Published: 20/03/2022 Tags: The Ehlers-Danlos Society News

Building your nutrition toolkit

Thank you to Lorna Ryan for sharing top tips and information throughout this week talking about nutrition and hydration! Today’s final topic is building a nutrition toolkit. #NutritionandHydrationWeek⁠

The following information should not constitute medical advice, dietary advice, or treatment. Individuals should consult a healthcare professional before making changes to their nutritional plan. 

“A nutrition toolkit is good for managing your under-par days. Under-par days being maybe you’re more fatigued, maybe you really don’t feel well, maybe you’re in a lot of pain or you’re having a bit of a flare-up from POTS symptoms. Whatever that means to you, what do you do? It’s good to know that there are a few go-to’s to make your life a bit easier. 

Remember that yes, we want to nourish you every day, but it’s hydration that is the important thing. Your body needs hydration every day whereby you can actually get by without one or two days of food. 

Let’s prioritize your proteins and your carbohydrates. If you’re not very hungry, just get something in that’s a carbohydrate and a protein. You can use a blender or a juicer to make easy, digestible foods and you can have batch-cooked meals, smoothies, juices, and soup stocks ready to go. You may have heard about batch cooking, it’s not a new thing. However, there are a few little tips for that. 

If you make your smoothies, in that one smoothie you can have some carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and obviously, you’ve got the liquid as well for hydration – put it into an ice lolly mold. Then you’ve just got a lovely smoothie ice lolly that does not take much energy just to sort of consume down. 

Juices can be put into large ice cube trays which makes it easy to pop out and just defrost and drink down. Again, you’re looking for a shot glass worth of juice, not like a pint glass. Keep a store of certain things like frozen peas, grapes, kiwis, et cetera. They are great to increase your hydration and just open your mouth to consume. 

There is nothing wrong with having tinned goods like beans, soups, and vegetables. Yes, we want fresh produce, but if you’re not feeling well sometimes that’s too much to manage. They will suffice for when you don’t feel well. 

Have a few go-to whole food powders. There are some vegetable powders, protein powders which could be your whey or your soya, and then some brown rice powders too. Make sure that they are whole food powders, not juiced powders because then you will be getting some fiber in there as well. You can just add the powders to some smoothies and soups or just mix with water just for some nourishment. 

My final point here is to be kind to yourself and to remember that nutrition for health is the long game. On a Monday if you’re not feeling well, that’s not so good but know that you can catch up Thursday, Friday, Saturday and just do what you can do. Just remember to be kind and have your hydration sources and pick up really excellent nutritional sources when you feel better to do so. 

Nutrition can be and should be quite simple. This week we’ve gone through the very basics but that can also be some drug-nutrient interactions which are very important to talk to your medical doctor or pharmacist if you take prescription medications. Continue to follow any specific advice from your doctor, nutritionist, or dietician. That might be if they’ve suggested to you a supervised diet like no fiber FODMAP, low histamine, please continue to follow that regardless of what foods I’ve discussed here. Discuss any nutritional changes with your healthcare team. This is important because if you do have symptoms with EDS or HSD, yes, increasing the variety of foods you have focusing on maybe better nutrition is wonderful but there will be a process of your body getting used to things. And we absolutely don’t want to make any of your symptoms worse. We want to make sure that you’re being monitored and kept safe by your healthcare team. 

Make nutritional changes slowly. Now I add this in about the bowel changes. Nutritional changes may commonly lead to bowel changes which is how often you poop. This is because if you do start to widen up the food choices you have, for example, swapping a packet of crisps for sodium, two, those capers or olives and broccoli sprouts, you will be increasing fiber. If your digestive system can cope with that, that’s great. The increase of fiber may lead you to have more, either more bowel changes and more solid stools. And so this is perfectly fine, nothing to worry about and it’s just good for you to know.

Lastly, enjoy the food you’re able to enjoy. I know many of you out there may be on a more restricted diet than the rainbow of foods. You may feel that some foods don’t suit you but focus on what foods you can eat and really enjoy those.”

Watch Lorna’s talk on nutrition and hydration now, in full, here.

Lorna Ryan is a Registered Clinical Nutritionist/Nutritional Therapy, and Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner who has a clinical practice based in London, UK, and online internationally. Lorna is the Chair of the Diet and Nutrition Working Group of the International Consortium on the Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes (EDS) and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders. 

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