By Julie Beyer, MA, RDN
If you are acid sensitive, you may wonder if you can ever enjoy the taste of citrus ever again. Although we always need to emphasize, “everyone is different,” the good news is that you can modify many recipes to include a little bit of lemon, lime, or orange flavor without the pain of consuming a fully acidic product.
Use a different part of the fruit. A simple substitute for citrus flavor is to add citrus zest (a grating of the outer peel of the lemon or orange) or citrus oil. A tiny amount of zest or oil can provide a potent burst of flavor.
Try herbal citrus substitutes. Lemon thyme, lemon grass, lemon verbena, or lemon balm can impart a hint of citrus without the pain.
Garnish with a slice of citrus. One slice of orange, lemon, or lime is not the same as drinking a whole glass of lemonade or eating a whole orange. Sometimes it is just enough to smell the fruit or have a drop or two of the juice in a glass of water.
Substitute other juices. In recipes that require the liquid of citrus juice, try substituting blueberry juice, pear juice, or even a “tea” made from lemon grass or lemon verbena. Some people can even tolerate small amounts of low-acid orange juice.
Use an acid modifier like Prelief. If you don’t want to modify a recipe, using a product like Prelief (calcium glycerophosphate) can reduce the acid in your food without affecting the acid in your stomach.
Keep in mind that the acidity of citrus may play an integral role in the composition of the food product you are creating. For example, acidic and alkaline ingredients often combine chemically in baking products to create a leavening effect. In these cases, the acid is not likely to affect your symptoms and might compromise the quality of your product.
Finally, it is always important to try a tiny amount of something first to assess how you feel afterwards. Everyone is different, but with a little experimentation, most people can still enjoy the fresh scents and flavors of citrus!
PS: I love the “wake-up” feeling I get from using lemon scented soap and hand lotion! Sometimes the scent of something can be enough to satisfy a craving!