Okay, multiple sclerosis and diet is getting to be a little involved. It's important though, so let's finish this up.
Note: If you arrived here at part 2 first and want to read part 1, click here. And if you arrived here after 2022, then we've since moved on to a low fat whole food plant-based diet or rather lifestyle, so check that out as well.
Besides fiber, MSers need to get adequate liquids (preferably water), in their diet. If you hate water and can't stomach the thought of drinking 6-8 glasses, try this trick. Mix 100% juice with your water in a ratio of about 1:4 (¼ cup of juice to ¾ cup water).
I don't "love" water, but I do like it. Occasionally though, both Cir and I get a little tired of drinking it all day. So we mix a little juice in to give it a little "taste". At this point, we only use about an 1/8 of a cup of juice in a large glass of water.
Cranberry juice is good if you have bladder problems. Cir self-caths, so he drinks 100% cranberry juice every so often to help keep his bladder healthy. Other juices are fine, but we make sure they are always 100% juice. Check the label.
Besides water and an occasional glass of juice, there are other beverages in our diet. We also love tea and usually have some at breakfast and dessert (although I use that term loosely). Our desserts are more like "English tea and crumpets". We occasionally have real sweets, like cake, for someones birthday.
I cook with extra virgin olive oil, or EVOO, as Rachel Ray would say. I never use margarine or vegetable oil. We stopped doing this many years ago. We do use real butter, ghee, or coconut oil in baking and for adding a little flavor to veggies, hot cereal, and such.
We choose fish, turkey, chicken, and grass-fed meats when we can get them. Portions are controlled. Most times we have meat, fish, or poultry with veggies and a salad. Other times we have a vegetarian meal, like the potato salad I talked about earlier.
Our oldest daughter has encouraged us to eat more healthy. She checks our cupboards when she comes over to make sure we're not cheating. She introduced us to a product called Rapadura by Rapunzel, which is no longer available on Amazon, so here is another product called Monk Fruit, which we've tried and which has a zero glycemic response if you need that.
So, if you can't just go cold turkey. Try Monk Fruit. It is organic cane sugar. I use it in my tea, (Cir doesn't like the taste for his tea). I also cook with it, stevia, or maple syrup, in place of sugar. Monk Fruit is a little more expensive, so I use it sparingly. I find that I use less sugar as a result, which is good. (Eliminating sugar altogether would be best, but we still aren't there yet.)
The main thing with multiple sclerosis and diet is to balance the amount of calories you eat, with the amount you burn. If you aren't moving, and you eat the same way you did when you were moving, you will gain weight.
Being overweight when you have mobility issues, makes it that much harder to move when you want to. Carrying more weight around will cause you to tire out more quickly when fatigue is already a problem.
Cir and I are trying our best to keep his weight down to a manageable level. If weight is already a problem for you, and you want or need to lose the extra pounds, begin now to make small changes in your diet. Any change you are able to start can mean the difference in several pounds over the course of a year.
We can't tell you what will work for you as far as your multiple sclerosis and diet. Based on what you are capable of doing, how much, and what kind of exercise you can do, start there. If you can still cook and prepare meals, begin making better and smarter food choices when possible.
It's easy to make quick decisions for convenience sake. And we can't begin to know how much you can take on. Just remember that if you want to be healthier, even though you live with MS, you can make choices that will lead to better overall health.
If you need help, talk to your doctor or case manager about talking to a nutritionist. Search the internet for healthy recipes or if you can afford it, try one of those healthy eating programs.
All of these are better choices than skipping meals or relying on take-out because you are too tired or can't reach the pots and pans in the kitchen. An occupational therapist (OT) may be able to help you rearrange your kitchen to make it more accessible.
I'd steer clear of surgeries or anything drastic like that unless you are seriously overweight. Begin your own moderate exercise program. That doesn't mean go out and join a gym. We mean do some stretching. Grab some light weights (soup cans are good) and lift them a few times a day. The main thing is to begin.
If you can stand and walk, try learning yoga or tai chi. This book, Yoga and Multiple Sclerosis – A Journey to Health and Healing - by Loren M. Fishman, MD, & Eric L. Small,
is an excellent book for people with disabilities. Even if you can't stand, this book shows techniques for doing yoga in a wheelchair.
Multiple sclerosis and diet for better health is not an impossible combination. A healthy diet and lifestyle is possible even when you live with MS. Of course if you don't have the energy to think about, let alone actually making these changes, this may be difficult, if not impossible, to do alone.
Talk to your family. Let your caregiver know that this is something that you want and need to do. Let them know that you can be successful at this but it would be a whole lot easier with their help. Decide on the changes you want to make. Make a plan, together.
If you have no family, perhaps a best friend, or support group member, can help you work out and implement a multiple sclerosis and diet plan.
We'd love to hear your successes. And by all means, if you have any problems or questions about what you've read, contact us here. We'll do everything we can to help.
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