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It’s the Little Changes that Matter

By Cherie C. Binns
Diet is very different for each of us, just as our multiple sclerosis is different. I will tell you what I have done and the effect I feel those changes have had but you need to take the time for yourself to find out what is right for you. I would start with simple modifications and not radically overhaul your diet as you are more likely to make it a lifestyle change and stick with it if you work that way. My advice is to avoid fads like the Wahl's Diet and Paleo Diet and do this in a way that does not negatively affect family meal time or the budget.
 
I have a couple of siblings and a daughter who are lactose intolerant so I started there and eliminated dairy food. It takes a couple of weeks once you eliminate something altogether to see if there is any change (negative or positive) so do this one food group or item at a time. You are far less likely to crave and binge on a "forbidden food". Because steroids over the years had created osteoporosis and I was breaking bones left and right in my early 50s, my primary care physician suggested that I add non-fat plain yogurt to my morning fruit because of the high calcium content. That did not seem to bother at all and I still do that daily. I can eat hard cheeses because most do not contain lactose while soft cheeses do. Those changes actually improved fatigue and hip pain for me.
 
Then I began to read labels and stopped buying prepared entrees and vegetables that contain preservatives, salt, sugars, dyes, and other additives. Again, fatigue seemed to be the first of the MS symptoms to be helped by that. Glutens came next. I stopped with the breads and pastas and what I had known, since my teens, to be an "irritable gut" calmed right down. Pain all but disappeared and my sleep improved and energy increased. Those changes have been in the works now for about eight years. When I am traveling, I cannot always eat as I would at home and I notice that (especially with breads, pastas, added salt, etc.) I do not feel as well and my energy is sapped and there is more joint pain and patches of neuropathy that have been quiet will reactivate.
 
I have this style of eating down and it is second nature to prepare a meal in less than a half hour from scratch. My husband admits to more energy and better sleep since he adapted to what I was eating as well.
 
As far as supplements, all of them were recommended by my doctor. I take calcium with D because I am an older postmenopausal woman with thinning bones. I take additional vitamin D and the levels are checked every three months and dose adjusted as necessary. I take fish oil because my triglycerides were high and my Dr. wanted to see if that helped before putting me on a statin that had a pile of side effects. And when I was on an interferon and my liver enzymes were elevated, I was on milk thistle to bring those levels back in line and allow me to stay on my meds.
 
My exercise routine consists of about 30 minutes a day in a cool water jacuzzi (no jets) stretching and strengthening using resistance tubing. My endurance is far better now than it was before I started this and I can now walk a half mile or mile on a cool evening with my husband where I could not do a half block before starting this.
 
You don't need to deny yourself. Make small changes until they become habit and second thought, then add more small changes. What I do is no longer diet or exercise, it is just being more aware of what goes into my mouth and what I do with my body and I believe I am healthier, more productive, less affected by my MS as a result.