It is not a diet. It is a dietary lifestyle.
Several years ago, my husband, Jake, and I set out to improve our eating habits. We reached back to our childhood lessons in the basic food groups and did some additional research. We decided to eliminate as much refined sugar and white flour as possible, as well as to avoid highly processed foods containing little or no nutrition. Simply put, we avoid “white” foods and processed foods that come in boxes and bags.
We learned that “junk food” was so named for a reason. High in sugars and carbohydrates, they provide a temporary spike in energy, followed by a “crash” and feelings of hunger and fatigue. It is an extremely unhealthy way to fuel your body. We decided to fuel up on premium.
It sounded almost impossible those first few months and, indeed, it was a difficult change. We craved our beloved snack foods, but we found our strength in the supermarket by avoiding those tempting middle aisles. We got in the habit of reading ingredient labels and learning where the hidden sugar and salt lurked. We chose only whole grain breads, whole grain pasta, extra virgin olive oil, and filled our cart in the fresh produce section. We ignored foods claiming to be low calorie, or “diet” foods and stuck with the basics.
Our meals began to revolve around fish, chicken, and pork, along with plenty of fresh vegetables and salads. Popcorn -- popped in a pan -- became our snack food of choice and our one true indulgence. Pizza, potato chips and desserts were relegated to special occasions and, even then, in smaller portions.
It was a difficult transition, as cravings continued to nag away at us. As the months passed, we began to give it less and less thought. We had our supermarket routine down pat and our meals were more than satisfying. We both dropped a few pounds, though we were no longer plagued by food cravings.
We've been faithful to this dietary lifestyle for a few years now, and the health benefits are evident. Our weight fluctuates comfortably within a five-pound range. When tempted with treats, keeping portions small satisfies without regret.
On those rare occasions when I fall off the wagon, so to speak, my body can no longer easily process empty calories. A high carb, high sugar snack literally makes me ill. It causes my heart to race and my stomach to protest, quickly followed by fatigue. I have come to associate junk foods with feeling ill, and that is a very good thing.
There have been many claims regarding multiple sclerosis and diet, including some which have promised a cure. As far as I know, there is no evidence to support a cure, but one thing is certain -- a healthy diet is to your benefit, multiple sclerosis or not. Ms provides us with enough battles to fight, and this is one area where we can truly take control and positively affect our own health. Let's face it -- we need every advantage we can get.
It only takes a willingness to change. Once you've made the decision, learn to navigate the supermarket correctly. Then give yourself plenty of time to adjust. Eventually, it will become second nature. In the long run, you will be doing yourself -- and your overall health -- a world of good.
Published On: April 14, 2008