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I thought I would share a challenge I’m 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. And, maybe my new challenge will help someone else struggling with a new situation or condition. So, recently, I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. This diagnosis has means that I’ve had to make some lifestyle modifications, especially with my diet.
What is 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. Not everyone experiences all of those symptoms. Unfortunately, I do have all of them.
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 top. The visual on the bottom is a close up, cross-section of the blue portion.
The Effects of Meniere’s
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.
Facing Lifestyle Changes Head On
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.
A Low Sodium Diet
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 low sodium options for all of my recipes (unless they are already low-sodium).
I’ll 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!
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.
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.
New Challenges Mean Adapting
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 Lasagna (linked). It was so good that I added the recipe to the blog.
And, I know I’m going to be okay. There are people who are dealing with much worse. And, my condition isn’t life threatening. I can live without the hearing in one ear. Even in both if I have to.
Are you having challenged in your life recently? Post your comments below 🙂
For more information on Meniere’s Disease: http://vestibular.org/menieres-disease
Curious about Migraines and Meniere’s? Here’s my experience with the Migraine Relief Diet: https://thefeatherednester.com/migraine-relief-plan/