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Healthy Eating While Living with Young Onset Parkinson's

04/16/2024 12:25 PM | Anonymous

Living with Young Onset Parkinson's (YOPD) throws a lot at you. For many of us we are juggling raising a family, working, and dealing with the ins and outs of Parkinson’s. Making sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet can seem like an added burden - however, the benefits, both physically and mentally, of eating healthy are worth the investment. 

Why Food Matters for YOPD 

The food you choose is the fuel that keeps your body running smoothly.  Eating a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients can help manage symptoms like constipation, tremors, and fatigue, all while giving you the strength and energy  to take on the day. 

Power Up Your Plate 

Here are some key dietary strategies to help you live well with YOPD: 

  • Befriend Fiber: Fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains keep you feeling fuller for longer and promote gut health, which can help with constipation – a common YOPD struggle. 
  • Hydration Hero: Aim for 6-8 glasses of water daily. Staying hydrated helps your body absorb nutrients and function at its best.  
  • Bonus tip: Warm water in the morning can help stimulate your bowels. 
  • Antioxidant All-Stars: Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants that protect your brain cells. Think berries, leafy greens, and anything orange or red! 
  • Fuel Your Moves:Don't underestimate the power of protein! Lean protein sources like fish, chicken, and beans provide essential building blocks for muscle strength, which can be especially important as you manage YOPD. 
  • Healthy Fats for the Win:Don't fear all fats! Healthy fats from sources like olive oil, nuts, and avocados can help with nutrient absorption and may even offer some neuroprotective benefits. 
  • Sugar Blues? Limit sugary drinks and processed foods. They can worsen tremors and interfere with medication absorption. 

Tips to Make Eating Easier 

Swallowing difficulties and tremors can make mealtime frustrating. Here are some hacks to keep things smooth: 

  • Thicken liquids with thickening agents to make swallowing easier. 
  • Chop food into bite-sized pieces 
  • Weighted Utensils can help with mitigating tremors while eating 

Beyond the Plate: Working with Your Meds 

Remember, timing your meals strategically can make a big difference.  Certain medications for Parkinson's can interact with food, so talking to your doctor about the best time to eat relative to your medication schedule is crucial. 

A registered dietitian can create a personalized meal plan to address your specific needs.  Discuss any vitamin or mineral deficiencies with your doctor to ensure you're getting the right nutrients. 

Join the YOPN Community 

Living with YOPD can feel isolating, but you don't have to go it alone. The Young Onset Parkinson's Network (YOPN) is a fantastic resource for support, connection, and a wealth of information on managing all aspects of YOPD, including nutrition.  Join us and connect with a community that understands your journey! 

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