic cough (that persists longer than
eight weeks), frequent throat-clearing, hoarseness and a sore throat.

Yeah. That was me. That is still me because I’m healing now, from decades of eating food that is either too acidic or creates acid in my stomach. My throat wasn’t sore, but I cleared my throat a lot. I coughed every morning, still do, but to a much lesser extent now. I’ve only been doing this for two weeks and I feel a noticeable improvement. And my wife can sleep better. I am sleeping better. I am feeling better. What did I do?

I found the author of that pdf my mom sent me and found his book, The Acid Watcher Diet. I started reading it. I read that pdf a few times more, too. But the book gives far more information and as I read it, I realized just what I was doing to myself. I was poisoning myself with food that had acid in it.

I had to stop with the snacks in the pantry and divert myself to the fruit bowl and the refrigerator. The one takeaway from that book is that acid is used to preserve food. That means that if the food comes in a package, even if it’s dry, it has acid. I got litmus paper and started testing everything I was going to eat.

Reverse osmosis water was a 7. My morning oatmeal cereal was a 4 or a 3. I didn’t bother testing my Indian food packs from Tasty-Bite. I know they’re acidic. The book taught me that in order to heal, I had to eat food that was 5 and above. I learned that pH is like decibels, its orders of magnitude. A 4 is ten times more acidic than a 5. So I was looking for something greener.

Veggies are green. Most of the fruits I needed to eat were green. Bananas, papaya, mango, are all 5 and above. I was worried about cheese, but most hard cheeses are 5 and above. My wife’s rice and chicken soup were a 7. God, I hate that soup, but it works for me. Brown rice works, too, and I love brown rice. If there is any doubt in my mind about what to eat, I make sure that it’s not in a package and that it is whole when I buy it.

Lemons, limes, pineapple, and even most apples are off-limits for me now. I was eating an apple every morning for years and the acid in the apples was making me cough. I will have to find another way to keep the doctor away.

So if there is even a hint of acid, I avoid it. If there is still some doubt, I give it the litmus test. I tested the water I drink, the almond milk, whole milk from cows, and a few other things. And I kept reading that book. I’m a third of the way through now, it’s big, so it’s kind of a beer bong of food knowledge. I’ll keep reading.

I was planning on writing this article later after I read the book. But the benefits are already so good, that I had to write this today. I’m losing weight, I lost 5 pounds easily over the last two weeks. I’m 6'1" and I’d like to get back to the weight that I was when I met my wife, 165. I will see that and my abs in March.

I’m losing my post nasal drip and the cough. I’m not clear yet, but I can see that happening in the near future. I’m already sleeping well through the night. The tension around sleep that I used to have is nearly completely gone. I used to fret about waking up to go pee in the night because I’d come back coughing and it’d be hard to get back to sleep again. So I’d get up early, and be just a little off for the rest of the day. Those days are gone if I stick to this diet.

I’ve made friends with celery, carrots, and lettuce again. I’m looking for anything with dietary fiber because I know that when I eat fiber, it puffs up in my stomach and makes me feel full. I get the nutrition I need, but I have the sensation that the food just passes right through me, and it doesn't stick to me.

Last year I got really sick, might’ve been COVID, not sure, but whatever it was, it kicked my ass all over the house. I started taking Emergen-C. I got better faster, but that stuff was acidic and it was making me cough. I thought I needed to take it to keep my immune system going during this pandemic. Reading that book and a few other articles, I learned that cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamin C. I don’t have to eat oranges or take a supplement to get my C. And I love cantaloupe.

The kicker for me is my heels. I have suffered from dry, cracking heels since I moved to the even drier climate of Utah. I’ve been putting lanoline on my heels to keep them well, but I don’t want to have to do that for the rest of my life. After a few weeks of avoiding acid in my food, my heels are much, much better now. I expect that trend to continue as I stay away from acid in my food. I will eventually wean myself off of the lanoline for my heels because I just won’t need it anymore.

And now I have a really good reason to stay off of red meat, which my wife has been trying to encourage me to eat, thinking of my health. Bless her heart. Well, I don’t need to eat red meat for health. I have chicken and fish for now, and eventually, I might go veggie again. All I know for sure is I feel better now than I’ve felt in years and I’m just getting started. Food really is the best medicine.

Write on.

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