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The Dirty Dozen: Foods Stroke Survivors Should Avoid

Recovering after a stroke can be a complicated and overwhelming experience. There are so many things to consider, and recovery can require an overhaul of everything from your diet to your lifestyle to your physical activity. However, the good news is that with the right resources and support, you can ensure that your rehabilitation will be as smooth and simple as possible.

First, be sure to talk to your doctor about all of your after-care concerns. Bring a family member or trusted friend with you because they can help you remember important information as well as ask questions to help clarify information. It can be a lot to take in, especially as you are still adjusting and recovering, so having an extra set of ears to listen is crucial. It’s also a good idea to take a pen and paper and jot down notes. You can do this before your visit as well to help you remember questions and concerns that you want to ask your doctor, as it is easy to forget these points when in the middle of the visit.

Your doctor will likely talk to you about the crucial role that a healthy diet will play in your recovery. So we know the significance of a nutritious diet when it comes to safeguarding your health. Here is a list of some of the foods that we recommend stroke-recovery patients avoid as they begin the rehabilitation process:

1. Red meat:

It’s important to decrease fat intake following a stroke. Opt instead for lean proteins such as chicken breast or turkey burgers.

2. Whole dairy products:

High-fat milk products such as 2 percent or whole milk and full-fat cheese should be avoided. Make the switch to skim or opt and low-fat cream cheese and dairy products.

3. Butter replacements:

Some so-called ‘healthy’ foods can be high in trans-fats, such as butter replacements and margarines. They might have a lower calorie count but that doesn’t mean that they are good for you.

4. Processed foods:

Processed foods such as frozen meals are often high in sodium (a big no-no for stroke recovery patients). Go for fresh meals whenever possible.

5. Salty snacks:

Avoid salty junk foods like pretzels to help limit your sodium intake.

6. Donuts and pastries:

Bakery goods are delicious but not only are they often highly processed, they also are high in fat and made with rich dairy products. Swap out these items for sweet and delicious fruit items such as a light sorbet or fresh berries.

7. Fried chicken:

When selecting lean proteins, remember that it is still important to avoid eating the skin and not to go for the dark, fatty cuts. Think lean and light.

8. Whole eggs:

Eggs can be a healthy part of your diet, but they can also be high in cholesterol. To enjoy eggs in a healthy way, simply swap out the yolk for egg whites. For example, instead of having a fried egg sandwich with hashbrowns, go for an egg-white omelet stuffed with veggies with a side of fruit and whole-wheat toast.

9. French fries:

It’s also good to avoid foods that are cooked in oil. Instead, opt for foods that are baked or broiled. Remember, if it is has the word “fried” in the description, it’s not a healthy option.

10. Lunch meat:

Some foods that seem light and healthy are actually quite high in sodium, such as lunchmeat. Instead of lunchmeat consider a light lunch option like salad, yogurt, or a veggie wrap. Or opt for a reduced sodium variety.

11. Ranch dressing:

Speaking of salad, remember that not all salad dressings are created equal. Look for salad dressings that are low in fat and calories, such as a light raspberry vinaigrette. A simple balsamic vinaigrette with olive oil and balsamic vinegar is easy to make and delicious as well.

12. Alcohol:

Be sure to ask your doctor about guidelines for alcohol consumption. He may suggest that you avoid it all together or that you only enjoy it in moderation.

Remember, a healthy diet will be a key part in helping you to recover from your stroke as well in helping you to safeguard your health in your future. Talk to your doctor before beginning any diet program.

By: Sharon Maguire, MS, RN, GNP-BC, Vice President of Quality and Clinical Operations at BrightStar Care

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"Remember, a healthy diet will be a key part in helping you to recover from your stroke as well in helping you to safeguard your health in your future."

The Low-Down on Low Sodium

Every doctor will recommend that a stroke survivor cuts salt from their diet, but how could something so good, be so bad? When ingested, sodium increases your bodies retention of fluid, which leads to high blood pressure.

And just because you don’t sprinkle it on, doesn’t mean it’s not in there. Most of the sodium we ingest arrives in the form of processed foods. Carefully read the labels on meats, sauces, cheeses, and snacks, to avoid high-sodium products.

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