Parkinson’s and Nutrition

Yoga, Exercise and Nutrition
for Dystonia, Parkinson’s Disease, Stroke Recovery and other movement disorders

Studies have shown that patients with movement disorders often lose weight. This can be due to a variety of factors. Included among them is that we churn through energy from tremors and from our muscles when they’re in spasm or continuous contraction. For those of us who exercise regularly and practice yoga, the total calorie output may exceed the calorie intake.

Eating small meals but more of them throughout the day helps me maintain a healthy weight. Some considerations I keep in mind when snacking:

Check Ingredients

    • Trans fats are deemed unhealthy regardless of one’s condition
    • Refined sugars such as corn syrup and those compounds that end in
      ‘-ose’ don’t rank very high either on the scale of nutritional value
    • Carbohydrates can be good if they are the complex kind, meaning they’re not made up of white flour or white rice but from whole grains
    • Fiber is essential, especially if you experience constipation Protein feeds muscles and brain cells but can interfere with absorption of some meds. I time my protein intake, keeping the bulk of it for later in the evening.
  • Availability

    • When I have the time and my fine motor skills are ‘on’, I’ll chop, stir, or bake in large batches. That way, when I need that immediate fix, there’s something readily available. Otherwise, I reach for fresh fruit or organic cereal or crackers.
  • Taste

    • Some of the energy bars out there are look – and taste – like bark and twigs. Steer clear of donuts (maybe once in a while), but find something nutritious that you like.

My Nutrition Choices

Here, untested by any dietitians and completely based on my liking, is a listing of what I graze on throughout the day:

Low-protein

(to avoid interacting with meds)

      • Applesauce
      • Bagels (whole grain; though the protein count can be high; I try to put non-protein spreads on mid-day bagel snacks)
      • Carrot and celery sticks (I think it’s worth the extra few cents to buy the pre-cut packages in the produce section to save all that chopping)
      • Crackers (savory bites as well as graham crackers; the rice-based variety are quite low in protein)
      • Cereal (dry, without nuts)
      • Fig or fruit Newton cookies
      • Dried fruit (particularly useful if you’ve a regularity issue – see ‘fiber’ above)
      • 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)
      • Milk alternatives: to avoid the protein but include the vitamin D and calcium, I opt for enriched, unsweetened almond milk and rice milk
      • Popcorn (what the heck, have butter on it, too)
      • Pretzels
      • Quick breads (without banana and nuts)
      • Toast (whole grain sans the protein spread)

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
    • Cereal (with nuts, if you like them; I’m partial to granola for the fiber and other good packed into oats)
    • Cheese (still undecided, it seems, whether cheese affects blood pressure when on a MAO inhibitor – check with your doc)
    • Smoothie
    • Yogurt (including frozen – why not? We need our calcium, too.)