Drink up for pain, inflammation, and weight loss!
People often ask what I eat since nutrition is very important to me, especially as it relates to helping control pain and other symptoms of dystonia. I also used to weigh well over 300 pounds so when people learn that I lost around 150 pounds, “how did you do it?” is a common question. Below are pictures with my nephew from 2006 and 2016. I shrunk and he grew! Frankly, I barely recognize the version of me on the left. It’s as if that were a different life, one filled with deep emotional and physical pain from a life turned on its axis when dystonia enveloped my entire world.
In an attempt to keep this brief, I don’t want to go into great detail about everything I eat. More about my personal eating habits and nutrition as it relates to pain, dystonia, and weight management is in my book. For now I want to focus on two healthy drinks I have daily that I think will be of help, no matter your situation in life. One is a protein drink and the other is an anti-inflammatory drink. These drinks supplement my regular diet of food.
Every morning for breakfast I have a fruit smoothie protein drink. I want to stress “protein” because many people will have a fruit smoothie and leave out this vital ingredient. Protein is critical for keeping blood sugar stable, among many other functions.
This smoothie is easy to make, easy to drink, and easy to clean. From start to finish, I can be done with all of it in less than 15 minutes. I mention this because for many people who have chronic pain and/or dystonia and other movement disorders, preparing food, eating, and cleaning up can be a major challenge. For most people, this drink is an easy, healthy option. It is the main reason I began making it. The pain in my neck and back was too unbearable to prepare and eat anything else. I also had trouble swallowing food.
To make preparation even easier, you can put all your ingredients for one drink in separate bags and store them in the freezer. Just grab a bag, put the contents in your blender, add liquid, and away you go! See further below under the list of ingredients.
10-12 oz. frozen berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, strawberries)
20-30 raw soaked almonds (almonds and other nuts, seeds, beans, and grains contain a substance called phytic acid, which blocks the absorption of essential minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium in their pure form. If you soak them in water, the phytic acid is released, making them healthier to consume and easier to digest. I always keep my almonds soaking in fresh water in the refrigerator for this reason.
Protein powder (I like plant based protein powders so I use pea protein powder. I always use unflavored powders to ensure there is no added sugar or sweetener, but use whatever powder you like)
1-2 tablespoons chia seeds (Check them out! Chia seeds are a major superfood!)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (Cinnamon is an awesome anti-inflammatory, loaded with antioxidants, good for heart health, and helps regulate blood sugar, among many other things – Here is an additional resource from eMediHealth)
Water (I use water to keep calories down and because I am not a dairy drinker)
Mix in blender, Nutri-Bullet, Ninja Blender, Vitamix, etc.
Pre-made smoothie bags
I have this drink for breakfast, but it is ideal for any meal or in between meals. It is filled with healthy protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber, and antioxidants. It also has a low glycemic index and is low in calories. You can also make it and take it with you if you are a person on the go.
I call my other drink a “ginger/apple blast”, which I have during the day. I drink it for the anti-inflammatory properties found in ginger root. I add apple because of its health properties and I like the ginger/apple taste, but any fruit will do. I use spinach or kale to add more vitamins, minerals, and fiber to my diet.
Fresh ginger root sliced (about the size of a lime, which for some is a hefty amount, but use as much as you like per your taste)
1 small apple sliced
1 cup fresh spinach or kale
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix in blender, Nutri-Bullet, Ninja Blender, Vitamix, etc.
Ginger is most well-known for stomach discomfort, but it is also one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory foods available. Ginger also has an anti-diabetic affect and cholesterol lowering properties, as well as many other health benefits. It also helps crave hunger. Turmeric/curcumin is another fantastic option, but my preference is ginger which is easier to find in most grocery stores.
As an example of the potency of ginger, years ago I had very bad knee pain from playing baseball in college. I was a catcher and developed tendonitis in both knees. I also broke both ankles twice. When I graduated, I had a desk job. Every time I got up I was in too much pain to walk upright until about the 10th step. Less than a month after having this drink every day, I was practically pain free and able to walk without a problem. I was amazed!
When pain from dystonia set in a few years later, I knew I had to turn to ginger again and it has done wonders for my neck and back. I am not suggesting you will experience the same satisfaction, but please consider the possibility of this powerful food. It helps if your overall diet and lifestyle are healthy.
These are just 2 ideas among MANY healthy drink options, so choose ingredients you like best. The important thing to keep in mind is to eat healthy sources of protein and carbohydrate, healthy fat, fiber, and foods with a low glycemic index.
Happy drinking! Cheers! Salud! À votre santé! L’chaim! Prost Zum wohl! Na zdravi!
Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and the author of 2 books: Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey (2015) and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges (2021). He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, volunteer for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers Network, The Mighty, Patient Worthy, and The Wellness Universe. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his books (also on Amazon), or schedule a free life coaching consult, visit www.tomseamancoaching.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.