Fatty Liver can be life-threatening. And like any life-threatening disease, it is difficult to cope with Fatty Liver. As I have said before when my doctor diagnosed me with Fatty Liver, I went through a range of emotions in a very short amount of time. Especially “Rejection”! Rejection about the diagnosis, the seriousness of fatty liver (how can be liver be fatty?), and the need for lifestyle changes – all went through my mind. Beyond that, when my doctor actually provided me with the information about the likely seriousness of the disease, I felt lost and depressed.
So How Do You Cope With Fatty Liver?
For the last couple of years, I have learned to not only cope with NAFLD, I actually reversed it as of November 2021! Here are 7 important tips I have learned since then that I would like to share:
#1. Be Kind To Yourself
Please understand this is going to be a journey and there is no right way or wrong way to respond. Since it is a long game, there will also be setbacks. Through all of this, I urge you to forgive yourself and move on to doing different things from then on. I will give you an example:
About 8 months after my diagnosis, I had a bad injury that required me to take prescription corticosteroids for 2 weeks. The injury got better, but my diet was totally shattered. I was hungry all the time (side effect), I gained 15 pounds in 4 weeks and I couldn’t quite exercise enough because I was supposed to rest and let my injury heal. I felt trapped and worried, and with every bite I ate, I felt guilty.
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That is when a close friend of mine told me to forgive myself and start small. Just like I had done in the beginning. Replacing one meal at a time with salads and soups. It took me two months to get back to my diet and lose all of that access weight, but it happened. However, without that piece of advice, I was going to get into a spiral.
Be Kind. Setbacks are ok. Focus on the next moment.
Sometimes to cope with fatty liver means just forgiving yourself, being kind to yourself, and looking forward to the future.
#2. Find The Right Support To Cope With Fatty Liver
Moving this disease out of your system takes time. It is much easier to say “lifestyle” change than actually do it. During my journey, I also realized that the more support you have, the better off you will be. So my recommendation is to actively find support.
Don’t go it alone, share and reach out.
Let me start by saying – take your time to process things. Then, share. I started by sharing with my close family and then after some time I also shared with my friends. No, not just the condition itself, but also what could happen if I do not get better.
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People are just not familiar with Fatty Liver or NAFLD. So it is important to share at least the possible ramifications of you not getting better.
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I found my wife running interference whenever I was making poor choices. During a party, it is customary for any host to gently ask you to eat more or drink more to have more fun. Guess what? Not only did my friends stop asking me to drink, but some of them also reached out before the party to have at least one menu item that I could eat.
So my advice here is to just share. Not everyone will react the same way, however, your well-wishers will provide support in their own way. Support from friends and family is a big factor in helping cope with fatty liver.
Ask for help to cope with Fatty Liver.
Ask for help. Yes – your doctor, nutritionist, dietician, psychiatrist, friends, and family are all great resources to reach out for help?
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Who else? There are online forums, youtube channels where experts provide help on this very thing! I have provided a few of the resources below that may help.
Maintain social ties.
Don’t cut off social ties. Maintaining social ties when you are down may feel like a strain. Lifestyle changes are stressful. Spending more time socially, and being with friends and family helps in reducing stress.
Join A Support Group.
Support and good advice can come from many sources. Sometimes getting help from strangers helps cope with fatty liver because you can ask for advice freely and without judgment. Here are a few I would recommend:
Great non-profit with a lot of guidance on mental health and wellness. This website is not specific to NAFLD, but the content is very helpful nonetheless. I highly recommend it. Please visit the Help Guide website.
4. Fatty Liver Tricks and Trips delivered to your inbox [#link]
5. Dr Berg’s YouTube Channel (Not specific to the fatty liver channel)
6. John Hopkins Medicine Fatty Liver Q&A (Great resource)
#3. Give Yourself Time To Cope With Fatty Liver
Reversing Fatty Liver takes time. Getting started with the journey takes time too. And that is ok! The good news is that fatty liver is reversible when caught early. The last thing you want to do is panic and make bad decisions.
Make a plan. Small goals, one achievement at a time. You will get there!
Let’s be clear, depending on what your situation is, you may not have a lot of time before you start doing something about fatty liver. However, take time to digest the news and also to make a plan. Hone in on where to start and how to proceed. Write down some goals.
This is how you get started coping with fatty liver. Small goals, and one achievement at a time.
#4. Stress Is Normal
Stress is expected. However, it is also counterproductive. To cope better with fatty liver, it is critical to make a plan to relieve the stress. Here are some ideas:
Write In A Journal
It’s a cliche! I know. However, it is also helpful. Journal / Blog / Vlog / TikTok – pick your medium and go for it. You can keep it private or make it public. It is always cathartic to get your feelings out. If you do end up creating something that you are ready to share and that can help others going through Fatty Liver, please let me know. I would be happy to add it as part of the resource list here.
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Find A Physical Hobby
You think this is another cliche – don’t you? I have an ulterior motive here. Note that I use the word “physical“. Get a hobby that helps you move. The first thing you will hear after learning that you have fatty liver is that you need to diet and exercise. So, finding a hobby that helps you move is going to help in the long run. While it could be any hobby, having a hobby that makes you move is most ideal. Some ideas?
- Geocaching (surprise!)
- Dancing (even slow dancing)
- Nature Photography (and you can make some money)
- Table Tennis
- Paddle boating/rowing
If you have more ideas, please share. I would love to add to this list.
Spend Time In Nature
You will get two things. Mental relaxation and exercise. Both are extremely important to beat fatty liver.
Don’t Bottle Up Your Emotions
Finally, talk to someone. Frequently if you must. This could be a friend, family, or a professional. I have seen people talk to their audience on TikTok and share their emotions. Whatever works best for you.
#5. The Internet Is Full Of Misleading Information, Be Careful
This is the biggest reason I started this blog. There is so much bad information online. Already there are very few scientific studies on Fatty Liver, there are no medicines that help with it and very few sites that provide good information. This makes coping with Fatty Liver extremely hard. However, you will find many fad-fans touting one diet or the other and claiming that to be a silver bullet. The truth is nothing is a silver bullet when it comes to NAFLD. So, please take time to find the right advice as bad advice can:
- Worsen your condition. For example, don’t blindly follow diet fads like Keto because while Keto may reduce weight but can also worsen fatty liver. You will hear incorrect things about milk and eggs. There are a couple of liver-friendly keto diets for fatty liver
- Make you feel worse. There are people who claim they reversed fatty liver within weeks. It’s simply untrue. It takes months, if not years.
- Lead to bad decisions. Bad decisions include consuming supplements that cause other problems, exercise that leads to injuries, and diets that make you weaker.
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#6. Make A Plan To Cope With Fatty Liver
Here is the best advice I received when I started my journey – don’t try to do everything at the same time. There is an overwhelming number of things to do. You will be told to do exercise, diet, eat more veggies, eat less quantity, intermittent fasting, hydrate and meditate, etc. It is frustratingly mind-boggling. And you will be inclined to do everything and then burn up in two weeks. Instead, take small steps. Do you know the first step I took?
Start with one or two things. I started with only 1 and kept doing it for 2 weeks. It made a huge difference because it was a small goal and I wasnt burnt out.
I just made large salads to replace one meal in my day. Large salads that made me feel full. That’s it! I kept adding other things to my plan every 2 to 3 weeks. [#makeaplan][#link]
#7. Get Active
I feel like even though I have covered this topic before, this needs its own step. Sedentary life is a big contributor to the development of a Fatty Liver. So why not get more active. Getting more active doesn’t need to be something elaborate. Fixing things around the house, cleaning the house more often, standing at work – every little bit of additional movement is going to count.
Start thinking in terms of 10-minute blocks. Get 10 minutes of exercise (fast walk to and fro in the hall is still walking) early in the morning. Then get 10 minutes of exercise in the evening. That’s 20 minutes of exercise done! Try to get to 30 minutes most days!
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Coping with Fatty Liver is tough but possible. I hope you feel better soon. I also hope that you find the help you are looking for. The good news is that fatty liver is often reversible with a little work.
If you have further questions or need my help, please contact me.