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Your Diet and Exercise Plan
How Healthy Eating and Increased Activity Can Help
By Micki Sievwright, Managing Editor
Anyone can have a
stroke—it does not discriminate based on age, race or gender. The same is true
for secondary stroke: Your chances increase if you have certain risk factors or
criteria that can cause another stroke.
To live the
healthiest post-stroke life, eat wisely and move your body often. Knowing that
your life is different now, post stroke, you may want to consult a dietician
and physical therapist to discuss your challenges and create a personalized
plan. Maintaining a healthy balance of a nutritious diet and exercise can lead
you on the path of recovery. This takes focus and dedication, however.
By eating healthy
and increasing your physical activity, you are protecting your body from risk
of a second stroke. Take it step by step and talk with your doctor before
starting any new diet or exercise program.
Eating Smart, Eating
Maintaining a balance
of fruits, vegetables and protein is a must for everyone. But stroke can affect
your nutritional health as it might limit your daily activities associated with
eating, such as grocery shopping, preparing meals and feeding yourself. It is
common for stroke survivors to experience trouble while swallowing; food can
become pocketed between the cheek and teeth and drooling may occur because of
an inability to seal the lips.
- Choking and coughing
during and after meals
- Inability to suck
from a straw
- Lack of a gag reflex
survivors have weakness on one side. If the hand or arm that you use to feed
yourself is weak, you may find it hard to use a knife and fork. If you have
problems reaching for food, spilling food, cutting meat or opening containers,
ask your speech therapist, occupational therapist, nurse or doctor about
getting some special items that can make eating easier. Examples include:
- Suction cups for
- Extra-long tongs
- Plate guards
dietitian can help you develop an eating plan that will provide a satisfying
and nutritious diet.
Finding the Right
A wise man once
said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Embrace that saying
and take a first step to having a healthy mind and body. Adopting a positive attitude can help you
cope with challenges and stay focused on your recovery.
First, set an initial
goal of exercising to regain pre-stroke levels of activity as soon as possible.
This may include:
- Sets of sitting down
and standing up
- Working on balance
- Practice shifting
- Gentle stretching
- Bending at joints
For many stroke
survivors, it is helpful to have someone
standing nearby while you are exercising.
for a time of day when you feel your best. It might be tiring on some days more
than others. Try dividing daily exercise into two sessions—perhaps one in the
morning and another in the afternoon to avoid fatigue and increase stamina.
Because the effects of stroke vary, exercise levels will be different for each
Micki Sievwright is
the new managing editor of StrokeSmartTM. She has contributed to
several publications including Minnesota Palate, Ski Patrol Magazine and MD
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