Sunday, January 15, 2012

Managing Your Weight While on Steroids

When most people think of steroids they envision bodybuilders and big muscles; however the most commonly prescribed steroid is Prednisone, of the corticosteroid family. Corticosteroids are also known as glucocorticoids or cortisone, and are synthetic (man-made) drugs designed to work similar to the body’s naturally occurring hormones produced by the adrenal glands, in particular cortisol. Corticosteroids work to decrease swelling, warmth, tenderness, and pain that are caused by inflammation.

One of the side effects happens to be increased weight gain caused by increased appetite and fluid retention. Since being diagnosed with lupus, I have been on and off prednisone (steroid) for the last 15 years. Prior to my knowledge of nutrition (about 16 years of age), I had a mooned shaped face and weighed 180 pounds! I knew that if I didn’t take control of the steroids, they would continue to take control of me and because of the increased weight gain, I would be at risk for further health complications. I was not about to let this happen! My mindset had to change. I had to learn to curb my cravings and make healthy food choices today, not tomorrow!

Here are some tips for managing your appetite and curbing your cravings to help maintain your weight while on steroids.

1. Keep healthy snacks available! I always have salad ingredients available, fresh fruit, low-fat Greek yogurt, or cut up raw veggies for snacks. Replace refined sugar products with natural fruits, vegetables and nuts. Try to snack twice daily with these low-calorie snacks to help reduce cravings for inappropriate foods and maintain metabolism.

2. PLAN out your healthy meal and snack times. With planned meals and snacks you are less likely to go to make unhealthy choices, such as high calorie/processed snacks or ‘fast food’ restaurants.

3. Stay busy! Keeping an active mind or on projects will help keep your mind off of food and odd cravings.

4. Portion control. Learn portion sizes and serve food on smaller plates to encourage appropriate-size portions and smaller meals. Stop eating when you feel full and remember you don't have to clean your plate at every meal!

5. Follow a low sodium diet to help reduce fluid retention! Avoid processed foods as much as possible and be diligent about reading food labels. Limit your sodium intake to less than 140 mg per serving size when reading food labels, and try to stay under 2,400 mg per day.

6. Keep the food away from the table at meal times! When the food is on the table, you are likely to go back for seconds! If you are still hungry, keep a salad and light salad dressing or some fresh fruit on table.

7. Increase your fiber intake with leafy green, raw vegetables and whole-wheat grain products. You will feel full faster and longer with high-fiber foods.

8. Increase the amount of water you drink daily. Squeeze a slice of fresh lemon into each glass to satisfy your taste buds. Drink water instead of caffeine drinks, alcohol or soda products!

Me on steroids before my knowledge of good nutrition

Me on steroids after I started practicing better nutrition habits and exercise