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Taking Small Steps with Macular Degeneration

When newly diagnosed with macular degeneration, you can quickly become overwhelmed with trying to make all the recommended lifestyle changes. Almost every day, a newly diagnosed age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patient reaches out for help. Quite often they are scared to death of going blind and feel woefully inadequate to manage life with AMD.

Today I want to share my own experience and offer hope with my approach to making healthy lifestyle changes to help slow the progression of my dry MD. What I found that works for me is from the old adage “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”.

Following the Mediterranean Diet

Let me first say, I do not like the word diet. It conjures up visions of depriving myself of everything I like to eat.

In a recent conversation with someone newly diagnosed, they shared how much they disliked almost all the foods recommended on the Mediterranean diet. I shared with her that taking small steps would be much easier than trying to overhaul her entire diet in a day.

Remember at the dinner table when your mother had this rule that you had to take at least one bite of anything new? Mom was right you know.

Changing tastebuds

As we age our taste buds change over time. You may find the food that you hated as a six-year-old may actually become a favorite. I knew Brussel sprouts were good for me but I really didn’t like them. I started out eating just one and after a few weeks, they became a favorite.

I found a couple of easy ways to get those leafy green veggies into my diet.

  • Omelets -  Adding foods such as spinach or broccoli is a sneaky way to get in a serving of greens
  • Soups- flavorful soups can disguise the taste of veggies you may not like alone

Editor's Note: Check out recipes with eye healthy ingredients!

Routine exercise

Remembering that Rome wasn’t built in a day, I started out slowly. It is important to find something you like to do.  For me, walking outdoors is what I enjoy. Even ten minutes of moderate exercise can improve health.1> I use my smartwatch to monitor my progress. Most days I walk 15-20 minutes at a pace of 2.5 mph. My biggest goal for exercise is to add steps. My goal is 7500 steps a day. Forget about efficiency when you are working around the house and aim for extra steps. Last weekend I hit 10,000 steps and I found I had more energy than days I sat around reading or watching television.

Losing excess weight

Today I weigh 45 pounds less than when first diagnosed with AMD. Mayo Clinic suggests setting realistic goals for weight loss.2 I set easy goals, just 5 pounds at a time. I lose very slowly so it took me 2 years to reach my goal weight.

For me, maintaining a weight loss is the hardest part. Weighing daily is my tool for keeping myself honest about my weight and is backed up by research.3 Weighing daily may not be for you so find what works best for you.

Taking one step at a time

If you are embarking on making lifestyle changes to support your vision health, remember the elephant and start taking "small bites" to eat better, exercise, and lose that extra weight you are carrying around. Your eyes will thank you for it!

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