Jul 4, 2016

Foods: The Dirty Dozen and More for Post-Stroke Survivors, aka All You Need Is "My Fitness Pal"

Go ahead, stroke survivors. Eat those to-die-for doughnuts, have yourself another salty bag of chips, drink yet a fifth glass of wine. But don't expect to be healthy if you do any one of those things in excess.

The Dirty Dozen: Foods Stroke Survivors Should Avoid was written by Sharon Maguire, a nurse at BrightStar Care, an agency that provides help for little ones as well as seniors in all but a handful of states. The article was published by Stroke-Network.com because post-stroke people should, as the title suggests, avoid the following. 

Maguire says:

1. Red meat:
It’s important to decrease fat intake following a stroke. Opt instead for lean proteins such as chicken breast or turkey burgers.

2. Whole dairy products:
High-fat milk products such as 2 percent or whole milk and full-fat cheese should be avoided. Make the switch to skim or opt and low-fat cream cheese and dairy products.

3. Butter replacements:
Some so-called ‘healthy’ foods can be high in trans-fats, such as butter replacements and margarines. They might have a lower calorie count, but that doesn’t mean that they are good for you.

4. Processed foods:
Processed foods such as frozen meals are often high in sodium (a big no-no for stroke recovery patients). Go for fresh meals whenever possible.

5. Salty snacks:
Avoid salty junk foods like pretzels to help limit your sodium intake.

6. Donuts and pastries:
Bakery goods are delicious, but not only are they often highly processed, they also are high in fat and made with rich dairy products. Swap out these items for sweet and delicious fruit items such as a light sorbet or fresh berries.

7. Fried chicken:
When selecting lean proteins, remember that it is still important to avoid eating the skin and not to go for the dark, fatty cuts. Think lean and light.

8. Whole eggs:
Eggs can be a healthy part of your diet, but they can also be high in cholesterol. To enjoy eggs in a healthy way, simply swap out the yolk for egg whites. For example, instead of having a fried egg sandwich with hash browns, go for an egg-white omelet stuffed with veggies with a side of fruit and whole-wheat toast.

9. French fries:
It’s also good to avoid foods that are cooked in oil. Instead, opt for foods that are baked or broiled. Remember, if it has the word “fried” in the description, it’s not a healthy option.

10. Lunch meat:
Some foods that seem light and healthy are actually quite high in sodium, such as lunch meat. Instead of lunch meat,  consider a light lunch option like salad, yogurt, or a veggie wrap. Or opt for a reduced sodium variety.

11. Ranch dressing:
Speaking of salad, remember that not all salad dressings are created equal. Look for salad dressings that are low in fat and calories, such as a light raspberry vinaigrette. A simple balsamic vinaigrette with olive oil and balsamic vinegar is easy to make and delicious as well.

12. Alcohol:
Be sure to ask your doctor about guidelines for alcohol consumption. He may suggest that you avoid it all together or that you only enjoy it in moderation.

I have a few more to add to the list. Cranberry and grapefruit "anything" or green tea or uneven or excess weekly levels of vitamin K (http://www.coumadin.bmscustomerconnect.com/servlet/servlet.FileDownload?file=00Pi000000bxvTFEAY) can make your INR (International Normalized Ratio), go off the charts. The INR is a blood test often given to stroke survivors to avoid clots (low INR) or bleeding (high INR). Check with your doctor for the right levels you should achieve with your INR.

But if you don't want to memorize the "Dirty Dozen," [My God! Who would!] you can go to your Apps Store and get, free of charge, My Fitness Pal (MFP).

Here's how it works: You choose what you want to lose, based on a 1200-calorie diet, and how fast you want to shed those unwanted pounds. I chose 50 pounds--2 pounds weekly--by October, taking me down to a size 8, the dress size of yore--eons of yore.

The creator of MFP, Mike Lee, doesn't want you to lose too fast because studies show if you lose too quickly, you'll regain it in a short time. So Lee bases all of that on a 1200-calorie intake. Exercise counts, too. (I do the recumbent bike for 45 minutes giving me more calories for the day). Food intake subtracts; exercise adds to what you're allowed to eat. Every thing is there by brand name, and yes, even McDonalds!

When I first started, I was out of calories by dinner because of 2 bagels loaded with cream cheese, 2 servings of pasta primavera, and a snack of 10 Oreo cookies. So, with all that fattening food literally staring me in the face, I learned to eat healthy stuff and more of it, too, like big salads with fat-free dressing (200 calories), white meat chicken breast (3 ounces at 100 calories), and most vegetables and fruits (at most, 100 calories per cup). Sometimes, I am so full that I can't even eat all 1200 calories. If I exercise, 1200+!

That's the things. A diary of food intake really makes a difference. When I record my food and exercises for the day, and I lose weight, I am rewarded by getting healthier. You won't eat or drink the "dirty dozen" because it makes sense to not.

You know what started all this weight loss stuff? Sitting on a shower chair, I had to cross my legs in the shower to wash my feet and couldn't, plus I couldn't get off the sofa in one motion. I knew it was time. Heavier people move much slower. Do you know who said that? Mostly everybody!

So how much did I lose so far? I lost 14 pounds in almost 7 weeks. Right on schedule! Let me know how it's working for you! I'll keep you updated, too.