Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, causes painful symptoms (like heartburn and acid regurgitation) that usually occur after meals. An exact cause of GERD hasn’t been pinpointed, but certain foods and lifestyle habits seem to trigger GERD symptoms in many people suffering from this condition.
To complicate matters even more, every person suffering from GERD has a different list of foods and habits that trigger their symptoms.
That’s why it's wise to keep a heartburn journal to find your own specific triggers. Here’s how to get started.
Set a timeline. Decide how long you plan to record your observations in your journal. Two to four weeks should be ample time for you to notice patterns.
Take notes. Each time you experience a bout of heartburn, note symptoms, timing, foods you ate and other activities:
Recognize your symptoms. Record and describe the symptoms you experience, such as: heartburn, regurgitation, nausea, coughing, sore throat, or particles of food coming back up. Also try to rate the intensity of these symptoms, such as mild, moderate or severe.
Watch the clock. Note the time that your symptoms occurred—when they started and how long they lasted. Look for patterns, like whether or not you are more prone to heartburn in the morning or in the evening. If this is the case, you might try to avoid trigger foods at this specific time.