Self-Care Nutrition In The World Of Chronic Illness


In our household. we take care of eachother. Doesn’t matter who the caregiver or the one needing taken care of is. We look out for eachother. Hey we are a family of adults making it work!


Anyone with a severe chronic illness or the caregiver of someone who is chronically ill, knows that self care is both a must and many times the hardest to provide oneself.

There isn’t anything more basic in self-care than good solid nutrition. The less hassle the better too. The less hassle. the more likely it’s going to happen. The less hassle, the kinder you are being towards whoever is responsible for making it happen.

When dealing with chronic illness, it can be our biggest weapon to ease our suffering and even in some cases reverse the chronic Illness. Good nutrition can help slow down some chronic condition’s advancement and prevent new ones from taking hold.  It can allow our medications a chance to work better, or if lucky, it can replace the need for prescription medications all together.

Living off store bought frozen entrees with less than healthy ingredients like high sodium, animal products and non whole foods, for me would never help. Fast food will make most people’s health more complicated. So the sooner any of us in these sorts of shoes can figure this out for ourselves, the better.

With Dercum’s Disease, Fibromyalgia,and Lymphedema, Lipedema and Diabetes and low grade start to coronary disease, it has come down to me to figure this out. How to eat to not make things worse. What can be healthy to eat, inexpensive, and easy enough to prepare that my husband can manage along with all his other responsibilities. If it can be easy enough for me on a good day to prepare and toss individual servings in the freezer, that’s great too.

This week I am recovering from the Plant-Based Nutrition Summit last Saturday, and one grocery run on Monday. (Dercum’s Disease is like that, overdo it and you are down for the count. It doesn’t take much). Even a motorized scooter couldn’t save me from being a pain filled zombie on Sunday, part of Monday, and  bed bound on Sunday and part of Tuesday and all day Wednesday through Thursday morning.

Yet unlike the past when this would start to happen, I’m not eating greasy cheeseburgers my husband is bringing home, or processed foods on white bread, or even sodium filled frozen entrees. We aren’t going broke from food either.

Now that we are established in a plant-based diet as a household, we have kept it easy to manage and afford.

The easy sandwich/pesto recipe:

Aldi sells frozen peas 79 cents a bag. Trader Joe sells Miyoko Vegan Crème cheese $5.50 a container. Broccoli is cheap everywhere fresh or riced.

in a freezer bag, we combine frozen peas and riced broccoli (or riced cauliflower). Keep it in the freezer.  Defrost half per batch you are making. Place in food processor or high power blender, can be somewhat lumpy. In a bowl, stir in garlic, onion chopped or onion powder, some crushed red pepper if desired, and 2 Tbl of either Miyoko Vegan Cream cheese or no-oil hummus.

It will keep for a few days in the fridge and makes a great sandwich spread, or on whole grain toast in the morning for breakfast. Very good as a type of stir in for whole grain pasta. You can add basil and oregano and lime juice to liven it up. Put cucumbers on top of it or tomato.  Add some shredded carrot to it.

Or forget the grain pasta and use a peeler or veggie noodle maker and stir it into veggie noodles for a 100% vegetable dish.

Pea Broccoli Spread
Broccoli-Pea Salad on No Wheat Rye
Broccoli-Pea Pesto using same sandwich spread but adding basil and oregano plus a splash of lime


You Can’t Go Wrong With A Great Salad

Never underestimate the power of a good salad. Never over estimate how much it cost to eat salad. These days even Aldi can keep you fresh organic greens and other produce for very little money.

I try to follow the daily dozen  rules of Dr. Michael Greger to keep my nutrition well rounded. Gone are the days of ice berg lettuce being sufficient. Now it’s 2 servings of greens a day along with a serving of cruciferous vegetables and two serving of “other vegetables” that are low glycemic index. Also I need to get two servings of fruit and a serving of berries. In addition to all that, three servings of beans/peas and three whole grain servings. One serving of seeds and nuts and I’m also suppose to have flax seeds once a day.

If I know I’m going to be down for the count in bed for several days possibly, I direct my husband or try to plan myself to throw together salads that will incorporate a little of everything to make a salad. Dark greens, riced cruciferous veggies of some type, brown rice or barley,  well rinsed and drained black beans, sliced cucumbers and shredded carrots.  I’ll put fresh fruit around the sides such as something easy to rinse and use like fresh blueberries and easy to peel like orange sections. Then just some lemon or lime juice.

Black Bean Burgers Too

The sandwich spread mentioned above and one or two varieties of salads that are kept on hand and prepared, can keep well rounded nutrition within easy reach. I also keep black bean burgers in the freezer that we make. There are many recipes online and in plant-based cook books. Here is one of my favorites


From Scratch Black Bean Burgers


food salad healthy summer
Photo by Pixabay on


Roasted Cauliflower: Yum

Roast a head of cauliflower in the oven and slice it when it’s cooled. Very easy to keep for a few days and eat from as needed. It freezes well too.

cauliflower cooking pot delicious food
Skip the boiling or steaming. Just dry rub it with your favorite seasonings, bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. You will have a very slight satisfying crunch. Frozen riced cauliflower or broccoli is an easy alternative too. Let it defrost on top of  salad in the fridge.  Photo by Pixabay on


No Cook Over Night Oats

Overnight Oats are wonderful too. I’m not talking about the Overnight Oats you see on the grocery shelves. This is like a breakfast oatmeal and fruit custard without eggs though. No cooking involved either. You can find the recipe online by looking it up, but basically, it’s one part old fashioned oats and two parts non dairy milk of your choice, and a tablespoon or two of chia seeds stirred in. Oh and also you can put in the fruit of your choice, any amount you want.

I like using a one cup storage container to make it in and eat it from to keep the portions reasonable. I use berries, but apple slices are good too with some cinnamon mixed in. I tend to use more fruit than oats. So the oats and non dairy milk are a sideline, but that is just my preference. The chia seeds make a gel that helps to solidify the entire dish into pudding sort of combo, if you will.

The gelling process happens as it sits airtight/covered in the fridge overnight. When you get up, it’s ready to eat.

You can make a few of these overnight oats up at one time and eat off of them for a few days for breakfast. Adding nuts or sliced banana is good too.

person holding white ceramic coffee cup leaning on brown wooden table
Photo by THE 5TH on

Nothing wrong with some herbal tea, but you will find that eating this way will replace your need for caffeinated coffee.  Your mind may become better focused and you will know you are doing all you can for yourself and those you care about.

Well nourished people are healthier and more content in life. Take care of eachother and help it happen.

Why do I eat a plant-based diet?






My Son The Vegan: I Remember When He Only Ate Meatloaf

Eric and mom summer 2018


It happened last Friday.

” I am ready to be Vegan”, said my “life depends on eating meat and cheese” 22 year old son.

One would say given that his dad and I are plant-based eaters, that it was only natural that while done with classes until fall, that he would just eat like we do. Mind you though, it seems like just yesterday that we were lucky he ate anything.

“There is lots of good nutrition in meatloaf”,  years ago his doctor assured me with those words.

I had brought his eating to her attention because while he was a well behaved kid but he was vomiting and gagging when trying to eat foods he had asked for.  At that time he was living on ground meat including meatloaf. I took comfort in her words.

Those words echoed in my memory every time I saw him devour more and more meat.  The guy lived on a small group of food and all vegetables had to be snuck into those foods. We had to hide textures, smells and different categories of tastes because we learned that he had sensory integration issues. He experienced food differently than most people.

As a teenager he even learned to cook for himself, hiding vegetables in the foods he could handle.  Pizza with no sauce and just mozzarella cheese was one staple. Meatloaf and burgers were among others

I remember what a big victory it was at the time to get him to eat less beef and he began to eat chicken burgers.  It’s  a fond memory when we got him to chop up kale and throw it into anything and eat it.

I still remember when he was 16,  his “kale waffles” creation that only a mother’s pride in her son’s problem solving abilities, could get her to enjoy.

Fast forward a few years to now.He’s a college student who has taken the summer off. He watched Forks Over Knives and checked one of their books out from the library. That was a month ago.

During his research, the internet was both helpful and confusing. He struggled with all the takes on nutrition out there with the Paleo/Keto movement going neck and neck with plant-based in popularity.

What helped him make up his mind to remove the primary source of his nutrition and make a change to plant-based/vegan living has been:

  1. He noticed what meat had started to do to his body each time he ate it (he would swell up).
  2. He had put on 20 pounds by eating way too many burgers while attending classes on campus.
  3. He got reminded by me that he likely inherited a predisposition to lymphatic irregularities, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  4. He learned what really happens in the meat industry as far as the cruelty to animals.
  5. He has experimented enough with veggie burgers, vegan cheeses and smoothies that he could hide an abundance of nutrient dense plant-based food. He found confidence he could happily live without animal protein.

#5 is a huge factor for everyone when making dietary changes, but especially for those with sensory integration issues or those who have always based their diet on meat, cheese and so on. Without confidence that food will still taste good and fill you up and satisfy basic needs,  it’s impossible to fully commit. Without commitment, transitioning won’t happen.

So how did this miraculous change of diet happen for him?

  1. He put in the effort to see if transitioning was possible during a low stress phase, summer break from college. No stress eating. This will allow him an additional two months to solidify his new eating habits and choices in his mind. When school starts again, it will be second nature to him.
  2. He combined mashed black beans with ground beef and over time used less ground beef and more mashed beans, vegetables and oat flour.
  3. When I would make my food and knew it would be similar to the textures and tastes he can handle, I would make a bite size portion for him to try over and over. They say it can take up to 15 tastes before a new food is acceptable).
  4. When making pizza, he started to use a sprouted grain crust, and he added crushed fresh kale or spinach.  For cheese he combines 1 part dairy cheese with 2 parts vegan cheeses. He weaned himself off of dairy cheese.
  5. He found a good unsweetened high protein and high calcium nut milk recently for smoothies.
  6. He learned that baby greens are less taste prohibitive than their full grown versions. He piles huge mounds of them into his smoothies.
  7. He finds he likes stevia which is a natural sweetener.
  8. He has been educated on the need for B-12, maintain good protein, calcium and iron.

He has lost 10 pounds in a month. He is eating low on the glycemic index healthy foods and he’s learning at his age what I wish I had known to do.  Well done!