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Nutrition for MS fatigue: Tips for planning and preparing healthy meals

Planning and preparing healthy meals can be challenging for anyone. When you have multiple sclerosis (MS), fatigue can be another obstacle preventing you from packing healthy snacks or fixing a home-cooked dinner.

Eating healthy foods can help you fight fatigue and avoid the crash you may experience after eating fast food and sugary drinks. Here are a few tips to make food shopping and cooking more efficient and manageable so that a healthy diet can fit into your lifestyle:

  1. Make a game plan

    Take a few minutes every week to map out some easy dinners for the week. Choose recipes that can be prepared ahead of time, will store well and will produce leftovers that can be packed for the following day’s lunch or repurposed for another meal.

    Brainstorm ....

What is celiac sprue or celiac disease?

An estimated 1.6 million Americans are currently following a gluten free diet, though many have never been diagnosed with celiac sprue (also known as celiac disease).  Patients commonly ask me about celiac sprue and gluten free diets, so I will try to answer some of these questions. The first question I get is what is celiac sprue or celiac disease.

What is celiac sprue?

In celiac sprue, the ingestion of gluten causes inflammatory damage to the lining of the small intestine.   Gluten is a protein, very common in our diet, found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. (Ed. note - see this chart from the NIDDK that shows other ingredients and items that may contain gluten.)  In people with celiac sprue, the usually large absorptive surface of the small intestine is flattened from damage, significantly limiting its ability to absorb nutrients. 

Though celiac sprue is estimated to affect approximately 1.8 million Americans, many are unaware they have the disease. 

What are the symptoms of celiac sprue?

Celiac sprue causes a variety of symptoms.  They can range in intensity from very mild to debilitating.  Some of the most common signs and symptoms are:.

The Real Deal with Omega 3s

It’s that season again! The time when Seattleites will shell out upwards of $30-40 per pound of the magnificent creature we know as the Copper River salmon. What’s so amazing about this humble little fish that keeps us coming back for more?

Fat.

Omega-3 fatty acids, to be precise. Copper River salmon is prized for its high body fat content, which is used to fuel their 300 mile trek to their spawning destinations. Omega-3 fatty acids not only provide delicious, rich flavor but are also essential for human health. These include EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are found almost exclusively in fish. EPA and DHA are labeled “essential” as the human body cannot manufacture them itself therefore they must be derived from our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for vital functions of the human body to promote a longer and healthier life.

EPA fatty acids provide great heart health benefits:

  • Stabilizes abnormal heart rhythms to regular rates
  • Decreases ....

Healthy Mexican Cuisine - Muy nutritivo y delicioso!

Although most Americans celebrated the day of Mexican pride and heritage yesterday, there is no reason to stop the party. To spice up your diet, incorporating the regional dishes of Mexico can offer a range of health benefits and variety to your everyday routine. It is possible to enjoy the fresh Mexican flavors without wrecking your waistline!

Mexican cuisine is much more than the high fat, high calorie gigantic platters of food often served in American style restaurants. The land and seas of Mexico provide a plethora of fruits, vegetables, and heart healthy fishes that are important for good nutritional health.


 
A fast and easy dish you can prepare ahead of time and actually improves as it sits is ceviche. Traditionally...

It’s National Nutrition Month! Eat Right - Your Way, Every Day

March is the month to celebrate healthy eating habits and Registered Dietitians everywhere making an impact on our nation’s nutritional health. Each year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes National Nutrition Month by selecting a theme to support Americans in making informed and sound decisions with their dietary intake. In 2013 the theme is Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.

What does that this mean?

We are each unique individuals with different ethnicities, cultural practices and traditions, food preferences, and health concerns. These factors guide and influence our food choices on a daily basis. There is a common misconception that “eating healthy” means cutting out certain foods or feeling deprived. RD’s recognize that all foods can be healthfully incorporated into a well balanced, daily eating plan within a person’s energy needs.

National Nutrition Month at Swedish

In honor of National Nutrition Month, the Nutrition Services department at First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, and Issaquah has been featuring a nutrition booth in the cafeteria celebrating the health benefits of different country’s cultural cuisines. Swedish Registered Dietitians and Diet Technicians have been present each Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., providing healthful eating tips, handouts, and food samples from the featured country of the week!

The first week of National Nutrition Month highlighted foods from the Philippines. The native dishes displayed were Pompano and pinakbet:

Immune-boosting foods: what you need to know about antioxidants for your health

I felt compelled to write this post primarily because I am exhausted from witnessing those dramatic cold and flu commercials I see everywhere. We all know how to treat a cold or the flu: rest, fluids, and antioxidant rich foods. Yet many of us (I’m guilty, too) reach for Emergen-C thinking that’s all we need and give little (or no) thought to what ‘antioxidant rich’ foods may do to help. So for your health and mine, I’ve highlighted some of those antioxidant-rich foods that should be featured on our plates this season.

First – what are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are nutrients and enzymes that quench free radicals (unstable harmful molecules that are the result of oxidative damage), therefore protecting your cells from damage. Free radicals can do a number on your immune system, thus blunting your ability to respond to a cold. Major antioxidants include Carotenes (beta-carotene), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium & Zinc.

Where can I get or find antioxidants?

Tis The Season for Travel - Travel Food Tips

With the busiest long-distance travel period upon us, and my own upcoming 29 hour flight itinerary, I thought it would be an appropriate time of year to present my two favorite topics as one: travel foods!
Whether you are boarding an airplane or cramming into the car, providing the right fuel for your body can support an enjoyable travel experience and deliver you at your destination feeling energized and (physically) prepared for your visit.

Traveling by air

Nearly 90 million Americans already have digestive issues, so 35,000 feet up is not the time to exacerbate existing disorders or experiment to see if you can contribute to this statistic. Here are some general flight food tips to keep your tummy travelling well.

  • Carbonated drinks. Stomach gases already expand by approximately 30% when you reach flying altitude, hence why downing bubbly beverages can make you feeling like Mr. Clause by the time you are deboarding.
  • Alcohol and caffeine. Sure that Jack and Coke takes the edge off turbulence, but alcohol and caffeinated beverages contribute to dehydration. Besides irritated skin and eyes, this can also put you at greater risk for respiratory infections and DVT (deep vein thrombosis). After clearing security, fill or purchase a water bottle and bring onboard, sipping 8fl oz every hour onboard.
  • Avoid fried, fatty foods before flight. These foods are already taxing on the GI system (fatty foods take longer to digest), but when traveling at even higher altitudes can cause exaggerated complaints of heartburn and acid reflux.
  • Cruciferous vegetables. Wait, did the dietitian just say I don’t need to eat broccoli? These cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage) contain a complex sugar, raffinose, which results in excess gas production in the intestines. Pre-flight is the only time you’ll catch me advising you to stay away from these nutritional powerhouses, as the decrease in cabin pressure results in expansion of stomach gases and a not-so-comfortable traveler. They get the thumbs up the other 360 something other days of the year.
  • Legumes. Skip the chili before you board. Beans have a high raffinose content, and are loaded with difficult to digest soluble fiber.
  • Dairy. Milk and dairy contain lactose, and many of us have a threshold as to how much we can tolerate as we need an adequate amount of the enzyme lactase to breakdown lactose before running into trouble.

Suggestions for in-flight meals:

Traveling by ground

Although you may have the option of stopping during your car trip, it may be smarter to pack your own foods to ensure your tummy remains a happy traveler. For the sake of your car-mates, I would advise avoiding most of the aforementioned flight foods above if you already struggle with these on the ground. I would also emphasize simple, ‘no-assembly required’ foods for car travel. You also have the option of packing a cooler to keep foods safe while en route.

Suggestions for car-trip snacks and meals:

  • Bars (Larabars, Odwalla): Select a bar with at least 3g dietary fiber and 5g protein.
  • Fresh fruit (wash before packing in the car): Avoid those with pits (cherries). Try single serve applesauce.
  • Easy-to-eat veggies: Pre-washed cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, broccoli florets served alongside a thick (no-drip) dip.
  • Yogurt and berry parfait: layer yogurt, fresh berries in traveling cup and seal with a lid).
  • Simple sandwiches: toast bread before adding spread to avoid soggy sandwiches.
  • Wraps: layer hummus, lettuce, veggies and seal in foil or saran wrap.
  • Homemade trail mix: chex mix (or low sugar cereal), toasted nuts, air popped popcorn, dried fruit packed in ziplock.
  • Instead of soda: Water, 100% vegetable or fruit juice (can be cut with seltzer water).

Whether traveling by air or ground, make sure you consider the foods pre-trip to ensure you are as comfortable as possible while traveling this season!

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