30 msfocusmagazine.org Life With MS MS and Diet Choices By Matt Cavallo From the moment I was diagnosed with MS, my friends and family wanted to talk to me about my diet. Since that time, I have tinkered with a variety of different diet options in an attempt to self-manage my multiple sclerosis progression. Changing my diet habits, however, has not been easy. I grew up in a large Italian family where, every Sunday, my grandmother would make a marvelous family dinner. This included scratch-made pasta, handmade meatballs, sausage, pork chops in a homemade tomato sauce with plenty of bakery-fresh Scala bread on the side to mop up the sauce. This weekly Sunday dinner shaped my eating habits and became a staple of my weekly menu to this day. Now in my forties, I keep the memory of grandmother alive by cooking her famed recipes, much to the delight of my children. Cooking is a bonding moment where you can teach the next generation about the wonders of generations that have passed. I’m sure that many of you who are reading this have similar cherished traditions and memories about the food of your youth. I am also sure that many of you, like me, face difficult diet choices based, in part, on the complications of living with multiple sclerosis. Theevidenceismountingontherelationship between MS and diet choices. While there are diets – including the Wahls Protocol, Swank Diet, and the Paleo Diet – that are discussed as being beneficial for people living with autoimmune disease, there is no agreed- upon MS diet. However, it’s generally accepted that what and how you eat can make a difference in your energy level, bladder and bowel function, and overall health. “No one is completely sure what works and what doesn’t,” said Dr. Heidi Crayton, director of the MS Center of Greater Washington, D.C. “There are guidelines for smart eating, but there is no fail-safe plan. I tell my patients with MS that it’s really important to have a healthy diet. That includes two liters of water and 30 grams of fiber every day, a palate with bright, colorful foods, and foods that have high nutritional value. Decrease fats and refined sugar.” It is important to note that before you start any kind of diet or supplement regimen, you should talk to your doctor. Some special diets can lack essential nutrients or can include a toxic level of vitamins which will end up doing more harm than good. Talking to your doctor or being referred to a registered dietician can help ensure that you follow a diet strategy that works for you.