25/09/2014 09:01 BST | Updated 25/11/2014 05:59 GMT

What Matters Most

Most of us living with Parkinson's disease are on a cocktail of pills we ritually take each day. We can try to help maintain the dopamine levels to some degree by eating the right foods. A well balanced diet alone cannot of course replace Parkinson's medications, but ensures they work at an optimal level, improving one's general health. Some foods recommended can help the body to function better along with possibly helping increase dopamine levels naturally.

Proteins are high in amino acids which contribute to producing the chemical needed to stimulate dopamine and increase brain function. These protein foods are fairly obvious, and no doubt you already know eggs, poultry, red meat and oily fish which contains the Omega 3 that we all keep hearing about. There are countless vegetables recommended containing certain properties to help restore dopamine levels and I was surprised to find beetroot is packed full of goodness, which acts pretty much like an antidepressant, creating a feeling of well-being. I actually quite like beetroots, cooked or shredded raw in a salad, so I've been adding this brightly coloured vegetable to my diet recently. There is one problem with beetroots; however delicious and healthy they may be, I'm often reluctant to eat them, or serve to guests, for fear of dropping this vegetable that leaves deadly stains on clothing and especially a pristine white tablecloth!

Digressing slightly, but if you read on, you'll see where I'm going with this train of thought. My mother had a bone china tea set which I remember as a child being brought out only on special occasions. Although it always felt like a treat when this delicate tea set was carefully taken out of the cupboard, I thought it was a shame how rarely we used and enjoyed it. When I married and set up home with my husband, I curiously found myself doing the same thing, saving certain dishes or items to be used only for special occasions.

As odd as this may sound, being diagnosed with Parkinson's or any life changing illness, makes us look at life very differently. It's as if given an opportunity to do a personal stock taking, asking how one wishes to spend the remainder of one's life. Are you someone who sits in their familiar comfort zone on the side-lines and watches life pass by? Or do you get right into the thick of it, experience and live out your dreams utilising all your senses and living in the moment? I highly recommend enjoying to the maximum every day, as time itself, becomes all the more precious when you realise how fast it goes and how little there may be left.

Eight years ago when I was told "you have Parkinson's", I thought to myself, what a shame and waste letting my favourite and best things sit tucked away in a cupboard. Why shouldn't every day be special? So I began to enjoy using my special items regularly. If I end up breaking or spoiling something, it's not the end of the world, for at least I got pleasure from that item, instead of it gathering dust safely tucked away at the back of a cupboard.

Likewise, a tablecloth has not lived if it has no stains on it, for it has likely been folded neatly and sadly kept in a drawer for safekeeping. So if you own such a tablecloth that barely sees the light of day because it's beautiful or it belonged to your beloved grandmother; throw caution to the wind and put it on your table tonight. If your guests drop food or spill some red wine, don't panic or feel heartbroken; it's just a cloth. I had my immediate family over for dinner recently, thinking I had bitten off more than I could chew, I stepped up to the mark and produced a three course meal, a feat I thought I could no longer manage. As we laid the table, out came my white tablecloth and I smiled as I noticed the spots and stains which have appeared over the years, each mark a reminder of a happy family gathering. For at the end of the day, this is what we have and matters most; good memories we make along life's journey.