There's a really important link between what you eat and your pain levels.
It can be through your weight, it can be through the foods you eat and it can be both actually working together.
We know that there's some specific food components that can influence your pain levels and this is things like omega 3 fats and a whole host of other foods that you can change.
You'll be able to do something about your pain levels by changing the foods you eat.
Dietary fats in particular can affect your experience of pain.
Some types of fats increase inflammation and some decrease inflammation.
Omega 3 fats specifically get incorporated into the red blood cell membranes in your body.
They help to make your nerves less sensitive to pain stimulus and you'll find them in fish, like salmon and sardines, oils and margarines that are made from canola products, seeds like linseed and flaxseed, walnuts and products that are fortified with omega 3's and if you don't like any of those you can take omega 3 supplements themselves.
There are some fats that you should avoid as well, so moderate your intake of polyunsaturated fats and oils and then to protect your heart and avoid weight gain really cut down on the foods that are high in saturated fats.
This is the white fat on meat, the full fat that comes from dairy products, the fats that you find in takeaways and processed foods and fried foods in general, very high in calories, not good for your heart and not good for your pain.
This approach is going to take a little bit of time.
It takes up to three months for all those fatty acids to get incorporated into cell membranes and start making a difference.
So when you unpack your groceries you should see a rainbow of colour, particularly from the vegetables and fruits because they provide all the nutrients that help deal with the inflammation and help to counter the pain but the other healthy food groups are your breads and cereals and in that group go for everything that is high fibre, wholemeal or wholegrain because that will help keep you regular and that's really important with pain medications.
In your protein foods go for the leanest varieties available, so that's lean red meat, chicken breast and fish and seafood.
You can also focus on the vegetarian sources of protein, so that's your canned and dried beans and lentils and things like tofu.
in the dairy products go for reduced fat or skim varieties of milk, custard, yoghurt.
And then we've already talked about the healthy fats.
There's a whole host of foods that shouldn't be making an appearance in your grocery list.
You probably know what they are, those ones high in saturated fat and high in sugar, so biscuits, potato crisps, lollies.
And don't forget about all the sweet drinks like soft drink, cordial and even fruit juice is really high in calories.
If I'm really frustrated and things are really bad I'm inclined to go and rush off and eat.
Therefore now I try to keep the kitchen clear of all the things that I can't eat, so that if I'm frustrated… I can’t… I can't do it, I've got relax and do something else, do something that's interesting go and play on the computer, do something to take your mind off it.
A healthy diet for someone in pain is actually the same for everyone else in Australia.
But there are some real extra challenges that you’re facing.
Friends and family might be coming around and bringing you chocolates and other treats to try and cheer you up and help you feel better but it's not really helping with managing your pain and there's the practical things like shopping, cooking and being able to prepare the foods that you used to love and that were healthy.
When it comes to the convenience foods there are going to be times when you are in too much pain to actually make a home prepared meal but you know rather than getting a home delivery pizza or home delivery meal, go to the frozen food section and get some of the convenience meals and they'll actually have a heart foundation tick or indicate that they're healthy and you can combine those with frozen vegetables.
Sticking to that on a regular basis is going to make a difference to your pain overtime and it really, truly is worth the effort.
if your losing weight or your not able to eat those healthy food groups then a multi-vitamin with mineral maybe of benefit.
Then there's a whole host of other supplements that come from you know, the chemist, or the supermarket or health food shops and you need to discuss those with your health care professional.
Some of them can be dangerous because they'll interfere with other medications you may be on.
And one of the things I first noticed was my eating patterns were just out of control.
I couldn't sleep at night so I'd get up, I'd go to the cupboard and grab the first thing that was there.
So one of the first things I knew I needed, was help, that I couldn't do it just on my own to start with.
So I went and worked with someone on a proper plan um… and one of the things that I did that helped me because I didn't have the energy at that stage to go and buy all the vegetables, to cook, to do all this, was for just three weeks to get myself um… a proper delivery… food that was delivered to me, was nutritious and that was um… was worked out through a dietician um… and that two things that it really did for me: one was that it got me eating regularly, the second thing it got me eating food that was nutritious and that I started to enjoy.
When I did that and started to lose weight then I got motived, um… and then I could take the control of myself.
But it doesn't happen overnight, you know, I needed help to do that.
I was a heavy drinker and um… I essentially gave it up overnight.
It's had a tremendous affect on my appetite.
I've now got appetite back again and I didn't realise that the alcohol was… was my food intake basically, and I wasn't fussed about food, eating food and of course now I'm not, I’m not… drinking to the extent that I was, food is marvelous, it's marvelous stuff.
I feel better now then I've felt for years.
I had to really you know, take everything a step back and… cook really healthy, no more take aways, no more laziness of just darting down the shop and getting whatever and putting it in the microwave it had to be all healthy meals so that, you know, I could lose weight and it wasn't me just making comfort crappy foods all the time when I was depressed you know, we would have a barbie's and having salads and getting out the back and the rest of the family eat healthy as well but definitely diet and when you can't exercise diet and looking after yourself is a big thing.
I've lost weight, my energy levels are better and the pain is just so much better.
Healthy food can make such a difference to the way you feel and especially when you’re in pain.
it is challenging but it's really worth the effort.
Take your first step today and hang in there - you will make a difference over time.
Now is a great time to fill out the lifestyle and nutrition section of your health plan.
If you haven't already done so click on the health plan button below the video and download the PDF.
Print it out.
After each video fill out the relevant sections.
You only have to fill it out once.
Take your completed health plan along to your GP or your health professional.
This is a great starting point to managing your pain.