All my life, I’ve been very lucky not to be burdened with food and eating problems. For a brief period as a young teen, I watched what I ate due to body dysmorphia, but it never was extreme. Thanks to my mom’s healthy eating habits and the fact that I am unable to arrange my own meals, it was easy to maintain a decent weight. That is, until I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve suffered from pain in my knees. It’s not a constant, sharp pain, but rather more of an occasional dull ache that grows over time. Gradually, it increases and makes me want to clench my jaw. The episodes started appearing more frequently, a few times a week, as I neared the end of puberty, so it became clear that these weren’t growing pains. I brought the topic up with my orthopedic specialist, and he referred me to a rheumatologist. My new doctor decided to prescribe Lyrica (pregabalin).
The next week was an unusual one. Suddenly, I had intense cravings. I would sit in front of the television drooling at every Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial. That’s when I knew the medication was affecting my appetite. Never before had I felt like food tortured me until that day. My eating habits flipped 180 degrees.
Previously when eating a meal, I stopped just before I began to feel full. I didn’t force myself to eat this way, it just happened. Now, it takes all my willpower to stop eating until my heart’s content. I watched the scale as the pounds quickly piled on. As soon as possible, I requested a lower dose of Lyrica.
Because I now have a boyfriend and go to more places without my parents, I’ve had to learn how and what to eat. Will, my boyfriend, is not the healthiest eater. It can be hard not to fall into the same eating habits as his. It’s a daily struggle.
I don’t really believe in dieting. Sweets and fried food are fine in moderation. Cutting out these super-luscious items altogether can result in an inevitable relapse. Ultimately, this causes one to revert back to bad habits of eating unhealthily.
If I have eaten, or plan to eat, something more delectable during the day, my solution is to cut back on my remaining meals.
Because I eat relatively late in the mornings, I almost always eat a small lunch. My go-to for a low-calorie lunch is a cup and a half of popcorn and a Yoplait. I know it sounds crazy, but it works. Popcorn is a good source of fiber, and the yogurt contains a lot of protein. It rounds out to be roughly 210 calories.
Whenever Will and I go out to eat, I try to keep in mind my mom’s sage advice. Such as: “The first few bites of something are always the best.” And: “If what you’re eating is too large, eat half.”
I’ve also learned from her that every once in a while, it’s OK to have dessert as a meal. There are far fewer calories involved without an entire entrée added on.
Having a chronic illness makes me prioritize quality of life. Sometimes that quality of life is a bowl of ice cream. It’s not part of my agenda to cut these things out of my life completely. However, it is a goal of mine to improve how I eat.
I may have a chronic illness, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be healthy in other ways.
If you have any difficulties with food and weight,or have any tips for eating healthily, please share in the comments below.
Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.