It probably comes as no surprise that eating healthy is part of my lifestyle. Even before being diagnosed with MS, I never ate fattening or unhealthy food regularly but I did give myself liberties that I no longer do today. My diet now mainly consists of proteins, vegetables and some fruits and I try to avoid carbs (especially those with high sugar content) and gluten as often as possible…
As with any illness (or in every day life for that matter), any doctor will tell you that eating right will contribute to your overall health and well-being. But what I learned early after diagnosis is that people with autoimmune diseases tend to have “leaky guts”, meaning things like wheat and dairy are capable of seeping through to your central nervous system and causing sensory problems. Therefore, they need to be minimized and/or avoided. It’s also highly recommended that you add other anti-inflammatory items to your diet, like ginger, green tea, and “power” foods like seaweed and even organ meat. Luckily, we live in a world today where restaurants are accommodating if you need to alter a dish and healthy “fast food” is easy to come by. I also typically cook dinner 3-4 times a week so it’s easy for me to control my diet at home.
Another huge contributing factor to my diet are the steroids I’ve been on for the past 18 months on and off. Everyone knows the typical outcome of those – you get fat, right? Well, they do make you hungry like a beast and bloat you like crazy (just some of the wonderful side effects..!). I’m not going to lie, weight control is a priority for me but it’s just as much about how I feel as how I look. And let’s be honest, I don’t feel good when I’m not eating right. But, the real reason I began monitoring my food so closely – particularly the week before, during and after the treatment – was because I learned a scary lesson when I had my first dose of steroids.
After my diagnosis, I had to go into the hospital to have 5 days of IV steroids to regain my vision. They administer them in the hospital because the dosage amount is so high that they need to monitor you and your vitals. Well, during that time my diet was the last thing on my mind and to help cheer me up, my family and friends brought over my favorite foods – spaghetti from Coco Pazzo, carrot cake from Sweet Mandy Bs, etc. But shortly after, I felt awful. Like really, really awful. I remember sinking into the hospital bed and literally not be able to turn over. My blood sugar levels were so high that I couldn’t move and regular insulin shots were needed to get them back to normal. I later learned that this type of incident could have been avoided if I removed sugar from my diet – particularly during the time I had the steroids since that only made it worse. Since carbs are a sugar, I immediately nixed them and began avoiding sweets.
Since steroids have been a part of my regular routine and this autoimmune disease was here to stay, the easiest solution has been to avoid carbs (especially those with gluten and high sugar) and minimize dairy (I’ve found completely avoiding it is near impossible). So what do I usually eat? My dinners most of the time consist of a protein, typically fish or chicken, and green vegetables (others have higher sugar). Lunches are always a salad, and breakfast is a fruit and kale smoothie or egg whites and chopped veggies. I do venture outside the box for dinners out and even get more creative with these limitations when hosting company but most of the time, this is my routine. Sautéing a piece of fish and broccoli takes me 15 at most and typically that’s all I have, especially now with a baby. Believe it or not, my husband is just as diligent with this diet, so it’s easy that we eat the same way.
Is it easy to stick to this diet? Not always. Of course it takes discipline and sometimes I slip up (I’m human!) but I do the best I can to make my health a priority.
Do you have any favorite healthy and easy recipes you love? Tell me about them in the “Comments” section. I plan to share some of my favorites too so stay tuned!