I have always enjoyed preparing, cooking and eating food but things have become a little complicated in our household recently. Firstly, my seventeen old daughter has been diagnosed with IBS and is currently following a low FODMAP diet. This involves not only cutting out gluten and lactose, but also a strange array of things like garlic, onion and pulses. My culinary skills have been put to the test with trying to create a balanced diet for someone who isn’t that keen on vegetables and fruit either.

I usually shop online and have found that, with a bit of time, you can find the dietary composition of most products and that there is a wide range of ‘Free From’ foods available.

Meanwhile, although I am quite skinny, the years of having midnight snacks of cheese and lime pickle have caught up with me and I have been found to have high cholesterol. I am determined to reduce this so am trying to follow a low fat diet. Again, I have found a whole plethora of low or fat free products,  and there is no reason to compromise on taste. As I don’t need to actually loose weight my only issue is making sure I get enough calories. Apparently nuts contain the right kind of fat so I’ve had to swap my cheese and pickle to spoonful’s of peanut butter.

Our fridge is now fuller than normal with three types of milk, butter/spread and yoghurt; not to mention the gluten free jam, gravy granules and tomato ketchup – and all of this has financial implications as well.

The annoying thing about having high cholesterol is probably due to the lack of exercise I have taken due to having cerebral palsy. Ironically, I joined a gym last year and have been exercising more than I have done for quite a few years. I thought I would find the whole gym scene rather intimidating, being surrounded by muscle bulging, iron pumping young men less than half my age. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The instructor who gave me my induction was completely non-judgmental and willing to listen to my unconventional methods of how I get on, and off, machines. He wasn’t brainwashed with health and safety protocols and, together we came up with a realistic programme.

Although I feel very conspicuous when I enter the gym everybody is friendly and concentrating on their own personal exercise. While others challenge themselves to lift 50 kilograms of weights I have managed to double the time I spend on the cross trainer from six to 12 minutes! People don’t seem competitive – what matters is that we are all challenging ourselves to do that little bit more – however small (or in my case feeble!!) it might seem.

It’s a cruel fact that adults with cerebral palsy have an increased risk of developing a range of of chronic health conditions – which is why, at the ripe old age of 50, I have finally decided to eat a bit more healthily and take some gentle exercise. As the saying goes: “There’s life in the old girl yet!”

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