Pay attention to these three things when a painful injury or chronic condition has made you inactive.
Eating right while trying to heal from an injury can be tough. With an injury, people often experience pain, discomfort, and changes in sleeping, eating and activity routines. After injuring my leg swimming, I had to adjust my eating habits from eating whatever I wanted and always having a healthy appetite to making sure I was getting the correct amount of vitamins, carbs and proteins while battling a loss in appetite due to the chronic pain in my leg. After going from exercising every day for at least three hours, to zero exercise and barely even walking anywhere, I gained about twenty pounds. This weight gain was partly due to inactivity, and mostly due to a poor diet.
The problem, I realized, wasn’t completely my lack of exercise, but primarily my inconsistent and minimal appetite. When I would finally get hungry, I craved my comfort and junk foods, nothing that was actually helping me heal or feel better. Eating right is a daily battle due to my constant leg pain masking any form of hunger. After recognizing the problem I began to work a lot harder at monitoring my diet, assuring I get enough of these three things every day:
Proteins: Since my appetite is minimal, heavy foods such as steak or burgers aren’t often a craving I have. Realizing that I was avoiding heavy foods that contained most of the protein I needed to heal, I began to look at easier, lighter food options that have a lot of protein. Some of my favorite easy to eat protein-filled foods includes fish, chicken, and hard-boiled eggs.
Vitamins: Since they play a major role in daily function and healing, I had to make sure I was getting enough vitamins in my daily diet. So, I began to eat a lot of fruits and smoothies which are always easy to eat. Additionally, on the days when I truly had no appetite due to pain I would drink a dietary supplement shake such as Ensure.
Carbs: These are needed to help digest proteins to promote healing; if not enough carbohydrates are consumed the body will use the proteins for fuel instead of healing. Talking with my doctor about what sort of carbohydrate foods are healthy and easy on the stomach (whole grains, fruits, veggies, and legumes like potatoes or beans) really helped me learn how to balance my diet.
Check back next time to learn about getting active again after an injury.