New Year, Healthy Eating

Each New Year sees me making a list of resolutions that I end up forgetting about after a week. Usually things like “I’ll make my bed as soon as I get up”, “I’ll get to the bottom of the laundry basket”, and (the old favourite) “I’ll stop eating crisps and biscuits and stick to healthy, nutritious meals”. It’s usually a half-hearted attempt, I am a lazy lump when it comes to housework and love nothing more than sitting on the couch with a packet (or two) of crisps.

Niamh McCarron
08 Jan 2015

Over the last few months however, I’ve become more interested in eating healthier. If you Google “MS and diet” a lot of results pop up linking what we eat to symptom management and progression. It can be overwhelming to see all the different websites, and knowing where to start, but I spent some time going through it.

To be honest, the large amount of information was off-putting to me. So much so that I nearly avoided it altogether. It seemed that not only would I have to cut down on the junk I was eating, I’d have to learn a lot about fats and oils and supplements. It was easier for me to carry on eating as I was than try to get to grips with such an overhaul of my diet. I know a lot of people with MS have seen results from following a more restricted diet, and I can’t discredit their experiences, but it just wasn’t for me.

I took some time away from it and had a little think about what I wanted to achieve. I had to look at my overall health and wellbeing, not just my MS. Am I not always saying, “I am more than MS”? By that same reckoning, shouldn’t my diet also be about more than MS?

I figured that I needed to eat better to live better. Lose a bit of weight, look after my entire body. Just because I have MS doesn’t exclude me from developing other illnesses. After a bit of pondering, I decided I’d improve my diet for me and not for my MS and, if my symptoms became more manageable as a result, it would be a bonus.

So from November I followed a simple eating plan. I made an effort to cut back on processed foods and started making more from scratch. Nothing fancy now - I can rustle up a stir-fry or bolognaise or soup, but you won’t be getting a three-course homemade meal if you call for your dinner. I won’t pretend that I stuck to the diet every day, but I was determined to do my best.

I also did a detox for a week and cleared my system. I got into a routine of sticking to three meals a day, and not picking in between. In the run up to Christmas I felt good, had lost a bit of weight and liked what I was eating. I relaxed over my time off work and overindulged a bit (a LOT). I thoroughly enjoyed myself but by the new year I was ready to get back to my diet.

Eating well makes me feel well and when I feel well I am able to get through the harder MS days. I have many plans for 2015, some for myself and some with friends and family. I intend to be as healthy and fit as I can be so I can experience everything I have planned to do. If that means fewer crisps on the sofa and more strolls with the dog, I think I can live with that. I don’t think I’ll ever get all the laundry done, though!

I can’t claim to have this diet thing cracked, I am sure I am doing certain things “wrong”, but I know I am looking after myself better than I was before. Thanks for reading, I look forward to your comments.

Niamh