Image via Flickr – by Jennifer
A couple of years ago, my husband got a call from his dad, who told him that his mother had just been admitted to the hospital after suffering a stroke. She is a former smoker and had suffered from high blood pressure for years, so medically, it wasn’t a huge surprise, but it certainly knocked those of us in the family for a loop.
Even though her stroke was minor and she recovered quickly, it was difficult seeing her in that hospital bed. She is a very outgoing person and extremely fun to be around, and I could tell that the stroke had really scared her. When I talked to her at the hospital, I told her I would help her get back on her feet, and we’d make sure she felt even better than she did prior to the stroke.
Once the doctors had cleared her, my first order of business was getting her going on some regular exercise. I’ve been a swimmer and runner since before I can remember, and I thought she’d really enjoy being in the water. And in fact, as this guide on stroke recovery and swimming notes, the National Stroke Association says swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for post-stroke patients. I knew it’d be great for my mother-in-law, too, because it’s easy on the joints and she also suffers from arthritis pain. I’m happy to report that, though she was against it at first, she took to the water right away!
The next order of business was cleaning up her diet. I actually thought that she’d put up more of a fight about the exercising. But it turned out she had a bigger issue with being told what she could and couldn’t eat! After a lot of trial and error, we’ve been able to find a few staples that she’ll always agree to. Here they are:
Fish.My mother-in-law loves steak. And in fact, it used to feature heavily at family get-togethers at my in-laws’ house. But no more.As these nutrition tips for stroke survivors from the American Stroke Association note, fish is a better way to go. The ASA recommends eating fish twice a week. It also notes that because of its strong flavor, broiling fish is a good cooking method for stroke survivors who are suffering from a loss of appetite.
Quinoa. I love quinoa because it is so versatile. As this article from CBS Chicago explains, it’s a superfood that works for breakfast or dinner, and is packed with “protein, essential amino acids, fiber, minerals, b vitamins and flavonoids.”I like to pair it with fish or chicken. If you’re not familiar with cooking quinoa, Health.com provides a great variety of recipes.
Fruits and Veggies. Of course, you’re going to see these on any healthy eating list, but I think it can’t be emphasized enough how important fruits and vegetables are for healthy living. Why are they essential for stroke survivors, specifically? In this article on stroke recovery, the Cleveland Clinic explains that fruits and vegetables may “reduce stroke-related brain damage.” So, find ways to work them into every meal of the day.
Whole grains.Bread was another huge point of contention for my mother-in-law. She didn’t want to give up carbs, and by switching to whole grains, she didn’t have to. It took a little convincing but I got her to switch from regular pasta to whole wheat pasta. She even admitted she liked it just as much! So, as LiveStrong.com notes, the next time you purchase pasta, cereal, or other carbs, make sure they were made with whole grains.
If you’re a stroke survivor making the switch to a healthier diet or if you’re a loved one helping a stroke survivor do so, keep in mind that healthy eating doesn’t mean bland eating. When you incorporate the right foods into your diet, you can absolutely enjoy what you eat and improve your health in the process.
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Patricia Sarmiento is a health and fitness blogger who shares what she knows about health, wellness, fitness, and other health-related topics. An avid swimmer and runner, she makes living an active lifestyle a constant goal. She lives with her husband, son, daughter, and the family dog in Maryland.