Dieting with a disability

I’m 27 years old, disabled and never been on a diet. But I aim to change this now. All my family and friends who know me well are probably reading this with hysterical laughter and thinking this is a joke. Well, I’m not joking, and I’m determined to try dieting with a disability!

Obviously, you’re probably wondering why I’ve decided to do this in February and not at the beginning of 2021? Well, the simple answer is it was my birthday in January, and I can’t enjoy it without chocolate cake. Also, I had so many chocolate gifts to get through that I received at Christmas and on my birthday that I wanted to finish most of it off before starting this diet.

Eating habits so far

I admit, I’ve always been an extremely fussy eater. I love my meat and chocolate and despise almost all fruit and vegetables. The only fruit and veg I can manage is bananas, peas, carrots and onions.

I sometimes wonder if I have some kind of taste disability like being blind or deaf, in which my mouth/throat can’t handle chewing fruit and veg because of its sizes and textures.

In terms of the amount of food I eat, I’m actually pretty good. I don’t snack at all during the day and have three meals a day; Weetabix for breakfast, a sandwich or sausage roll with a packet of crisps and chocolate digestive biscuits and a variety of hot meals for dinner including chicken, fish, mince, burgers and sausages.

My downfall is usually the number of chocolate digestive biscuits I consume at lunch, the desserts at dinnertime and sometimes an additional sweet treat in the evening.

Current weight

As I can’t access scales at home because I’m in a wheelchair, I don’t know exactly what my current weight is.

However, when I left Treloar College in 2013, I was given a student leavers pack with basic information about my healthcare. That year, my weight was 54.6kg (8 stone 8lb). I last got weighed about a year ago before surgery in hospital and my weight then was approx. 72kg (11 stone 5 lb).

Therefore, in about seven years, I’ve gained more than 15kg (2 stone 5lb). I’ve definitely noticed the weight gain in pictures of me over the past few years. Plus, my clothes size has gone up about three sizes.

I do believe what I eat has caused some of the weight gain, but it could also be due to some of the medication I’m on.

In 2016, I was prescribed the antidepressant Citalopram, which I believe can cause weight gain. Also, in 2018, I was fitted with an implant to stop my periods due to them being extremely heavy and making me anaemic. Furthermore, I had to have top-up contraception depo injections when a period has occurred, which I believe can also cause weight gain.

Reasons for dieting

I have two reasons to do this. Firstly, because I just don’t like the way I look in comparison to older pictures of me and want to look less “chubby” when we’re out of lockdown.

Emma's photo timeline 2012 - 2021

Secondly, I feel more discomfort in my hips, groins and thigh areas and hope to lose some fat behind my legs to make it more comfortable sitting inn my wheelchair and lying on my bed. In addition, I want to prevent more swelling and blood clots in my legs.

Dieting plan

To start with, I’m not going to go overboard and cut everything out, go fasting or do a liquid only diet. I’m just going to stop the chocolate and desserts and focus on balanced meals.

For instance, I’ll have plain digestive biscuits instead of chocolate digestive biscuits. I don’t want to stop digestive biscuits completely because, as it says in the name, they’re good for the digestive system. Although I will try cut on the amount of biscuits I have in one go.

Also, I will not have desserts such as cookies, cakes, brownies, muffins and doughnuts.

The only exceptions will be the odd marshmallow or some popcorn in the evenings. Plus, I may have an occasional hot chocolate as it is the only hot drink I like. I’m not ready to cut sugar completely just yet (or ever!)

My regular meals will mostly continue as before but just maybe add a bit of extra veg or find some new recipes.

I’ve already discovered a new recipe for corned beef ash on a Facebook group called “More taste Less chew”, which gives ideas for meals for people who struggle to chew and swallow. This is perfect for me as I struggle to eat really chewy meats and have my gag reflex.

My initial goal is to stick to this diet until 2nd April 2021, also known as the start of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, in which then I can treat myself to an Easter egg. Then after that, who knows? Depends if I love or hate the diet!

First few days of diet

I began the diet on Monday 8th February and so far it is good. I had a banana for the first time in months and only had two hot chocolates.

The strange thing has been that I’ve been suffering with constipation the last few days and I don’t know if this is just a coincidence or related to the fact that I’ve not eaten chocolate in a week or even psychological.

Exercise

If I could choose between dieting and exercising, I would definitely pick the latter. However due to my physical disability and lack of access to exercising equipment, I’m limited to what I can do.

Before the pandemic, I would usually attend physio sessions at my former college, where I’d do stretches on a physio bench, use a standing frame and use a moto-med pedal machine.

But as I still don’t have access to this and no idea if and when I can return to physio sessions, I’ve had to find alternative ways to exercise.

So far, I can get my carers to give me some stretches on my bed and I can do some exercises with my upper body playing on the Nintendo Wii.

However, my legs are more difficult and the part that needs more work on. Back in January, I purchased myself a portable pedal machine. Unfortunately, it was unsuitable for my needs as it was too fast and my feet would slip out the pedals, and therefore I returned it.

I also tried an Electrical Muscle Stimulation device that helps circulate and relax sore and tired legs and feet. Sadly this was also not suitable because I couldn’t reach my feet on the device.

If you can suggest any other leg exercising devices that work for wheelchair users with cerebral palsy, please let me know.

Dieting with a disability advice

So, there is summary of my plans in starting a diet. I have no idea if this will go well or even how long it may last.

If you could give some advice, tips and/or recipes on how to diet with a disability and/or as a fussy eater, that’ll be much appreciated – wish me luck!

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One thought on “Dieting with a disability

  1. I am doing a fasting diet at the moment. Basically on 3 days a week I don’t have breakfast so on those days I only eat between 12 PM and 8 PM. It seems to be working slowly but surely as my weight seems to be gradually going in the right direction. Good luck with your dieting!

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