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Overcome Prednisone Cravings with Spasthmatic Shef Sheila

Overcome Prednisone Cravings with Spasthmatic Shef Sheila

Prednisone is commonly given to those patients who are suffering from respiratory or auto-immune diseases. I have a special interview for you,  I have Chef Sheila the Spasthmatic Chef. She is a professional chef and she has to take prednisone to cope with her asthma.

We are so lucky because she also has a YouTube channel with amazing delicious delectable foods on there that she has designed for people taking steroids. I have the opportunity to interview her today about what she thinks about food and cravings and all of the food-related questions that we face when we’re on prednisone.

Her Prednisone Story

Chef Sheila: I’m a lifelong severe asthmatic. I’ve had a couple of different kinds of infections that happens when you take steroids because your immune system gets really tanked. Oh my gosh!

My highest dose is if you’ve ever had an asthma attack or been in the hospital they give you about 120mg every 4 hours and that is a loaded dose.

I mean you’re just and that goes for about four or five days sometimes. So you talk about getting that crazy steroid mania. If that happens, so I’d say that’s probably around the highest dose, the 120mg every 4 hours, and the lowest dose.

I have a problem with absorption. I think my lowest dose has been 32mg which is still a very high dose that is way high. Yeah,  it is and I have the side effects to prove it’s it the

steroids are a blessing and a curse for sure!

How Long have You Been taking Prednisone?

Chef Sheila: I’ve been a lifelong asthmatic and I think I got put on steroids when I was about 17. Then I was on and off steroids because I was incorrectly diagnosed as an emphysema patient. Which is crazy! I ended up moving from Philadelphia to national Jewish here in Colorado to get proper treatment and a proper diagnosis.

It was quite a journey getting to where I’m at. A lot of misinformation on the way but a ton of steroids because everybody gives you steroids for everything.
So, it’s been difficult but you know had to deal with it and learned and it kept working was able to work throughout and so it was a journey definitely. How I got in I’ve always been a chef.

I started being a chef when I was about 18. I worked in Marriott hotels all over the united states and then I worked as a chef for a college here in Colorado as a professional chef, I oversaw the entire school and all of our outlets.

My health kind of declined because the hours are long and it’s very difficult. So I stepped back and I started doing some different things. And I love the YouTube it’s so much fun! I love sharing the information. I love being able to teach people  different things they can eat.

What should you eat when taking prednisone?

Dr. Megan: Awesome! I’m so excited to find out more. When you’re on a high dose of prednisone what is your go-to snack?

Chef Sheila: Oh, that is great. So sweets are my thing and I love sweets but knowing that the steroids that I call the steroid monsters are in your head. They’re not telling you the best information so my go-to snacks are usually fruits. I try to keep it to strawberries bananas and I try to have blueberries. Biggest tip ever!

Get yourself the biggest box of blueberries. You can and keep it with you! You can just snack on those because it’s I don’t know what happens to your brain but you feel like you need to eat constantly. So, those blueberries really help. Gum blueberries are lifesavers. Anything that has low calories and you can just eat a lot of.

Dr. Megan: The fruits are important fruits are way important! so that kind of leads me to the next question. What do you think is the #1 best food to eat while you’re on prednisone.

Chef Sheila: Oh wow! So on prednisone, I guess it depends on what your dose is because you’re trying to avoid fat, oils, sugars. So my favorite food is going to be. I’m a vegetarian as well so I’m going to have something with nuts I like peanuts. I like peanut butter high protein as much protein as I can get when I’m on really high doses of steroids lower doses I think I eat more eggs and am very clean though.

So, I try to make it a very protein-rich diet because your muscles are breaking down from the steroids you’re having all of these different side effects. If you’re eating sugars, you’re going to have your sugars going up and down. You know it’s really important to have a high protein diet so my favorites are going to be peanuts nuts anything with peanut butter stuff like that.

Dr. Megan: I love that so it’s really something high protein.

Chef Sheila: I like that absolutely and mindfulness thinking about that making sure that you’re doing that it’s very important.

What to avoid on Prednisone

Dr. Megan: Mindfulness is so key. Okay, what do you think is the number one food to avoid while on prednisone?  you kind of hinted at it but something …

Chef Sheila: Sugar would probably be my #1. You know you crave the sugar, you want the sugar but

sugar is so bad for you because you start getting the diabetes symptoms and your sugars go up and down and then you really start having a lot of trouble.

Dr. Megan: Yeah and then fruit comes with fiber and all the other nutrients so it kind of balances vitamins.

Chef Sheila: Absolutely just I guess not indulging too much.
Dr. Megan: Yeah refined sugars are definitely the worst I think too so then based on that…

Her Prednisone Diet Strategy

Dr. Megan: What do you think is the ideal prednisone diet strategy? You said that you’re vegetarian so what do you think?

Chef Sheila: So that’s a really good question um I’m not a vegetarian because of the steroids I’m a vegetarian because I’m a chef and I have worked with all kinds of meats
and I just don’t want to ingest those so the best prednisone diet is that whatever you want, you know how to eat while you’re on prednisone.

So the best strategy is to plan your meals out!

That is to me, the very best strategy especially if you know you’re getting sick and you still have your energy and you’re still okay I usually set myself up a plan for success if I know I’m going to end up in the hospital and I know that I’m going to end up on high doses of steroids. I start planning my meals then so I might have like a smoothie package that I put together with fruits and bananas and have that in the freezer so when I get home.

Dr. Megan: I totally agree with that. Oh, man! So this is a direct quote from somebody’s post on Facebook they said, “how do you curb your appetite well on prednisone?”  I’m literally living out of my pantry! So what’s your tip?

Chef Sheila: *laughs* Oh my gosh! I can totally relate to that. And again I would say planning. You have to plan. but here’s my #1 thing get rid of the junk in your house because you will eat it you don’t have the willpower when you are on high doses of steroids. So, the only way that I have found that I can control myself a lot of times is I will just throw away cookies crackers. Any of that stuff and then I’ll put a lot of fruits and vegetables and be forced the other thing and this is a little snacky thing that helps get a big box of really good cereal.

It sounds silly but I’m telling you if it’s like cheerios or something that doesn’t have a lot of sugar make sure it’s healthy something you can keep putting in your mouth that has low-calorie low sugar fiber in it. That’s that will help with your appetite that you know you can just keep on eating and you’re not going to have all the side effects of huge calories and all that because really you just want something in your mouth it’s really what it comes down to you just want to put things in your mouth and so I think a big box of good cereal is a huge huge help!

Prednisone Insomnia

Dr. Megan: I heard from one guy once he’s like actually an entire box of cereal in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep.

Chef Sheila: So I made several boxes. Well, I definitely can understand that especially when you really got the munchies. I mean you just can’t it’s hard but another thing you can do through that I find very helpful is to drink a lot of water people say that but I’ve also got a little trick that helps me. I put a little bit of honey in the water or a little bit of sugar in the water not much just a little and that actually helps quite a bit also gum.

Chewing gum helps because you’ve got something in your mouth yeah it helps quite a bit.

Dr. Megan: Yeah, oh those are great tips so then my final question is what do you suggest to people who feel stuck since they are taking prednisone because they’re so sick they can’t get out of bed like they’re taking prednisone and they’re so sick they can’t be in the kitchen cooking. so what do they do I mean prepared right aren’t the best because they’re high in sodium. So what do you suggest?

Chef Sheila: Well, you know it’s that is a really good question. That’s where I revert back to the saying if it’s from the tree if it’s from the root if it’s from the ground so what I mean by that is eat as much raw!

As much as many things, raw as you can that you don’t have to prep do any kind of prep. Eat carrots, apples, anything you can. Just you know comes from a garden that you can just wash off and eat. that doesn’t always work for everybody but that’s one way that you can help yourself and not have to put a lot of energy you know the other thing that’s been very helpful are these new the way the stores are delivering.

Dr. Megan: Yeah

Chef Sheila: That is a huge help so you can go and you can look at all the products. You can look at all the different things and can build yourself a super healthy menu and have it delivered to you! So that’s you know and if you’re wanting to spend money there is the “freshnlean company”.

online shopping

I don’t know if you’re familiar with them not it is incredible they put together I do the vegan and they put together like tofu rice and some excellent vegetables and it’s low sodium! Low oil. It’s made for just popping in the microwave. So that’s another really good way to take care of yourself you know and then there’s always soup. You can always do low-calorie soup and watch the sodium.

Because it gets anything that’s easy that you buy a lot of times has a lot of sodium. And, I think people forget that because what they’re doing is. They’re looking for the sugar but then they sneak in all the sodium, and then you have other problems. So those are some of my tips.

Dr. Megan: Those are amazing tips. I love it this has been so incredibly helpful I think everybody who’s watching this should go check out Chef Sheila the asthmatic chef on her youtube channel she’s got way more great information on there this was just a taste just a bite of what you can find over on her youtube channel and not only that but she has a cookbook you can do this at home so you want to tell us about your cookbook.

Chef Sheila: Oh wow thank you so much! Yeah, I have. So I actually have 2 books. “I’m So Hungry” and “I’m Still Hungry” because when you take steroids you never stop being hungry.

Shef Sheila's books

You just continually are hungry so in the 2nd book that came out, it’s a colored version. I think it has a lot of fruits and vegetables and very easy recipes. If you aren’t feeling well you know there are a couple of challenging ones but not all of them are super easy. Not all of them are super hard depending on what you want to do so. I think you and it’s got a little story in there and it gives you tips and tricks on what you can do when you’re taking steroids.

So, hopefully, if you guys go out and get it you enjoy it! And it’s very helpful with the YouTube channel, you can always ask me questions in the comment box!

Dr. Megan Milne, PharmD, BCACP

Dr. Megan Milne, PharmD, BCACP, is an award-winning clinical pharmacist board certified in the types of conditions people take prednisone for. Dr. Megan had to take prednisone herself for an autoimmune condition so understands what it feels like to suffer prednisone side effects and made it her mission to counteract them as the Prednisone Pharmacist.

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