MS and Diabetes are two of kind - two chronic illnesses, two autoimmune diseases, two conditions you would rather not have to deal with. Why are people with multiple sclerosis more likely to develop diabetes as they get older? I have a few theories about this, (although none that are new on the scene).
The first, and as I said this is not new, is that as you normally get older, you have more of a chance of developing things like diabetes. Why? We exercise less. We eat more or the same amount we used to. As a result, we gain weight. If we develop obesity, one of the side effects is diabetes.
As a person with MS, you are more likely to do less exercise because of mobility problems. You are less likely to eat well if you aren't able to shop, cook, and prepare, your own food as often. These life choices are less than ideal, however, they can't always be helped. If you aren't able to exercise the way you used to, what can you expect, right?
And the food issue is another story. I know if Cir had to cook, he would go for easy and quick. I know he doesn't know how to cook, however, if he did, and had to depend on just himself, this would be the preferred category for food preparation. Although he would strive to find healthy foods in this category, we all know that packaged foods are not always the best choices.
So what should you do when you have no energy to cook a full course healthy meal, two to three times a day, everyday - 365 days of the year? You begin to make compromises just so that you can eat. If you have support in the form of a spouse, like me, for example, your dilemma is more or less solved, unless your spouse or partner doesn't cook.
Here are a few suggestions to eat more healthy when you don't feel well much of the time:
Most of these suggestions are dependent on whether you felt like shopping or had someone to shop for you for healthy ingredients in the first place. You could do the shopping and eat out or order in on that day only. The other days of the week, you would have ingredients available to prep and cook with.
Now that we've addressed the food issue, what about exercising when you have MS and diabetes? When you have mobility problems, there are a limited number of exercises you can do. Nothing that requires you to balance without the use of an aide. Walking, running, regular yoga, and many other exercises may be off limits for you. Of course, if you don't have mobility problems, go for it.
You'll need to adapt your exercise regimen to something more manageable. Modified yoga and tai chi, perhaps sitting in a chair. Any exercises that can be done while seated. Water aerobics may be an option, however you may need help in and out of the pool as well as getting ready before and after.
A regular bike may no longer be an option, however, a recumbent bike or fat wheeled bikes might work for you. Anything to give you more control. Get Cycling Disability in the UK, has modified tricycles and other types of bikes for both children and adults. There are many other ways of exercising when you have limits placed upon you by a disability or the other challenges of MS. Things like horseback riding may even help restore some of the balance you've lost.
What if you can't do any of the exercises suggested? What if your energy reserves are depleted before you even start to think about exercising? What do you do then? Can you do, or have someone else help you to do, range of motion exercises? Can you sit on a balance ball or stand on your toes?
Maybe not, especially with MS and diabetes, however, you may be able to pull stretch bands or do yoga while sitting. You may be able to do a lot of exercises while sitting or standing against a wall. The thing is to do something. Especially when you're having a good day.
If you can get a prescription for physical therapy, make sure they are with someone who's worked with MS patients before. They can give you suggestions for exercises you can do with the abilities you still have.
All of the suggestions above will help you if you have both MS and diabetes, especially if you are able to do them consistently. Even if you don't do the same thing everyday, doing something is better than doing nothing. And even if it's not every single day, there are bound to be some days when you are feeling well enough to do a little bit. Do them. Anything is definitely better than nothing.
Even if doing all of the suggestions don't eliminate your health problems, you can still be more healthy. With MS and diabetes or any other autoimmune disease or condition, you can be healthier by adopting good habits.
It may be a bit much, having to deal with the MS symptoms and the insulin shots everyday. Trying to think about and develop healthy eating habits and when and what exercises to do, may feel like a challenge. It's a challenge worth taking on though, so don't be afraid to do it.
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Cir & Akrista
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