New Challenges To Face?? Bring Them On!

I thought I would share a challenge I am facing. We all face challenges in life and they’ve ultimately helped make us into who we are today. Stronger, wiser, smarter, and more adaptive.

Recently, I was diagnosed with Ménière’s (or Meniere’s) Disease.

I’d never heard of Meniere’s Disease until about two months ago. It is a chronic, incurable vestibular (inner ear) disorder that causes episodes in which you feel as if you’re spinning (vertigo), fluctuating hearing loss with a progressive, permanent loss of hearing, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and fullness or pressure in your ear.

The disease is rare, affecting only .2% of the population. I’ve actually had symptoms of Meniere’s for a year, but it wasn’t until early April – after our Caribbean cruise – that my symptoms became acute.

Here are two visuals. Your ear and auditory system is on the left. The visual on the right is a close up, cross-section of the blue portion on the left.

Challenges

The Effects of Meniere’s

Changes

The diagnosis required me to make immediate lifestyle and dietary changes. I adopted a low-sodium diet (less than 1500 mg of sodium a day) and eliminated caffeine and alcohol. Whether I’ll be able to enjoy my usual glass of wine is up in the air. When my symptoms are manageable, I’ll be able see if it affects my symptoms. I also have to carefully monitor my water and potassium intake due to the diuretic I am taking.

I’m Still Gonna Be Me!

The reason I’m going into all this is twofold. The first, is to be real with what is going on with me and my life. When we see people’s blogs it often appears that they have the perfect life. I certainly don’t. But I do love my life, even with this curveball I’ve been thrown.

The second is that the recipes I’ll be posting going forward will be a little different from what I’ve posted before. I will be adding a lower-sodium option for all of my recipes (unless they are already low-sodium). I’ll need to tweak some of my favorite foods, like pizza, to find a way to make them lower in sodium. Maybe I’ll have to settle for veggie pizza, without cheese? Cheese has a lot of sodium. In fact, reading nutrition labels and studying restaurant nutrition facts is mind-blowing. Many restaurant meals have over 2500 mg of sodium!

Wait..That Means No Coffee?!

Giving up caffeine was hard. I treasured my morning cup of coffee. Now, I usually have a cup of herbal tea. A few months ago, I discovered Great Earth’s Sweet & Spicy tea and I’m obsessed with it! It’s so good, caffeine free, and doesn’t contains any sugar. It reminds me Fireball, except it’s alcohol-free. It makes a great iced tea, too.

Another challenge with my new diet is finding low-sodium and no added salt foods. Have you ever looked at the sodium content in canned foods? Sheesh. I’ve been pleased to find many no-salt canned foods. Especially black beans, white beans, and pinto beans. They’re high in potassium, which is essential to my new diet.

I also need to spread out my minimal sodium consumption throughout the day. That is something I have to keep in mind when meal planning.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Last weekend, I cleaned out my pantry and fridge. Out went the sodium-filled canned goods in my pantry. I replaced them with my new, no-salt added ones. That night, I made awesome lower-sodium Italian Sausage Spaghetti. I don’t know exactly how much sodium was in the Italian sausage because I bought it at our local university’s farm store.

For the recipe, I used the sausage, Pomi tomatoes, dried Italian seasoning, garlic, two tablespoons of double-strength tomato paste, and a cup of water to make the spaghetti sauce. I let it simmer on the stove for almost 3 hours. Then I added in some gluten-free noodles and we had a great dinner. I skipped making garlic bread. There’s a lot of sodium in bread and I knew there was already some in the Italian sausage. I felt it was a good trade-off.

For more information on Meniere’s Disease: http://vestibular.org/menieres-disease

Are you having challenged in your life recently? Post your comments below 🙂