The MS healthy weight challenge

Reaching a healthy weight is a challenge for many of us – over 50% of Canadians are overweight or obese. And people with multiple sclerosis (MS) may find it even harder.

On average, people with MS are about 25 pounds heavier than the average person. Why? The fatigue caused by MS can shut down your exercise plans and make it hard to cook healthy meals. Plus, steroid treatment for MS relapses can lead to weight gain.

But the good news is that you can do something about it. Taking steps to manage your weight will help improve your overall health. It can also help you:

  • avoid MS complications (such as pressure sores or blood clots)
  • manage MS fatigue (eating a few heavy meals per day can make fatigue worse)
  • reduce the risk of certain causes of disability (less weight means less stress on the joints, heart, and lungs)
  • do your daily activities more easily
  • avoid other illnesses
  • feel better about yourself

Don't lose heart if your ideal weight seems to be a long way off! Even losing just 10 pounds can give you a health boost. Take the healthy weight challenge today, and see what you can do to get closer to your desired weight. Read "Taming your weight: How to get started" for tips on how to get started.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Managing-Your-Weight

Taming your weight: how to get started

You've read about popular diets, you've seen the ads for the latest exercise gizmos – but what's the best way to keep your weight under control?

The answer is that you don't need fancy formulas or special equipment to control your weight – by eating a healthy diet and adding some physical activity into your daily routine, you can drop pounds and reach a healthy weight. While the idea may be simple, making it work can be harder than it looks.

Here's how to get started. First, find out if you have a healthy weight by calculating your BMI (body mass index). BMI measures your weight relative to your height. It applies to adults aged 18 to 65, but not to pregnant or breast-feeding women.

According to Health Canada, you should aim for a BMI somewhere between 18.5 and 24.9. When your BMI is in this range, it means you are a healthy weight for your height. If your BMI is 25.0 or over, you are overweight, and you could benefit from losing weight until you are in your healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9.

Your next step is to talk to your doctor about making a personal weight loss plan – this plan will include healthy eating and exercise. If the physical effects of MS make exercise a challenge, or if this will be your first time exercising after a long break, talk to your doctor, who can tell you which exercises will be safest to start with. You can also do your own research on healthy eating and exercise. Finally, work with your doctor to set realistic, achievable weight loss goals: most experts recommend 0.5 to 1.0 kilograms (1-2 pounds) per week as a safe, reasonable rate of weight loss.

Once you're armed with knowledge, a realistic weight loss goal, and a personal plan, it's time to give it a try! Don't be discouraged if you occasionally have some unhealthy food or skip an exercise session – the important thing is to get back on the horse and stick with your plan.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Managing-Your-Weight

Exercise: what works for you?

You already know that exercise can help you lose weight. But did you know that the secret to sticking with your exercise program is choosing exercises that you actually enjoy? This sounds obvious, but many people wind up with an exercise routine that they hate. Or they continue to do the same activities long after they've stopped being fun. So it's no surprise when they don't feel like exercising.

But you can find exercises that you enjoy. Exercising is about more than just going to a gym. You'd be surprised that many everyday hobbies and activities, such as gardening, can actually count as exercise. And you can adapt these activities to get around some of the physical challenges of MS, such as fatigue, mobility, and balance issues.

Here are a few suggestions on finding fun, creative ways to exercise with MS:

  • If MS fatigue makes it hard for you to do a 30-minute or 60-minute exercise routine, break your exercise up into several shorter blocks of only 10 minutes – this will give you the same benefit in easy-to-manage chunks. Schedule the 10-minute chunks for the times when you have the most energy.
  • If there are some sports or exercises that you used to do but now find challenging because of your MS, ask your physiotherapist about ways to modify them so you can continue to enjoy them.
  • Try something new! Join a yoga class (some centers offer yoga classes especially for people with MS) or learn a new sport.
  • If getting out to the gym is hard, or you'd rather not join a gym, you can exercise at home, either by getting your own exercise equipment or using exercise videos. Some videos are made for people with MS – contact your local MS society to find out where to buy them.

Exercise will help you control your weight. Plus, exercise has an added bonus: it can help improve your MS. People who exercise enjoy better fitness, stronger limbs, less fatigue, and better bowel and bladder control. Exercise can also help you recover from relapses and manage feelings of anger or depression.

Before starting any new exercise routine, check with your doctor or physiotherapist first. They can make sure that your new activity will be both fun and safe!

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Managing-Your-Weight

Do your eating habits need a makeover?

You've heard it all before: eating right can bring you better health and a trimmer waistline. But despite our best-laid plans, many of us find we're eating more TV dinners than fresh vegetables.

Plus, when you have MS, you've got more than just your busy life to contend with: fatigue and other MS symptoms make it challenging to prepare healthy meals and snacks. So how can you give your eating habits a makeover?

Follow Canada's Food Guide. When deciding which foods to eat, stay away from fad diets – if a diet promises to help you lose more than a couple of pounds (1 kilogram) per week, if it tells you to eat only soup, or if you need to buy special "cleansers" or "detox" products, stay away. Instead, eat a varied diet that's rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat. Stick with lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Each day, you will need:

  • 6 to 8 servings of grain products (a slice of bread is one serving, a bagel is 2 servings)
  • 7 to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables (one medium-sized fruit or vegetable is one serving)
  • 2 to 3 servings of milk or milk alternatives (250 mL or one cup of milk is one serving)
  • 2 to 3 servings of meat or alternatives (100 g of tofu or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is one serving)

Look to Canada's Food Guide for more information on serving sizes.

Take it slow and steady. Don't try to change everything at once. Start with making one of your daily meals healthier, and work from there. Snack on healthy foods (such as fruits and vegetables or unsalted pretzels) so you're not always hungry. And don't be discouraged if you find yourself falling back into old habits – it takes time for a change like this to become part of your routine.

Make a few simple switches. Replace junk food snacks like potato chips with healthier alternatives, like whole grain crackers. Try eating fruit for dessert instead of cake or candy. In recipes, substitute high-fat ingredients for lower-fat ones, such as skim or 1% milk instead of whole milk, low-fat cheese instead of regular cheese, or 2 egg whites for one egg.

Give yourself some satisfaction. If you really love chocolate, don't swear off it forever. This could lead to a chocolate binge in your future. Just cut back to a smaller amount each week. Eat slowly and pay attention to the taste, smell, and texture of your food. Avoid distractions like reading or watching TV while eating. This can help you enjoy your meal so you'll feel more satisfied after eating.

Set yourself up for success. Fill your fridge and cupboards with healthy snacking alternatives like cut veggies, pre-washed fruit, and unbuttered popcorn. If you don't have potato chips in the house, you'll be less likely to snack on them. If you're feeling short on time and energy because of your MS, try these quick tips:

  • Buy veggies pre-washed and pre-cut.
  • Cook a large batch of food once a week (some people even do this once a month!) and freeze the leftovers for later.
  • If you need to buy frozen dinners, look for versions that are low in salt and saturated fat.

You don't need a complicated diet to lose weight. Just making these simple changes can help you reach – and keep – your target weight.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Managing-Your-Weight