Eating Well – Your Weight and Pain
Many people living with pain struggle with their weight. Simply put, it can be difficult to establish and maintain healthful eating and exercise routines when living with the debilitating effects of chronic disease or injury. Extra weight can actually worsen the effects of persistent pain conditions, as well as put people at risk for developing additional complications. Health care providers recommend taking small steps to increase overall health and lose weight.
If you want to lose weight to improve your health, your first step should be to make an appointment with your primary care provider. He or she can help identify reasonable goals, guide you through the process to reach your goals and even recommend a nutritionist or dietitian if necessary.
One way to determine whether you are overweight is to measure your body mass index (BMI). The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, offers a BMI calculator and other tips on managing weight. See https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm for more information.
After meeting with your primary care provider and/or a dietitian visit the grocery store to stock up on fruits and vegetables, whole grains (oatmeal, whole wheat English muffins, brown rice) and lean proteins (skinless chicken breasts, veggie burgers, low-fat cottage cheese). Avoid processed, pre-made, sugary or high-fat foods and snacks. Rule of thumb: look for multi-colored foods that have recently been living.
Jump start your metabolism in the morning with a good breakfast and set a time in the evening when you are DONE eating for the day. If you are still hungry, make yourself a cup of tea to tide you over.
Try to eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day and be sure to include protein with every meal or snack. Many experts recommend eating every three to four hours to keep blood sugar stabilized and minimize the tendency to binge.
Cut back on all drinks other than water, seltzer and skim milk and vegetable juices, and try to use low-calorie alternatives for condiments or dressings whenever possible.
Exercise is the key to healthy – and long-term – weight loss! In addition to helping you lose and maintain weight loss, exercise helps strengthen your joints and bones, lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular endurance.
As always, meet with your health care provider to discuss what your exercise options may be given your pain condition. A physical therapist (PT) may have specific exercises and suggestions for preventing further injury – consider asking your health care provider for a referral to PT. Swimming is an excellent way to exercise without out injuring joints. Walking is another way to improve your health.
Consider joining a gym and hiring a personal trainer to help teach you proper form and technique. Also look into Pilates and yoga classes at a local gym, or even the local YMCA or recreation center. Most qualified instructors have a lot of experience teaching people with physical limitations and can help design a program that suits you and your needs.