I’m tired of feeling bloated and gassy. I’m tired of having so much diarrhea. But how do I change a lifetime of bad eating habits? Nutrition is not just important to PLWH but it is also a complex and highly important field. I don’t take this lightly because there is lots of help and many funded nutritional services to assist groups and individuals. Many PLWH also have contributing conditions, such as diabetes, that often complicate a nutritional diet. Please get professional help when you need it.
So why talk about nutrition now? I’m no expert. I am, however, someone who is experiencing change in my body, in my nutrition and in my diet. That’s why I’m talking about it right now. And I want you to contribute as well. I want to hear your stories of diet challenges and successes. I think the more we know about how each of us have overcome adversity the better we can be at making positive changes for our own lives. I caution folks to seek advice before making drastic changes that could impact your health. However, small trials and changes could help to make a difference in our quality of life every day.
Earlier this year I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant. I was asked to remove all dairy from my diet for a month. I also stopped taking all fiber supplements. All of this helped to reduce gas and confirmed my intolerance to lactose. To compensate (badly) I continued to choose carbohydrates as a substitute for cheese, chocolate and carmel. Since that time I have slowly introduced Lactaid products such as milk, cottage cheese and even pills. Small amounts of shredded cheese on a salad or as a garnish have been fine so far. Every day is an experiment and I’m learning to do so very carefully.
In the meantime my body mass index is reaching new heights with every carbohydrate. So now it’s time to think diet. I was at a school auditorium recently and I was so uncomfortable in the seat it was all I could do to sit during a performance. I digress. My long time ingrained nutrition for PLWH has been that you do not lose weight. Because by doing so you lose good mass with the bad and that can leave you vulnerable to other diseases. For me, I think that time has passed. I need to do something more dramatic in my life that will also help to change the way I look at, choose and eat food. It is so easy to reach for those chips and munch until they are gone! (How did I do that? – guilt – Why did I do that?)
Each week for the past few years now I’ve been building body muscle by going to the gym and continuing to do some mild cardio exercise as I can tolerate. But it’s not enough. I want to lose unwanted fat and pounds I’m carrying. Maybe it’s the warmer weather but I tend to be more active now. I can get out in the gardens. I can make better food choices. And always remember, especially those of you whose immune system may not be up to par, food safety is imperative. Keep foods cold (in the frig or freezer), heat or reheat food very hot to destroy any bacteria, clean your food preparation surfaces, thoroughly wash your dishes in hot water, check the food ratings at any restaurant and don’t be afraid to return any undercooked food. Your health may depend on these measures to keep you safe.
I want to talk about gardening for a moment too. I know not everyone has the space, time or desire to grow their own food but you may want to try. The experts are saying the best way to grow tomatoes is upside down in a moss basket. I do plant a small garden each year. It does take some tending to but I enjoy the results. This year I’m planting sweet snap peas, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, basil and dill. My garlic and green onions are already up and growing from the winter. Every year the conditions and production is different. Just the other day I made goulash with tomatoes from last year and both garlic and freshly cut green onions from my garden. I sure hope that organic growth helps me to metabolize better.
We all enjoy our comfort foods. I know I do. They are often meals that have been with us a lifetime. As one who lives in the present every day, I say enjoy them. I am on another adventure, another journey if you will, toward better eating, keeping active and enjoying life through new food opportunities. They say if you don’t buy it you can’t eat it but my grocery cart has a mind of its own. My bike is out of the basement and ready for inspection, I’ll just have to avoid the soft service ice cream stands this summer. Bona Petite!
What are your stories of diet challenges and successes?
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