31 msfocusmagazine.org While there is no specific diet approved for MS, there is consensus on foods to avoid or limit: • Sodium – a 2014 Neurology study revealed that high levels of sodium could lead to a flare in symptoms and increased MRI activity. While the results of the study have been highly debated, limiting your sodium and salt intake is a healthy decision. • Sugar – people living with MS report fatigue asoneofthetopsymptoms.Sugarcontributes to increased fatigue and can also lead to weight gain, making mobility more difficult. Did you know that one can of cola exceeds the recommended level of sugar intake for one day? If you are drinking a can of cola to combat MS fatigue, it is actually having the opposite effect and increasing fatigue because of the high sugar content. • Saturated fats – saturated fats are foods like fatty beef, pork, poultrywith skin, butter, and cheese.TheAmerican HeartAssociation recommends aiming for a dietary pattern that achieves no more than 5 to 6 percent of calories from saturated fat. For example, if you need about 2,000 calories a day, no more than 120 of them should come from saturated fat. These foods increase your LDL, or ‘bad cholesterol’, and can lead to heart disease – especially in people living with MS that have a more sedentary lifestyle because of physical disabilities. • Other foods to limit or avoid include caffeine, alcohol, refined grains, MSG, and artificial sweeteners. These foods are known to contribute to a wide range of symptoms including bladder issues, fatigue, weight gain, and increased cholesterol. With a new year on the horizon,what would you like to change or work on about yourself? Jeannie Simmons: What I would like to change this new year, is enjoy every single day and reduce my stress level at least from a 20+ to a minus 2. Audrey Johnson Rogers: The primary way I deal with stress is through creative expression. I've stocked up on books from my local library, and saved several YouTube channels for inspiration in the art forms I enjoy most and want to improve on. I plan to work daily, or at least weekly, creative time into my schedule. It helps me to shift my focus away from my symptoms for a bit, and my spirit feels genuinely refreshed! Tammy Balbinot: I would like to try to be a better person and try to figure out how to get my depression under control. Tamara Johnson: Accepting MS and adapting to it! Finding out what I am good for, while dealing with this MonSter. Diana Journey: Continuing physical therapy and hippotherapy to improve my walking, balance, and posture. Kim Chatman: Accepting my new normal and being less angry inside. Learn more about diet with MS Focus’ new booklet Food to Fight MS. See page 9 in this issue to learn more.