Friday, February 5, 2010


Sometimes admitting that something isn’t working is just as difficult as changing it.

I’ve been pretending to myself that my eating habits are really healthy. They aren’t horrible, but when I look at them honestly, they aren’t what they should be.

I don’t eat enough.
I don’t eat regularly or frequently enough.
What I do eat often isn’t substantial.

It doesn’t take much for me to lose my appetite. Pain, fatigue and stress (and probably my meds) all make me nauseous. When I’m tired after work, I'd rather just curl up on the couch than make myself something healthy to eat. If I’m queasy, I might have a few crackers, drink a cup of tea and feel so full all I want to do is sleep. And with HCM, eating often makes me tachycardic and breathless. Last night I was exhausted and in pain. I ate a few whole-grain tortilla chips (still full of sodium, I know), made a tiny bit of guacamole that I didn’t finish because I felt sick, and called it dinner. My Mom would have flipped out.

Two years ago my rheumatologist told me to gain ten pounds, so I did. I thought I’d feel stronger, but I don’t. I’ve been patting myself on the back for eating a healthy diet, but the improvements I’ve made haven’t been far-reaching or consistent enough to make a difference to the way I feel.

Changing this isn’t going to be easy or comfortable. I have to dismantle the way I shop, the way I work, the amount of rest I get, the way I structure my evenings. I have to do all these things EVEN WHEN I’d prefer to collapse on the couch. And I know it's a cycle. Not eating because I don't have any energy isn't going to give me more energy.

Sometimes, for me at least, RA is a very tempting excuse. A part of me thinks about all of this effort and wants to say, “I can’t do that! I’m too tired and sore. Not my fault.” But if that’s what I’m going to do, I could come up with a million excuses. None of them are good enough to justify not feeding myself properly.

I don't expect this to magically get better when I'm in law school. I need to make some big changes before then, and it’s going to take a lot of thinking. What do you do when you want to overhaul an area of your life?

I need to:

Get a handle on my nausea. Somehow.
Do a better job of planning my shopping.
Get better at cooking for one by cutting down recipes or by planning portions to last throughout the week.
Eat at regular intervals throughout the day.
Eat food that is nutrient-rich.
Eat more protein!

This is going to be a lot of work.


WarmSocks said...

Hard to do!
You could cook a recipe for four, then divide it into separate containers and freeze three. Cooking for one week would put meals for the rest of the month in the freezer. Just an idea. Keep us posted on your progress.

Cathy said...

Hi Helen,
Thanks so much for the warm wishes and gentle hugs. They are helping!

Soups have become my best friends. I can make a huge batch and then refrigerate some and freeze some. Also, since I have to take all of my food with me everywhere I go, I always have a salad ready to put together with homemade dressing (the dressing only takes minutes.) Eggs are also a quick meal at our house! Good luck! I think you have great goals.

Laurie Grassi said...

I am so not a cook, so whenever I do go to the effort of making something, I definitely do what WarmSocks suggests and make a big batch and freeze a bunch in smaller containers. That way, when I'm not up to cooking, or just don't feel like it, or want something good to take to work for lunch, I have stuff ready to go in the freezer!

So much cheaper than buying pre-packaged stuff and usually worth the work!

britta said...

I am trying to do the same Helen! During the week I am by myself making meals, so when I come home on the weekends to see my parents, it is nice to not have to work so hard. I really need to cut down on processed bad for me.

rheumablog said...

I'm cooking for four (when I cook!) so there aren't always a lot of leftovers, but I've finally discovered the easiest way to prepare for those days when I don't feel like cooking (or just can't) is to make extra servings of the main dish. Last week I baked a whole bag of frozen chicken breasts rather than four for the evening meal, froze some and refrigerated some too. It worked out well for lunches AND dinners. WarmSocks sounds like she has the routine down. And what Cathy mentioned about soups is right on. They're easy to make, hearty, nutritious and delicious -- a great way to get the good food you need with a minimum of effort when you're fragged or in too much pain to bother. Best of luck in tackling this -- it's a challenge, but one well worth taking on. Hope you're feeling good!