Unexpected Friends
February 16, 2009
Quick Bites – a postscript
April 24, 2009

Quick Bites – Renee’s PDQ snacks

During spin class the other day, the instructor grinned as she relayed that regular aerobic exercise can increase our metabolisms by thirty percent. Spin two or three times a week, she said, and we’ll burn more calories even while we’re asleep.

NO! I already wake up to a growling stomach at 3:00 am, I thought. The music pulsed and I kept rhythm with my feet, circling at a quick pace. My mind, however, was caught up in the whether I’d be able to keep up that ridiculous cadence without passing out from hunger. Some nights, I go to bed with a little twinge telling me that dinner was too long ago. Besides, once I’ve brushed my teeth; that’s it. I’m not going deal with flossing a second time in one night.

As the beat slowed – the signal for an uphill – I stood in the pedals. The teacher was shouting into her microphone to be heard over the cacophony of whirring wheels, but I didn’t hear her. I was wondering if I was strong enough, should I drink some more, what would I’d eat the millisecond class ended.

Spinning – as with most exercise that gets our heart rate going – churns through calories. So, too, can involuntary movements. Movements such as tremors or muscle spasms. Not to mention the full-body workout of turning in bed.

To maintain a balance between all that activity and a calm center, I head for my yoga mat. I include some restorative poses through the week, including inversions such as shoulder stands and legs up the wall (or up on a chair, more often) to slow down the pace a bit.

And with all that outgoing energy, to keep from dropping too many pounds, I head for the kitchen. In a recent seminar, I learned that studies have shown that PD patients often lose weight, due to a variety of factors including energy output being higher than calorie input.

Time to make snacking an art form.

  • First, I like to consider ingredients. High energy is key. So, trans fats: ooh, bad, right on up there with refined sugars. Carbs and fiber: muy bien. Protein: questionable, depending on my meds schedule.
  • Second, what about ease? When I have the time that it takes to chop, stir, or bake, I can make large batches so when I need that immediate fix, there’s something readily available.
  • Third, is it tasty? Some of the energy bars out there are too close to actually eating bark and twigs.

Here, then, untested by any dietitians and completely based on my liking, is a listing of what I’ll call PDQ Snacks (Parkinson’s Disease Quality Snacks):

Low-protein (to avoid interacting with meds)
Applesauce
Bagels    (whole grain)
Carrot and celery sticks (I think it’s worth the extra few cents to buy the precut packages in the produce section to save all that chopping)
Crackers (savory bites as well as graham crackers)
Cereal (dry, without nuts)
Fig or fruit Newton cookies
Dried fruit (particularly useful if you’ve a regularity issue – hey, I’m just saying…)
Fresh fruit (bananas, I’ve read, can have the same problem as proteins, so I check my med schedule before selecting a banana)
Juices (with no sugars added)
Popcorn (what the heck, have butter on it, too)
Pretzels
Quick breads (without banana and nuts)
Toast

With protein (for evening or timed when med absorption won’t be affected)
Almonds (roasted, plain, or tamari – yum)
Bagels or crackers with peanut butter
Cheese (still undecided, it seems, whether cheese affects blood pressure when on a MAO inhibitor – check with your doc)
Smoothie
Yogurt (including frozen yogurt – summer’s coming)

Spin class seems the complete opposite of a yoga class for me. I’m unfocused and struggling with thoughts and fears. But, if I’m to practice my yoga off the mat, too, I could be more present while I’m climbing pretend mountains in a room full of others on stationary bikes. Recalling the first of the personal ethics or yamas – ahimsa – I am reminded to be kind, starting with myself. Feeding my body is essential. Feeding my body what it needs – nutritious, high-energy, frequent bites – will free up my mind to embrace the uphill rides as well as the down.

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