I was diagnosed with PMR in May 2019 and from the very start I was aware that one of the many possible side effects of pred was weight gain. Determined to minimise this occurring, I immediately increased my efforts to consume what was already a reasonably healthy diet by reducing further (but not completely) sweet and sugary treats. I cut out all alcohol as that wasn't something I was too bothered about.....allowed myself a few pieces of dark chocolate (85%cocoa solids) each day and one cake-type treat a day. (this did not mean a massive piece of cake though!) I continued to eat lots of fresh fruit and veg, chicken and fish, limited wholegrains, seeds, nuts, pulses, drank lots of water....and for a long time this worked well and my weight remained reasonably stable....with just a fluctuating 3 to 4lb weight gain over 20mths. THEN!.... a global pandemic hit and like many others, I ended up with this years Christmas plans in disarray and the disappointment of not having my son and his beautiful girlfriend of 13yrs to stay. I determined to make the most of it though, but a momentary lapse of focus (and common sense!) led me to believe it would be ok to allow myself a few extra treats under the circumstances! After all...it WAS Christmas, and I HAD been good for so long, and I DESERVED some respite, surely? So, I ate everything I wouldn't normally touch.....pastry, crisps, chips, cakes, biscuits, chocolates....... basically....high fat and high sugar foods. I had wine or prosecco most nights and showed little if no regard for what I was putting in my mouth. I thought it would make little difference for such a short period of time! (3wks)........WRONG!!!! ....... Unbelievably, I gained almost a stone in weight!!! Yes!... one stone!!.... and four inches around my waist!! I was so shocked and disappointed in myself and couldn't understand what had gone so terribly wrong.
What I knew....but clearly hadn't understood.......was that unlike pre-diagnosis, when I could have a little binge on holiday or when celebrating something without too much of a problem.....pred effects the way you metabolise food, and makes it much easier for sugar to be layed down as fat. Everything from absorption to digestion of food changes on pred and the effects are rapid and brutal if you don't respect that. All my previous efforts and resolve....down the pan! The stupid thing is, that often after I'd eaten a so-called treat, I'd realise that I hadn't actually enjoyed it as much as I thought I would and frequently wished I hadn't eaten it at all!
So.....what to do??? No time for regrets and moping. I've been back to my healthy eating habits for two weeks now and restarted my walks and gentle exercise and have already lost almost 3lbs. I know with focus and determination, I'll lose most, if not all of the weight I gained, but I'll NEVER, EVER make that mistake again.
I felt relating this experience might prevent someone else from falling into the same trap. The consequences of having PMR/GCA and being overweight are too serious to ignore, so hopefully , if you're thinking of having a 'binge' as some kind of a treat......please learn from my mistake...and think again! 🙂