Changing Diet to Appease PH Was a Struggle, But Worth It

Rebecca Lidenberg avatar

by Rebecca Lidenberg |

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Let’s face it: It’s HARD to eat right. Add pulmonary hypertension on top of that? (Eye roll.)

When I was first diagnosed with PH my doctor recommended I remove certain things from my diet. Alcohol. Salt. Sugars. All I kept thinking about was how wine and bacon were my favorite things. Is nothing sacred anymore?!

I decided I wasn’t going to listen to my doctor. I’d take all my medications, and that should fix it, right? I mean, I still have a life, and what is life without wine and bacon?

It wasn’t until I started feeling worse that I realized maybe my crazy doctor wasn’t so crazy after all. I was constantly bloated and short of breath. My skin ached from being stretched so tightly. After some blood work showed my liver enzymes were through the roof, indicating pre-liver failure, I finally decided that I was done trying to fight my doctor’s advice.

I went cold turkey. I cut out all alcohol and removed added salt from my diet. I cleaned my cupboards of anything processed, or pre-made. There is an absurd amount of sodium in pre-made meals. I already had been a pretty decent home cook, but a low-salt diet was definitely tricky and hard to get used to. I now make 99% of my meals, and my husband’s, at home. On the rare occasion we eat out, I know that salt is the reason the food tastes so good. But I always pay for it. My fingers instantly puff up, and my stomach bloats.

Fresh items are now pretty much all that’s in our household. And I’ve found there are some great, low-sodium snacks, such as dehydrated fruit, homemade bread for toast, and yogurts. I add fresh garlic, ginger, and lemon to almost everything. It adds fantastic flavor without the need for salt.

Do I miss wine? Sure, sometimes. But it’s never worth the risk of my liver giving out on me, so I just stock up on La Croix instead. If you’ve never tried La Croix, it’s a flavored fizzy water. There are no calories, sugar or sodium in it. A lot of people don’t love them, and they might take some getting used to, but I am slightly (OK, heavily) obsessed with them. I find if I’m ever craving something sweet or salty, one La Croix will help fill me up so I’m not reaching for a bag of pretzels.

It’s not easy to live on a strict diet. It takes discipline and planning, and a dash of indulgence every now and then. But I can say I have never felt better. My doctors love the results. I love the results. Those crazy doctors might just know what they’re talking about after all.

Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


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