How I See It: Made with Love
One of my favorite ways to spend an evening is surrounded by my friends and family sitting at the dinner table. There is nothing better than eating great food and having great conversation. Having a European mother, I was never hungry. She makes everything and anything. If you know my mom, you know that when she cooks, she cooks to feed ten or more.
So I grew up eating nothing but amazing and great food. When I moved out on my own during my university days I tried to take some of my moms cooking lessons with me. But we all know life can get a little busy sometimes and it’s easy to grab snacks out of our bags or finish that half eaten sandwich for dinner.
After being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, I really had to step back for a moment. I loved sweets and anything else that wasn’t good for you. Chocolate, chips, candy… One of my favorite things about moving out was that I could eat a chocolate bar before dinner and never get in trouble. But now I had a medical condition and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing anything to my body that was affecting my health. We are what we eat right?
Eating healthy was so hard to do in the beginning! I am still learning every day what is good for you and what isn’t. I have found that when I eat better, I have a lot more energy and my body works better. Here a few little tips that I live by. Hope you enjoy them!
Every. Single. Morning. I am not even kidding. I have a cup of warm water with a few slices of ginger. It has amazing benefits against cancer, but it is also an anti-inflammatory; the main reason I take it is for the reduction of muscle pain caused by exercising. It has also helped me a lot with arm function, pain level, and inflammation.
I have a pop once in a while, usually on the weekend to treat myself – but other than that I go through about two bottles of water a day. It’s so important to drink water; I could write pages upon pages on the benefits. Muscle wise, if muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work well. Cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, which causes our muscles to feel “tired.”
Another thing I love to drink is a hot cup of water with lemon. Lemon is super good for you and protects your body against immune system deficiencies. When I get sick, I really really get sick. My body can’t fight off a cold as easily as everyone else and sometimes getting the flu means immediate doctor attention. Lemon and ginger have a lot of fight in them and are very beneficial for colon health and serve as a powerful antibacterial. Lemons also reduce pain and inflammation in joints, among a million other things.
We all know if your not moving around a lot, maybe eating foods that aren’t easy to digest, it can cause some serious problems. Over the years, I have become more and more aware of just how important probiotics are. Yogurt is not my favorite thing to eat so I have had to do a lot of research with trying to find what I could replace with yogurt as a probiotic. Of course, fiber is probably the first thing that comes to mind. I do buy a lot of fiber and mix it in with my smoothies, muffins, and oatmeal. Another one is Aloe Vera gel. I’m going to warn you it doesn’t taste that great at all but it is a natural probiotic. I also have probiotic supplements that I take occasionally.
Fruit & Vegetables
Anywhere I can eat vegetables, I will. I recently stopped eating mashed potatoes and replaced it with mashed cauliflower (tastes just as good!). I am not going to say I’m a vegetarian at this point, but eventually I would love to cut red meat out of my diet completely. Vegetables just give me a lot more energy and I feel better eating it. I make smoothies packed with fruit and vegetables a few times a week. Whenever I finish a work out, I usually juice some fruit and vegetables up. My favorite – ginger, carrot, and orange.
Now I know almost anyone is going to tell you to get your vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat, and not by taking a vitamin. But I really like taking a supplement. One of the greatest benefits with seeing doctors and specialists on the daily is that I get to ask a lot of questions (they love me for it, I swear). With multi-vitamins some people can get really confused. Some people think that if you take a vitamin or supplement it means your getting the nutrition that you need. But that’s not true at all! For example, lets say you take Vitamin C daily. You probably think, well I took my Vitamin C now I don’t have to eat an orange or anything. What my doctors have told me is that a supplement should be taken in addition to, not instead of.
Whole grains can be tricky because sometimes we think we are eating better by grabbing the brown bread instead of the white, but always read labels! A lot of brown breads contain more sugar than white which makes it not that much healthier, sometimes worse, for you. When it comes to whole grains, I try and grab more oats, barley, and quinoa. Barley has way more protein and fiber than pasta and is so good in soups and stews. Oats I cook in oatmeal and muffins; rolled oats are best because instant oats have less fiber and don’t really have a lot of taste to them. Quinoa is what I survived off of in university. It cooks super fast and has tons of protein. I think the reason I had so much energy hauling textbooks and trekking through the snow was because of what I ate.
We all love snacks and I think I snack a little more than normal. My favorite snacks I keep in my workbag or when I’m traveling are almonds, carrot and celery sticks, apples, cucumbers, and a ready to go smoothie made with almond milk (I also make my own almond milk- so easy!). Hummus is also something I put on everything! Whether it be dipping for vegetables or spread on some pita bread.
Sugar is my weakness. I’d rather eat a dozen cupcakes than a plate of yam fries. The more you eat it, the more you want it. I can write a lot about sugar but I am going to keep it straightforward for you. Always read the label and stay away from things like aspartame, splenda, high-fructose corn syrup, and agave. Google anyone of those and you will see why to avoid them. Eating aspartame especially can worsen chronic illnesses in many ways. You might think by picking up something that says 0% sugar it’s healthy – no, no, and no. If its got no sugar, its got an aspartame party going on in there. Stay away! Also, if you love pancakes as much as me you probably load on the maple syrup. Always read the label and make sure its 100% real! Brands like Aunt Jemima are NOT real syrup. It’s just cornstarch with a bit of food coloring; in other words pure poison.
I hope you continue to learn and understand what you are putting in your body. I read labels on everything I buy, I talk to my doctor, and I am always doing research from reliable sources. I love food and I love to eat. I think I follow more bakeries than I do friends on Instagram. I would be lying if I said I don’t have a cheat food here or there, but I am always cautious with what I have. My healthy eating isn’t to lose weight or join some kind of club. I do it because I have to. This is the only body I have and it’s struggling. It’s fighting for me all day, everyday. I want to treat it the best way I can. I don’t want to overwork it or feed it foods that will make my insides scream. I hope by reading this you are inspired to do the same.
Ivana was born in Sanski Most, Bosnia & Herzegovina but moved to Canada at the age of three. She was diagnosed with LGMD a few years ago and it has forever changed her life. She is a regular contributor and her blogs will be everything she has learned along the way and what she continues to learn today. Read Ivana’s personal blog at: https://milarosa6.wordpress.com/