little mood boosters

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when you have parkinson’s, your mood can go south quickly and out of nowhere. you may have a wearing off period or side effect from your medication, you suddenly get fatigued, or if you’re like me, you can get a little foggy (it sort of feels like fireworks are going off in my brain). when you’re having a challenging day, sometimes just doing something small can pick you up and make you feel a little better. it sort of interrupts the cycle just long enough to get you back on track. so i’ve found little mood boosters that can help.

~ go outside and just look at the sky

~ take a walk

~ listen to an inspirational podcast or audio book (if you need suggestions email me i have a bunch i like)

~ read a few pages of an inspirational or funny book

~ listen to some upbeat music

~ call or text a friend or family member

~ meditate

~ clean or declutter something that can be finished in one sitting

~ organize my to do & want to lists

~ watch a short funny video

~ be a tourist in your own city for the afternoon

~ dance or sing for five minutes

what things do you do that help boost your mood? ~kai

losing your sense of smell & taste

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one of the potential symptoms of parkinson’s is losing your sense of smell, which in turn lessens your sense of taste. foods become more bland and not as interesting. my coffee in the morning used to be an incredible experience of smell and taste first thing in the morning and although i still love the experience that comes with coffee and my morning routine, the coffee itself is definitely not as flavorful as it used to be.

as i’ve mentioned in a previous post, it might also be contributing to why my sweet tooth has increased. my taste buds might be seeking more extreme flavors to get satiated. so it can be easy to go overboard with salt or sugar while cooking without knowing it. so here are few things that can help boost the flavor quotient of food.

  1. vinegar & lemon juice - both of these can bring an extra depth of flavor to most dishes. you can add a tablespoon of vinegar during cooking or at the end, but use fresh lemon juice at the end of cooking to keep the flavor bright.

  2. citrus zest - aside from the juice, the zest with all the oils adds a wonderful intense citrus flavor. zest the fruit first and then juice it.

  3. spices - you can go in so many different directions with just the use of spices. spice blends are also a great. i have been loving sumac lately.

  4. herbs - fresh or dried they can add tremendous flavor to foods. if you can have a few pots of them growing, even better. something as simple as a large handful of chopped mixed herbs in an omelet can elevate the dish to something special.

  5. condiments - mustards, hot sauces, ko chu jang, harissa, & miso are all great ways to add an umami bomb of flavor.

  6. bitter vegetables - radicchio, endive, broccoli rabe, and mustard greens. adding these to salads, soups, stir fries can add a pop of interesting flavor.

  7. pomegranate molasses - this used to be an exotic ingredient but now can be found in many grocery stores or online. it’s thick and has a sweet and sour flavor and is delicious. add a spoonful to your vinaigrette, drizzle it over roasted vegetables, or brush it over cooked meats while they are resting.

    many of these spices and condiments will last for a long time, so i have a ton of them in my fridge. that way i can cook simply but change the direction with a different spice. i can pick up a package of chicken thighs and pan fry them with a mustard sauce, or smear them with a ko chu jang sauce and bake them, or simmer them in a curry sauce.

    have you started losing your taste and smell and if so what are some other ways that you add flavor to your foods?

    ~kai

can illness bring you joy?

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having parkinson’s can be difficult. there is not a day that goes by that it doesn’t stay top of mind. you have an invisible chain to your clock because you need to see if it’s time to take your medication. some days it’s difficult to get the energy to do the tasks for the day and to be your own best cheerleader.

but in spite of all the challenges, can illness bring joy to our lives? i say yes. it can bring into focus at laser speed the things and people that are most important in our lives. it can provide gratitude because we understand loss. it can teach us greater empathy to others when they are having a difficult day. it can bring us joy by learning to live and enjoy the present moment.

so when i’m having a down moment, i try to remember not only what parkinson’s has taken away, but what it has given me.

online parkinson's community

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i’m very happy with my doctors. hawaii has very few neurologists who are movement disorder specialists, and of those few a couple of them don’t take my insurance or are not taking any new patients, so i feel fortunate to have one. she is wonderful when i visit but i know she is also very busy, so if i need to email or call between visits, the communication is a little on the light side.

it also seems like those of us with parkinson’s are constantly adjusting our medications as our symptoms change, so when i started having some off periods and some anxiety, i thought i’d reach out to an open forum on the parkinson’s foundation website to see what sort of feedback i could get.

wow i had no idea the collective power and wisdom i would find on them. i posted my question and got some very thoughtful and varied responses. i also posted on their ask a pharmacist forum who is moderated by Mark Comes who is a pharmacist who also has pd and received some great feedback also.

of course it doesn’t replace the advice i get from my doctors, but sometimes the best advice comes from others in your same shoes and it’s wonderful to know that our pd community is ready and waiting to help. and by the way, i was also able to help by sharing my experiences with a others posting questions. if you know of other helpful forums please post them in the comments.

boy am i getting a sweet tooth

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i wasn’t really a dessert person growing up. yes i enjoyed sweet things occasionally but didn’t seek them out. but man has that slowly started to change over the last couple of years. then i started seeing articles popping up about parkinson’s and whether it increases you’re wanting sweet things. i don’t know if it’s true or not but one of them mentioned that since many of us with parkinson’s lose our sense of smell (which in turn lessens our sense of taste) that we might be seeking things with a sweeter flavor to compensate.

in any event, each night after dinner, i could really use a piece of cake, or pie, or ice cream! but i try to eat pretty healthfully so i had to figure out a strategy to reign in the beast and here is what has been working for me so far.

some people can have a bag of potato chips in the pantry and eat a few with a sandwich and put it back until they feel like it again. in my case, the bag of potato chips calls my name everytime i’m in the kitchen and i will eat potato chips every day until they are gone. but i know that about myself, so i only buy potato chips when i plan on eating them for a particular meal and purchase only enough for that meal. for me, out of sight out of mind so that goes for sweet things as well.

the next thing is i try to have sweet things only if i make them myself. that slows me down because although i want cookies everyday, i’m not going to bake them everyday and if i do bake them, i keep some for myself and give some away immediately. you’ll also be making a friend :)

the next line of defense is i do have dark chocolate in the house all the time. it’s very dark and strong so you really don’t want to each much, but a couple small squares in the evening is in most cases enough to keep the wolves at bay.

lastly if i do have leftover dessert, i wrap them into individually servings, freeze them, and put them in an extra freezer i have in my storage room. silly as it sounds, just having them removed from the kitchen helps me slow down and gives me one more opportunity to pass on them.

those of you that don’t have a sweet tooth are probably laughing but as i’m writing this i’m thinking of when can i make these salted butter & chocolate chip cookies. if you have any good strategies i’d love to hear them. XO Kai