my md diet
Before doing anything, please note:
I AM NOT A DOCTOR. The information contained herein is offered as an account of my experience in living with Meniere’s Disease. Please do not attempt to follow the same regimen I do without seeking the advice and approval of your own doctor.
In researching MD and all of the unknowns surrounding the disease, one thing stands out: Diet can have a dramatic impact on the severity of symptoms for most MD patients. As you probably know by now, there is no known cure for MD at this time. The best you can hope for is to manage your symptoms in a way that allows you to lead a relatively normal life. Through a great deal of research, and learning from the experience of others, I have found that diet plays a major role in managing the symptoms of MD.
My research has shown that the following things should be avoided completely or limited in a diet designed to manage MD symptoms:
- Sodium (Salt): limit intake
- Sugar: limit intake
- Alcohol: avoid completely
- Caffeine: avoid completely
- Tobacco: avoid completely
In addition to limiting and avoiding certain foods, it is worth noting that eating on a regular basis, at regular intervals, is beneficial as well. It’s not obvious why this is the case, but it seems that regulation of blood sugar is beneficial in treating the symptoms of MD.
By the numbers
So, what does “limit intake” mean exactly. The answer is “it depends”. This is where the advice and guidance of your doctor comes in. Since many doctors are not familiar with MD, I would recommend that you seek the advice and guidance of a doctor who specializes in Meniere’s Disease treatment. (You can check the Vestibular Disorders Association website for links on finding ENT doctors who specialize in MD).
For me, I’ve found that these rules seem to work well:
- I limit my sodium intake to no more than 100 mg every 4 hours. In general, I try and stay under 750 mg of sodium intake per day. I’m not just talking about table salt. You have to read the labels of everything you eat! Some foods you might not expect contain sodium (even natural foods like celery for instance).
- I try and limit sugar intake to no more than 25 g every four hours.
- I completely avoid alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. I used to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, and a cup of coffee with dessert was always nice, but I’ve found that feeling better was more important to me than either of these things. I was never really a smoker (an occasional cigar now and then), so giving up tobacco was no big deal.
So, what do you eat?
When I decided I was going to get myself well again, I made a conscious effort to avoid prepared and processed foods. Things like canned vegetables and cold cuts, for instance, are loaded with preservatives, salt and sugar. In their place, I started eating “whole foods”, or foods that had not been processed significantly. Frozen vegetables tend not to have the salt and other preservatives that canned vegetables do.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not easy. When I first started this diet, I read every label of everything I bought in the supermarket. Grocery shopping, in the beginning, took me hours. But, in the end, it was worth it.
To keep things simple, I generally try and find foods that have no more than 100 mg of sodium per serving. One thing to note is serving size. Some companies play games with their serving size, in order to make the numbers look better. Check the serving size, sodium, sugar and I also look for little or no preservatives.
The best way to deal with MD is to arm yourself with information. I’ve listed some resources that I found helpful in my early days of dealing with MD. Also, if you check Facebook you’ll find support groups that can answer questions from a patient’s perspective, rather than the dry clinical info you get from medical professionals.