When you live with a chronic health condition, it can be hard to worry about such things as eating a healthy diet. In fact, you’re more likely to rely on comfort eating because your condition gets you down, and you’re looking for a way to cheer yourself up. Eating sweets and snack foods give you a sensation of instant pleasure, but like most short-term rewards, these effects soon wear off. You probably know that comfort eating isn’t going to help in the long run, but how do you motivate yourself to eat a more nutritious diet?
The Effect of Diet on Health
If you think about it, it’s obvious that whatever you eat is going to affect your health, whether you have a chronic condition or not. Your body fuels itself, builds and repairs tissue, and extracts vital micronutrients from the food you eat, so if you’re consuming a lot of food with low nutritional value, your body is going to struggle to get everything it needs to function properly. As a result, your general health will suffer, which in turn makes it harder to manage a chronic condition. With the information we now have about nutrition, it’s possible to adapt any special diet for optimum health, so if you’re a coeliac, or you don’t eat meat, you’ll be able to find advice on how to make sure your diet is healthy and well-balanced. For example, you could adopt a vegan bodybuilding diet, a gluten-free diet, or a dairy-free diet to suit your individual requirements.
How to Eat the Right Diet
If your doctor told you there was a pill you could take that would reduce the severity of your symptoms by thirty to fifty percent, you’d probably be begging for a prescription. Adjusting your diet so that you’re eating healthy, well-balanced, and proportionate meals could have similar effects. The first step is to look at your diet and make the essential changes that will make it healthier, for example, swapping processed foods for whole foods, increasing fruit and vegetable intake, eating less sugar and fat, and eating a wider variety of foods in general. The next step is to find out what dietary changes or supplements have been found to improve health in patients with the same condition as you, and what foods have been shown to make the condition worse. If you look at the research for your condition, you’ll often find that there are links to some kind of dietary deficiency, such as a lack of zinc contributing to neuropathic pain conditions.
Diet is a factor that physical rehabilitation specialists refer to as part of the “total load.” Total load is the combination of all the negative influences in your life that can make your condition worse, for example, stress, poor diet, lack of fluids, irregular sleep patterns and so on. These factors combined create an additional burden for your body that contributes to the strain on your system, leading to worsening symptoms. Diet is one of the critical elements in total load, so making sure you’re eating well will make a significant difference to how you feel.
The Rise of Vegetarian Diets
There are numerous reasons why a huge number of people are now becoming vegetarian. These range from growing awareness and compassion for animals raised for meat and the adverse effects this has on both individual health and that of the environment - to purely financial reasons, as meat prices soar. The COVID-19 Pandemic likely also allowed people the time to think about and research the issues around animal welfare, environmental destruction, and the personal health benefits of cutting down on meat, or eliminating it entirely.
We will not go into the details of vegetaranism here, but there is one area of note that puts people off switching - sweets! It may sound strange but almost all (if not all) mainstream sweets, candy and other confectionary, contain a substantial amount of animal-derived ingredients. Luckily, vegetarian sweets are now available from specialized companies and retailers. So with that somewhat of a curveball out of the way, literally anyone can embrace the vegetarian lifestyle. With many mainstream food brands and supermarkets also now providing excellent and affordable plant-based alternatives to burgers, sausages, and minced meat - there has never been an easier time to join the masses now adopting this life-affirming change in diet.
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