Today I would like to share a fabulous guest post about living with chronic illness! Today’s post is written by Jennifer from JenniferHanway.com! Jennifer is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and has some excellent tips of nutrition and wellness when living with chronic illness!
Let’s turn it over to Jennifer!
4 Nutrition and Wellness Tips for Living with Chronic Illness
1. Cook Healthy Food in Bulk
Due to the nature of chronic illness you are given a limited amount of energy a day, so use that energy to set you up to make healthy choices for when your energy levels dip and you are tempted to reach for more unhealthy options.
Choose easy to make dishes that will keep well in the freezer of refrigerator: chili, soups, stews, oatmeal , etc. Think easy, healthy recipes with 6 ingredients or less so you don’t get overwhelmed. A couple of websites I love for healthy recipe ideas are Nom Nom Paleo and Paleo on a Budget.
It is worth investing in some equipment to make this process easier, and the investment will definitely pay off in the end. I would absolutely recommend a slow cooker or crock pot for easy food preparation, and some glass dishes for safe storage too.
2. Drink Your Breakfast
Smoothies are a great way to get a wonderful burst of nutrition in one hit! They are super easy to make, and can really set you on the right track for a healthy day.
Start with a protein base, I’m a big fan of vegan proteins such as pea, rice or hemp (stay away from soy), and a natural flavor such as vanilla is usually a good option as a base. You can use water, nut milk or TigerNut milk for the liquid, and then the world is your oyster with the other ingredients!
Consider avocado for healthy fats, banana for a great taste and texture, berries for colour and antioxidants, and green leafy veggies for extra vitamins, minerals and fiber (don’t worry, you won’t taste them).
In addition a powder made from 40 + fruit and veggies will give you an extra nutrient boost (my favourite is Espresso Wellness Greens from The Poliquin Group), or choose something like a maca powder for energy, or cacao for its antioxidants (and it tastes like chocolate).
3. Reducing Inflammation is Key
Studies show that inflammation is at the root of most, if not all disease, so for those with chronic illness reducing inflammation can play a huge role in both reducing symptoms and stopping the illness from progressing.
There are many dietary strategies we can implement to help reduce inflammation such as:
- Limiting processed foods.
- Aiming for 8-9 servings of fruit or vegetables a day.
- Eliminating foods from the nightshade family – these include: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers and chilis.
- Introducing inflammation reducing foods such as green leafy vegetables, Omega 3 rich fish (salmon, mackerel), fruits such as blueberries and raspberries, and spices such as turmeric and cinnamon.
- Reducing coffee intake or or choosing a lower acid, organic version such as Puroast.
4. Improve Your Quality of Sleep
With chronic illness it is important to distinguish between times of no energy, rest time and quality sleep. Getting great quality sleep is imperative for those with chronic illness as this is the time our bodies heal and repair. Great sleep starts from the moment you wake up, elevated cortisol levels (the stress hormone) are one of the reasons sleep can be disturbed, and we need to have an awareness of how to reduce these levels throughout the day, not just in the evening:
- Getting out in the daylight will help to normalize your circadian rhythms. By taking just a 10-15 minute walk outside at lunchtime you can normalize your circadian rhythm, letting your body know it is time to ‘wind down’ when the sun goes down.
- Ensure adequate magnesium levels: due to our modern diets and extra environmental stresses the majority of us are magnesium deficient. Magnesium is needed in over 300 metabolic processes in the body, and is vital for ensuring a restful night’s sleep. I recommend using both a magnesium supplement and a topical magnesium cream or spray.
- Introduce a caffeine curfew: for me this time is 3.30pm, for others it may be later or earlier, depending on your tolerance for caffeine. If you find your mind racing the minute you close your eyes start moving your caffeine curfew back by half an hour to see if it helps. One of my favorite alternatives is the caffeine free Turmeric tea from Numi Organics.
- Bring down artificial light during after sunset. If you need to use your technology in the evenings you can download an app called f.lux that brings down the blue light on your cellphone and laptop, reducing its impact.
- Evening meal: a mixture of complex carbohydrates, protein and veggies is perfect for dinner, a great protein option is turkey as it contains the amino acid L-Tryptophan which aids restful sleep. Try not to eat dinner any later than 8pm, or 2 hours prior to going to bed.
- Sleep in a cool, dark room. Ensure no light coming in from outside, and no light from any displays in the room. Blackout curtains and/or an eye mask can make a huge difference, as can silicone ear plugs. Ideally, leave your phone switched off and out of the bedroom. If using it as an alarm clock switch the wifi off and set it to airplane mode. Turn off all other wifi in the house.
I hope you have found these tips for living with chronic illness to be helpful! Which tips will you implement?
Jennifer Hanway is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant, Bio Signature Modulation Practitioner Certified Personal Trainer and Writer/Speaker based in Boston, MA.