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Struggling with diet (and everything else)

Discussion in 'Your Living Room' started by Chris Bryant, Nov 5, 2019.

  1. Chris Bryant

    Chris Bryant New Member

    Nov 5, 2019
    Hi all,

    My name is Chris and I was recently diagnosed with Ménière’s after 3 years of attacks being noted as simply stress/exhaustion or labyrinthitis.

    I have recently been my first moulded hearing aid for my effected ear (right) as I have severe loss of mid and low frequencies and currently back on 16mg betahistine 3 times a day with ‘emergency’ prochlorperazine tablets for under the gum in event of attack.

    I’ve found this medication to be ok, but doesn’t really stop anything, perhaps just makes it less violent. Bouts are still regular, usually once or twice a day, lasting anywhere from 20mins to 4hrs with the following exhaustion.

    I’ve also started acupuncture and although I don’t think it’s helping Ménière’s as such, i think it does help my level of anxiety/stress.

    The thing I’ve just started to focus on is my diet, as I think it really is the thing that triggers me most.

    That’s said, I’m really struggling to determine what a low sodium diet can be and looking for any recommendations.

    To note, I’ve cut out alcohol completely as it was simply no longer an option and I’m now thinking of stopping caffeine in its entirety too, even decaf, as I feel days I do dabble are worse.

    I’m about to try B5/B6 and magnesium supplement combo that I recently read about too, but keen mostly on hints/tips people have for keeping sodium under 1.5 as it seems really tough!

    I’ve found a good low salt breakfast cereal which I eat with yoghurt and blueberries but struggle with lunch and dinner, especially mixing it with family meal requirements.

    If anyone has any great tips/ menus they follow, I would really love to hear from them.

    Anything would be much appreciated!
  2. PleaseNoDizzy

    PleaseNoDizzy Member

    May 12, 2014
    This can be so tough. I did it, more or less, for 7 years until I had a laby in 2018. I might have to go back on it soon, not sure. It's especially challenging when you are also feeding a family. In my case, I have three (varying) picky kids to feed as well as a low-carb husband. You lose a lot of convenience shortcuts and will be cooking more from scratch. Just an example... tacos:
    -Corn tortillas/shells are typically sodium free (!) as compared to flour tortillas which are loaded with sodium. Check labels. I'd get the crunchy corn taco shells that were store brand at Safeway.
    -Seasoning for ground meat: easy enough to mix it from scratch. Google a recipe for "taco seasoning mix" and omit the salt. Make sure you get fancier spices (like chili powder etc) from somewhere that doesn't add salt as a preservative, which most of the spices on the grocery store shelves do. I'd get mine from Penzy's which we have locally but you can also order online. Mix a bunch and put it in a tupperware so it's easy to use for many future meals.
    -Black beans - buy "no sodium added" canned. Has like 10mg. Refried beans from a can are out of the question.
    -Everything else in the taco is straightforward fresh ingredients and no/low salt. Lettuce, etc. I try to go easy on the shredded cheese since that can have more, but can't go without cheese on my taco! Same for sour cream.

    That's just one tiny example but it's a meal that the whole family eats, at least in my house. I basically forced the whole family to go low-sodium all that time. They were free to sprinkle some on their plate after I cooked. Funny enough, after i had my surgery and was back to functioning, I'd make "normal" meals (not lo-so) and it took us all a while to adjust to the taste again. You miss it at first, but your palate adapts. Same thing in reverse.
  3. Clare

    Clare Active Member

    Mar 31, 2018
    Chris, I found that grilling food was a good way to get flavor without salt. My general guidelines were to avoid processed or prepared foods, sausages and bacon, cheeses in quantity, and to read labels on canned foods. Canned tomatoes, beans, and soups can have huge amounts of sodium without tasting salty. Condiments (ketchup, pickles, soy sauce, etc.) should be avoided or used sparingly. Mozzarella and other fresh cheeses are sometimes lower in sodium than the aged cheeses, but still have to be used in small amounts. Imported canned tomatoes often have lower sodium than the American brands; check the numbers. Make a simple vinegar and oil salad dressing (toss in some dried or fresh herbs if you like) instead of the bottled stuff; it tastes better too.

    If you search for low sodium recipes or low sodium blogs, you can find lots of ideas. Here's one from Whole Foods: Our Favorite Low-Sodium Recipes

    Silver lining -- you'll become a better cook! Best of luck to you.
  4. Onedayatatime

    Onedayatatime Active Member

    Nov 22, 2016
    Chris, Make sure you read up on MAV. Buchholz's "heal your headache" and his diet changed my miserable existence. I was diagnosed with menieres by three separate ENT/OTO/NEURO type Doc's. The last one finally started treating me for Migraines when my pre-surgical testing indicated normal vestibular function. I never had bad headaches. Go figure.
  5. Rebecca

    Rebecca Member

    Jan 19, 2019
    Hi Chris. I was diagnosed with MM several years ago and have followed a not salt, low sodium diet. My ENT recommended below 1000 - 1200 mg a day sodium. This includes the natural sodium in fresh foods. My daughter purchased a paperback book for me that lists the sodium content of most foods. It was really helpful. Using fresh, non processed foods is the best way to avoid too much sodium. I have found tons of spices, canned vegies, including tomato sauce and diced tomatoes for tacos, etc., that are no salt added. Even chili, chips, ketchup, and some sauces. Some of these items I order through Amazon, some I order from Walmart, and some I find in the better grocery stores. Just remember to read the labels for the sodium count sand figure that in your daily total. I was told it was better to spread the sodium intake out during the day, and not save up to ingest all of it in one meal. Sugar is also something that was recommended to be avoided as it raises the insulin levels, which with some MM sufferers, can trigger symptoms. I was also put on a diuretic. Also, to avoid caffeine and alcohol. This all being said, this all worked to help keep the symptoms to a very workable level, and I have not experienced a full blown vertigo attach for several years. I had some ear fullness, continual tinnitus though most times very manageable, and some days that I just didn't feel well. But, to the most part, I was in what some would consider a remission period. However, this past Jan, I started having severe fullness in my MM ear, extreme brain fog, times of terrible tinnitus, and a whole lot of terrible balance. Most days feeling like I would have full blown vertigo at any moment. On top of that, I'm experiencing tinnitus and a slight full feeling in my other ear. Back to my ENT I went. He started me on Betahistine. I have gone back to a REALLY strict no salt, no sugar, no alcohol, no caffeine diet. I requested, and he prescribed anti viral. Also taking L-Lysine So far, no real change. But, thankfully, I still am not experiencing bad vertigo spells. So, maybe the low sodium along with the meds, etc., are keeping it from that. I think the disease is just progressing because I've had it for so many years. I'm not telling you all this to discourage you. Actually to encourage you. I believe the low sodium, low sugar diet along with diuretics helped me to lead a much better life for several years. I hope you will find your groove, so to speak, with finding things you can eat. I found after a short time, I didn't miss salt at all.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
  6. Chris Bryant

    Chris Bryant New Member

    Nov 5, 2019
    Hi All,

    Many thanks for the advice, feel like I’m slowly starting to get my head around the diet thing.

    I’ve had a couple of attacks in the last few days, but have to admit, they have ‘almost’ been manageable. For one, they have only lasted 30mins instead of the 4hrs I’ve come to expect.

    I don’t know if it’s a sign of things improving thanks to diet/betahistine...or I’m just lucky to have a little break from the big guns.

    It’s great having this as a resource, but note a lot of the recommendations are for US stores and I’m away in Scotland.

    Ménière’s seems to be met as some super unknown here, where my ENT doctor has been understanding, he’s rarely discussed diet as important, more keen just to fire betahistine into me and send me home.

    I’ll definitely pick up Buccholz book, I’ve seen that mentioned a lot on here now and keen to know more.

    Thanks all again and hope you’ve had a manageable day!
  7. wendy

    wendy Member

    May 18, 2019
    Going low salt is definitely a learning curve. I have found that there are more products available now that are labeled no salt or low sodium which helps. Many bean products now have no salt added. I cook most of my own meals to control the sodium. Ezekiel breads has a no sodium version and I can buy corn tortillas with no sodium and a flour tortilla with only 85 MG. I use mostly Swiss cheese because it is lower in sodium and lots of spices for flavoring. Morton has a light salt which is 50 percent lower than regular salt, and I sprinkle that. Usually a few sprinkles and I am satisfied. I read the labels on everything and stay away from all processed foods
  8. Emily

    Emily New Member

    Apr 7, 2019
    I live in a more rural area of the US and have trouble finding low sodium canned foods/I dread shopping at Walmart. I have been keeping my sodium under 1g/day for almost a year and I've done it by making my own bread and tortillas (easier than it sounds), using fresh vegetables, fresh meat, and preparing beans from scratch (overnight soak and then boil for a few hours). And, FREEZE bulk amounts of prepared foods. A big part of my stress is having to cook a fresh meal from scratch three times a day. Keep cooked meatballs and beans in the freezer. Make a large casserole that you can dip into a couple times a week. Also, find a low sodium way to splurge: when I absolutely can't stand it anymore, I can cook up a no-salt pizza from scratch with a small amount of mozzarella and have what feels like a king's meal for less than 100mg/slice.

    When my siblings and I were babies we had various food allergies and my mom went to great lengths to explore foreign cuisines in order to satisfy our nutrition requirements. This is an absolute must. There is no way on earth I'd be able to eat a "typical" modern American diet and stay under 1g/day. Our culture is no longer organized around unprocessed food. Do some research on foreign cuisine, paying particular attention to those that emphasize freshness and not so much breads and dairy. You'll also be introduced to new spices and herbs that will add the flavor you will so desperately crave. Pasta, rice, corn, potatoes, and other grains are excellent 0 sodium options.

    My diet has been one of the most alienating parts of MM for me, so I'm right there with you... just like the vertigo, some days will be more manageable than others. Hang in there
  9. KaSchu

    KaSchu New Member

    Oct 25, 2019
    So sorry to hear you've joined our ranks, Chris. I love Scotland & have a close friend living in Glasgow. She complains about how Americans add sugar to everything and I hit back with how Scots add salt to everything! To be fair, she's totally right about the sugar thing and it's not like we don't throw in our fair share of salt, too. My favorite foods when I'm in the UK - curry, for example, are off-limits, which is so very frustrating.

    When I was first diagnosed, my doctor sent me to a dietician to help me figure out the diet. Is that an option for you?

    You aren't in this alone. :)

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