I am sure that most MS sufferers have been told by their doctor that they should adopt the Mediterranean Diet to help ease their symptoms, external ones or internal. It was pretty much the first thing my doctor said to me. At first, I was like: ‘Oh ok, that is doable. I like fish as much as the next guy.’
It didn’t take long to realise, it was a bit more complicated than that.
After much research into the Mediterranean Diet and what it entailed, and investigating which foods either increase or decrease inflammation, I decided that if I am going to give myself the best chance of staying well, I may as well jump in with both feet. Therefore, currently as I type, I am 17 weeks:
- Gluten free
- Dairy free
- Sugar free
- Salt free
- Additives free
- Red meat free (well, very occasionally I treat myself to ribs. Mmm ribs.)
And I feel amazing!
Like I cannot put into words how good I feel. I don’t know what effect this diet change is having on my insides, or on the nerve inflammation but on the outside, I have lost a stone in weight! In October, I was a size 14 still pretending to be a 12 (please tell me other people do this?!) but now I am a healthier size 12, and starting to creep back into my size 10 clothes. Not only that, I have more energy, I sleep better, my skin is so clear, which is something I have had trouble with since my teens.
So I try and base my diet on the Mediterranean Diet triangle:
On the whole, meals are based on fruit, veg, legumes and grains. Have fish at least twice a week, trying to stick to the oily ones like salmon and tuna. Poultry and dairy products less than twice a week, and then red meat very very occasionally.
My research online (literally just googling) lead me to believe I would benefit from being gluten and dairy free on top of this, as well as sugar free.
My doctor said to take in as little salt as possible. And so my very special diet was born!
To begin with, all I could see was the things I wasn’t allowed to eat. And all the things I loved seemed to be in that list. Ice cream, ribs, chocolate, bread, cheese. It was so overwhelming. I made myself decide on a starting point and that was to have a look in my local library for some cookbooks that could help. Or at least give me a clue where to start! There was a wealth of ideas sitting on the shelves before me. Gluten free cook books, healthy living cookbooks, Mediterranean cook books. So I just picked one and had a flick through. Then another one. Then a third. I ended up leaving the library with about 6 books! I photocopied a lot of recipes from these books so I could hold on to them when the books needed to be returned, and so I could make notes around the edge (how big each portion was, what I would do next time, etc).
I’m not going to lie. It has been quite time consuming collecting together some recipes that fit with all of my requirements, especially at the beginning. But I am starting to build up a little collection of things I really like to cook. Apart from loosing a load of weight, I have also found this love of cooking I didn’t know was within me. I had not really cooked anything before my diet change but I haven’t stopped since making the change. What I really like is everything I have cooked is not complicated. A lot of the recipes I have found basically throw everything into the same saucepan, just at different intervals. So everyone can have a go!
I am going to be posting some of my favourite recipes on this blog in a hope of sharing some ideas and giving readers out there some hope that a diet to help heal the body can be tasty too!
Now the boring bit. The disclaimer:
Please note: I am not saying ‘You have to be gluten free, dairy free, sugar free etc, to reduce your MS symptoms’. It is a wide spread idea at the moment on the Internet that suggests diet is related to medical conditions so I am just giving it a go. I will be sharing my findings on it but I am not dictating that this is the only way forward. Please don’t take what I am saying as law or instead of medical advice from a professional. I am just sharing my story.
And trying to make healthy living more achievable than it sounds.