Firstly, where to begin with diet changes? It can be complicated, and have a big impact on your health, sometimes good, but sometimes not so good. I’m going to share my journey and some hidradenitis suppurativa diet tips with you. When I was 16, I became a vegetarian and at 27, I still am. A few years ago, I subsequently decided to go vegan. Spurred on by my success with vegetarianism, after that, I went headfirst into a plant-based diet and I became quite ill.
So Lets Get Started.
I am certainly not a dietitian. That is to say, there were factors that I had not considered. And I assumed that will power alone would be enough. I certainly don’t believe veganism is unhealthy. My ad hoc version, on the other hand, was not a true representation of veganism.
After I was diagnosed with Hidradenitis Suppurativa, I subequently decided to replace dairy. I am, again so happy to say my diet is still dairy-free. The difference this time was preparation. I have succeeded at changing my diet but I have also failed at times. Now I am imparting my knowledge on to you.
So here are four things you need to consider before changing your diet – my hidradenitis suppurativa diet tips!
Firstly, Don’t try to do everything at once.
My first instinct was to give up any food that might certainly trigger a flare-up. That’s a natural reaction but unhelpful. Because if we make diet decisions from a place of fear, food becomes dangerous in our minds which is unhealthy. For instance I didn’t know which foods triggered my flare-ups and which didn’t. If I gave up too many at once, I’d never know. So I decided to give up dairy and watch my condition for three months. I haven’t needed to adjust it since.
Remember your Vitamins and Minerals
Lots of people forget about vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are the unsung heroes of our diets. And so these little health machines are essential for our bodies. According to Harvard Medical School, they help us convert food into energy, keep skin and hair healthy and so much more. And deficiencies can cause health problems like anaemia and even damage to bones.
No two people are the same and a search engine is not an expert. Your doctor, dietitian or specialist can help you make the best decisions for your body. They are best placed to help you understand how vitamins and minerals work. So, if you have concerns, talk to them so you can reach your goals sustainably.
Learn to cook
Most people can cook to a degree. Simple, traditional recipes from home or ready meals are staples. However, when you have a special dietary need, cooking isn’t the same. For instance, gluten-free flour may need preparation and doesn’t taste the same. Some replacements are also quite expensive.
A tip on plant-based recipes online. It is my experience that they often require a lot of hard to get ingredients and can be costly. Instead, look for general recipes and replace the ingredients you want to avoid.
Preparing your own meals can be easy and cost-effective. So, you are more likely to choose healthy options. It’s a lot easier to consider all your nutrients when you cook your own meals. As well as that, it’s fun because it allows you to try new things and discover new tastes.
The area you live in and your budget may be factors in the dietary decisions you make. Not everyone has access to the same kinds or quality of food. But the key I have found is to keep as much the same as possible.
Spend some time before you go shopping to plan what you will eat for the week. Try to buy ingredients rather than ready meals. And look for the flavours you know you like so you can plan your meals around them. Remember, if you give up meat, there’s no reason the herbs and spices you use need to change. You are more likely to feel discouraged if you change too much at once.
Prepare your meals for a few days so all you must do is reheat them when needed. You can freeze some recipes for later, but others will only last for a few days in the fridge. This is a super convenient way of making sure you have everything you need.
I like meal planning because it takes the hassle out of preparing your meals every day. When I gave up dairy last year, I had assumed that I ate very little dairy. But what I hadn’t considered is that so many products I buy contain milk as a small ingredient. It seemed like there was nothing I could eat. Sitting down and planning my meals and recipes has been a lifesaver. Now I don’t have to think about it, I know what I can eat.
The final thing you need to plan is the food you don’t prepare. If you like to eat out, include that in your research. Knowing where the best alternative meals are served reduces the stress of going out.
If you have any concerns about designing your diet, talk to a medical professional. They will be happy to provide advice.
Don’t Look Back
I have never regretted the changes I’ve made to my diet. I won’t lie, it is difficult but it’s also freeing to be able to make decisions and act for my body. You must be careful though, that you are taking appropriate actions that benefit and not hurt you. Otherwise, does it matter if your problems are HS or malnutrition? Whatever you decide to do, do it in a way that does the best for your body. My long-term goal is to go back to veganism, but I know I am not ready for that yet.
If you decide that making changes to your diet is in your best interests, HidraWear can help. You can get access to the free 7 Day HS Diet Kickstart eBook and hidradenitis suppurativa diet tips when you register to download.
The eBook contains recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. As well as that, the recipes are simple and use a lot of the same ingredients. So, your shopping doesn’t cost the same as a weekend away. Most importantly, they are good for you. Check it out here.
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About the Author
Shannon Sweeney is a psychology and sociology student from Ireland. She is also living with HS and therefore has a keen interest in lifestyle, wellbeing, and Hidradenitis Suppurativa.