As a mother with multiple sclerosis, I feel like I am constantly reminded of my limitations as well as side effects. I am also aware that you don’t need MS to experience the horror of side effects as I know most out there probably have. I have tried many medications to help manage it and I do try to be mindful of what I put into my body. After receiving a negative MRI report with my doctor’s plea to have me start on something new again, I took a step back and re-evaluated my options.
There was only one option I hadn’t tried and it was a huge step to take. The dreaded words – Changing My Diet. As a lover of all things sweet, fried and non-vegetable, I despised the thought of trying it. After a few weeks of chewing on this thought, I had finally worked up the nerve to try. My health depended upon it.
Understand, I am picky — right up there with the picky 8 year olds. Vegetables? Eww. Corn and potatoes only please. Asian Cuisine? Yea right. Sea food? Disgusting. The very idea of changing my diet was, and still is, something that shook me to my core. I realize that it probably sounds stupid to most people, but I don’t know anyone who anxiously awaits their next meal time so they can gag on every bite they take.
Over the past few years I had learned to accept certain vegetables. Onions, celery, carrots were acceptable in some soups. I could tolerate green peppers on a pizza. And there you about have my limit! My fiance is thankfully a great cook and up for a challenge.
The things I needed to change were:
- Drinking more water with all sugary drinks cut out
- Cut out as much processed foods as possible
- Eat. More. Vegetables.
The first two are fairly easy. I have found a pasta sauce, peanut butter and bread that I can use. I am not cutting out dairy as my body handles it very well, which is good since cheese makes everything better.
I started with green beans. My fiance would cook them in chicken broth, bacon and a little bit of bacon grease. I realize that sounds terribly unhealthy, but the idea is to present them in an acceptable fashion and get used to the taste over time. The first couple of times I put them on my plate I didn’t even touch them. Finally I worked up the nerve to try ONE bean. I wasn’t going to push myself too hard, but I knew I had to make progress. I would eat only one or two beans for about a month. At that point I was able to eat several bites at the same time as mashed potatoes or meat (pork, beef, chicken). Now I can finish all my beans, though I still prefer to have another food I like with it on the fork. It is progress nonetheless. I am making progress with asparagus using the same method and hope to start working on brussel sprouts next.
The best way for me is to mask the foods if possible. I have never liked salads or lettuce. I suspect it is more of a texture thing. Regardless, we have been finely chopping up spinach or kale and adding it to soups, chili, salsa, and spaghetti sauce. Use caution with kale as it will make foods more bitter if you add too much.
I’m sure many of you out there have heard about a ‘withdrawal’ effect from sugars and carbs. One that leaves people feeling tired for a week or two. I found this to be true, but the way I felt afterwards was amazing. It’s still hard some days and I do allow myself a reward every couple weeks or so. If I allow myself some pizza, I’ll make sure I drink water with it. If I allow myself some chocolate cake, I will be good for the dinner.
It has now been about 3 months. I feel better than I have in years. Since I have started this diet change I have had no numbness, a lot better balance, more energy, no double or blurry vision and a lot less muscle weakness. It is still a struggle, but I will keep on trudging ahead and I hope that perhaps someone will be inspired to try it too.