Home » Multiple Sclerosis » Lifestyle Change Ain’t Too Easy

Lifestyle Change Ain’t Too Easy


It’s been a little over 10 weeks since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). At my spinal tap appointment, the neurologist presented my husband and I with packets/binders of information on three different pharmaceuticals. We were supposed to choose one of the three and, if the diagnosis was positive, return to him with our decision.

We didn’t open any of them.

It just didn’t make sense that a person is diagnosed with a disease and the only option presented for treatment are drugs. Chemically crafted concoctions… to inject into one’s body. Really? That’s it?

Thank God for the Internet. There is so much information about MS on the web. It can be overwhelming at times, but we soon discovered a commonality with alternative treatments. Food. Managing my MS with how I eat, and dealing with the side effects of losing weight and improving my all around health, sounded like the right thing to do for me.

Over the past two months, I’ve read about the Paleo diet, Swank diet, and Anti-Inflammation diet. Not diets for losing weight mind you, although it is a nice side effect, but diets for a permanent lifestyle change to improve overall health and to treat my MS.

Dairy-Free

What really hit home for me was the recommendation to cut dairy. I’m lactose intolerant. Ironically, I love creamy and cheesy foods. My favorite soups are creams of this or that, my favorite dessert is ice cream, and I can’t get enough cheese. Boy, how I love cheese! After consuming dairy, I feel congested, phlegmy, and sluggish. Because of this, I had already reduced my dairy intake.  Since my diagnosis, I continued to reduce my dairy intake to almost nothing. It’s only been in the past week that I have entirely removed it from my diet.  My last piece of pizza was Sunday, May 9… mmmm… yummy melted cheese on pizza! My last ice cream was also May 9 – in celebration of Mother’s Day with the kids… mmmm… Coldstone!

What’s been interesting to observe this past week is that I continue to feel congested, and it seems to be worse! The skin around my chin and jaw line has broken out, which usually doesn’t happen unless it’s my time of the month. I can only assume it’s just my body clearing up the dairy residue. I wonder how long it will last and how I’ll feel once I’m completely cleared up. Maybe my voice will change!

Both the Paleo and Anti-Inflammation diets recommend to stop eating dairy products as well as gluten.

Gluten-Free

Maple Bacon Bar

Maple Bacon Bar

Oh noes! I grew up learning that bread, cereal, and grains are the foundation of the food pyramid and should be eaten at every meal. Hoo boy, this would be a little more challenging, but certainly doable. I’ve replaced my weekday morning oatmeal with a piece of grilled chicken and handful of baby carrots. No more sandwiches, which were great for on the go meals/snacks. No more pasta. Sigh. No more pastries. NO MORE VOODOO DOUGHNUTS!! Cries.

The last gluten product I ate was wheat berries in a salad on May 12. And you know what? I’ve been feeling really good this past week! Clearing my diet of dairy and gluten has allowed me to discover that when I start “losing it” – feeling very tired, getting a bad headache, being grumpy – I need to eat.

The Most Important Ingredient

Cutting food groups from one’s daily diet sounds simple enough, but it’s a lot harder than it sounds! Did you know the most important ingredient for any recipe is time? I sometimes wonder if giving myself an injection would be a decent trade off for finding time to prepare food. The direct exchange of time would be worth it. But the long term effects are not. In a way, I am thankful that MS has motivated me to finally quit dairy altogether, and encourage me to learn more about diet and nutrition. It’s good information that benefits anyone, not just people who are sick or living with disease. Actually, eating healthy prevents sickness and disease. But for some reason or other, such knowledge is kept under wraps. Whatever would happen to the dairy or grain industries if our doctors practiced preventative care and taught their patients proper nutrition?

Something to think about.

Anyhow, I was unexpectedly presented with the fact that my lifestyle change isn’t just about what I eat. I have to change the way I spend my time! That’s more of a challenge for me, but one I am slowly overcoming. It will take time to make time.

Coffee/Caffeine

I’ve already knocked the habits of adding cocoa (contained dairy) to my coffee and drinking it after 4:00 in the afternoon. For sweetener, I now use turbinado sugar. I have also considerably reduced my consumption of coffee in the afternoon (around 3:00/4:00). It’s between the hours of 3 and 4 right now and I have to fight the urge to go get a coffee. I’m beginning to feel tired and my mind starts slowing down about now.

I should eat!

*runs off for a snack*

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4 thoughts on “Lifestyle Change Ain’t Too Easy

  1. Pingback: HAWMC 2013 – Day 2: Previous Posts that May Help New MSers | Ms. Newb

  2. Good luck on the life style changes. Once you get some new habits developed, the old ones will not even be missed.

    When I eat unhealthy food these days, it takes awful to me and usually gives me an upset stomach to boot. LOL

    There is that initial period of adjustment but that passes soon enough!

    Remember to get some sun, sleep enough and all of the othrr stuff too.

    All the best! Thanks for the nice comment on my web site, IntelligentGuidetoMS.

    Rebecca

    P.S. It’s nice to know that you can have MS and still have a life, isn’t it? Honestly, I think the drug companies exaggerate to scare folks into buying the drugs that make many worse and do not help all that much. Shame on them!

  3. Sorry about your condition. I have a self-centered uncle who used to date a fantastic woman. For years, she has been my favorite relative, someone I can really talk to. A short while after she’s been diagnosed with MS, she vanished. My uncle is now with some cold control-freak woman.

    For sure, they’ll find a cure for MS before one for being a self-centered jerk.

    • I’m sorry about your favorite relative Jay. Although I’m no psychologist, it would seem her response to being diagnosed with a disease that behaves unexpectedly was to firmly grasp onto whatever she could in an attempt to provide her with a sense of control over something… anything, really.

      It’s scary to have a disease with an unknown rate of progression. We can learn about common MS symptoms, but can’t know which ones will hit or when they’ll hit. People will react to this in very different ways.

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