Helpful Tips Collated from Fellow Achalasia Patients
NB These have not been vetted by the medical profession but are what have worked for some of us
Tips for coping
1 Eat smaller meals more frequently.
2 Eat slowly and chew well
3 Don’t eat too late
4 Beware of eating when feeling stressed
5 Eat fairly moist food
6 Lifting the chest and taking a deep breath also helps.
7 Keep a small bottle of water handy in case one’s oesophageal muscles go into spasm when out and about
8 Don’t have drinks too cold
9 Eat early in the evening
10 Don’t drink before bedtime
11 Don’t eat too many nibbles such as crisps and nuts or drink too many glasses of wine before a meal in the evening (I know one should only have 1 or 2 glasses of wine but . . . !)
12 A good start to the day is a fruit smoothie using a wide variety of fruit liquidised with a live yoghurt and probiotic (actimel) and a good teaspoon of manuka honey.
13 Multigrain toast with Somerset brie is also a favourite, helped down with hot water.
14 With a good variety of nutrients early in the day, I don't have to worry about having to eat much else. Ironically, that then makes it easier to eat.
15 Always have a drink with the meals: sparkling types can be beneficial, and gulps between every few mouthfuls help
16 My most important factor in managing my eating has been drinking hot water (temperature is important - half cold and half boiling). Mastering a technique which worked for me took time, but is worth it because I am now comfortable eating out and the only downside is the copious amounts of hot water I might need to drink to get the food down. The technique involves judging how much food I can eat before I have to gulp down some water.
17 Soups are a good way of eating a variety of nutrients as they can be liquidised. I include all vegetables and pulses and experiment to get something I really like, sometimes topped with cheddar cheese.
18 I avoid eating skins on fruit and veg, but do churn them up in smoothies and soups
19 I avoid fatty meat and eat mostly chicken, fish or vegetarian dishes. I can even manage pizza if I drink enough hot water with it.
20 I also avoid spicy food and drinking alcohol with food is very difficult.
21 Salads are best eaten with lots of dressing and in small quantities.
22 Be aware of the types of food you personally need to avoid, and what can be digested easily.
23 I avoid the following:-
a) Large lumps of meat. The only meat I consider eating is mince usually in the form of a cottage or shepherd’s pie.
b) Dry chicken can be a problem. Meat in a sauce or casserole is usually better than anything else.
c) Pasta of any sort.
d) Too much bread. I can eat crackers better than bread.
e) Potatoes can be a problem if boiled but thin french fries are not too bad.
f) Rice. My first bad experience of Achalasia was with a dish of paella. Fried rice is better than fluffy stuff.
g) Spotted dick or similar dry sponge puddings are avoided.
24 Food that gives me little trouble:-
ii) Fish - salmon or battered cod seem good.
iv) Stir-fry food is usually fine
v) Funnily enough quiche or similar is usually not a problem
vi) Cheese with crackers
vii) For dessert ice cream is best.
25 Basically it seems it is the consistency of the food which has more influence than anything.
26 Don’t eat too much bread in one sitting and eat good quality bread rather than soft white bread which is particularly bad for blocking the oesophagus
27 Avoid very dry food like falafels, raw cauliflower, raw carrot
28 Best foods were weetabix, readybrek, custard, sponge puddings and mashed potato. . Not the most healthy range but I was advised by the dietician at the hospital that it was more important to keep my calorie intake up than eat healthily.
I was prescribed Fortisip milkshakes which were a lifesaver as they are full of vitamins and nutrients.
29 Probiotic pills/Acidophilus powder as a major part of immune system is in one’s gut
30 Echinacea and Manuka honey to boost immune system
31 Sleep propped up with lots of pillows (before the operation) to help stop food and drink coming back up at night
32 A bed wedge is a useful alternative to lots of pillows to keep you propped up at night.
33 I always finish the day with a good teaspoon of manuka honey and lemon juice in hot water. This is after I have ensured as much as much as possible that all food has been washed down. That way I am left with manuka honey in my oesophagus overnight. I haven't had a cold for the last couple of years so I think it might have given me some protection.
34 Relaxation helps to avoid spasms and pain with the sphincter.
35 I find yoga helps as does drinking hot water to relieve the pain.
36 Pain from the sphincter can be avoided by warming up cold food and drink in the mouth first before allowing it to go down. Avoid letting the chest get cold. Cold wind can set up pain.
I wear a scarf even if I don't feel cold.
37 Talk to other Achalasia sufferers. It helps so much to know you’re not alone!!