And, as if ‘unfair’ weight gain (as I see it in these circumstances!) isn’t bad enough in itself, Prednisolone often causes the redistribution of fat, which makes any amount weight gain even less tolerable. The weight gain from Prednisolone tends to be located in the face (‘moonface’), back of the neck (‘buffalo hump’), and the abdomen (‘truncal obesity’). Aren’t these very words alone enough to make you cry!? To give an idea I have showed a ‘before’ (left) and ‘after’ shot (right) to demonstrate a bit of my moonface, but to be honest, I was reluctant to have too many photos taken when things were at their worst!
I continue to struggle, but have so far been relatively successful at keeping my weight down, although there are times when things have been worse than others in this department. Still, here follows the best advice I can give that has so far helped me.
- Firstly, Coldplay have it right when they croon “♪♪ nobody said that it was easy ♪”. It’s not. I guess this applies to many things in life, but certainly when it comes to trying to keep a waistline when you’re on steroids. So really that is the first lesson. If you want to keep your weight down, it is something that you have to permanently be aware of and act accordingly to avoid it.
- Then there is the obvious stuff: exercise and healthy diet. Obviously don’t go on a diet. They never work, at least not long term. Just make your personal diet a healthy diet. I don’t really need to spell it out as you’ll have heard it a hundred times before, but just in case I’m talking about basing it on, fruit, veg, beans, fish, rice, noodles, pasta, lean meat, tofu and lots of wholemeal stuff. Of course the odd blow-out and occasional treat here and there is a definite must, but rarity only heightens the enjoyment.
- And then there is my mantra: breakfast, breakfast, breakfast and especially anything with oats. I’ve said it before; I’ve just said it again. I won’t bore you any more with this
- No one wants a boring diet and I reckon the key to eating healthily but exceedingly tastily is to ‘chop till you drop’. Odd as it first sounds, if you learn to enjoy chopping it helps enormously, because once it is done you can make delicious food that is not only tasty, but not too bad for the waistline. Then if you find you need to eat a mountain, it doesn’t have quite such visible consequences. The chopping bit used to be what put me off cooking proper food and turn to quicker less healthy options. Weirdly enough, I’ve crossed the pain barrier and now I actually find it relaxing. If I sit and chop herbs, peel and slice veggies and fruit, grate lemon zest, ginger and nutmeg, mix bowls of homemade treats to the doldrums of my favourite music or radio shows I find a kind of inner ‘chi’ (one of the first pieces of key advice at the beginning of this whole Living Well with Lupus thing that you need to find your inner-hippy!)
- Someone in our research told us that if you have problems with arthritic hands (something I am grateful to have recovered from now but I had it for a while) there are implements to help with cooking and chopping that are worth investing in. For example, I like the look of this stylish ‘easy grip’ utensils set:
My food processer also has attachments that are for slicing and grating.
- I find if you a chop and peel a lot of the things you often use in one sitting and put them in the fridge or freezer, it means is easier to make something tasty and healthy on ‘amber’ days, likewise with meals that you make too much of. If you make a whopping fruit salad with only your favourite fruits (illuminate the boring stuff) and leave it in the fridge it is great to have to dip into throughout the week.
- Try to keep only healthy snacks in your cupboard and on your person so when hunger strikes you can only but satisfy it wisely
- And here is my personal secret tip: when you get steroid munchies and you can’t help but eat in between meals, eat anything (healthy) that crunches: carrots, apples, celery, popcorn, rice cakes, radishes, sugar snaps, whatever - so long as it’s crunchy. This is just a personal discovery and I cannot claim it is backed by any scientific evidence but it certainly worked well for me in that I didn’t pile on too much extra weight. I reckon it might be because crunchy foods take more effort to chew, so whilst they satiate the compulsion to eat, a certain degree of energy is expended in the process itself simultaneously burning calories and giving the facial muscles a good workout – great for the old ‘moon-face’.
Anyone tries the crunching method I’d be really interested to know how it works for you. Also, any more ‘hints and tips’ you can post would be most welcome by me and others I am sure.