I know a person with MS; let’s call him Tom. Tom has had some issues with alcohol over the years and was recently released from a 90-day sentence in a prison alcohol treatment program. When he had been back for a few days, we got to talking about his MS and how bad it was; there was numbness and tingling in his hands and arms and he said that his feet felt like anvils when he came up the stairs. His depression was pretty deep.
I had read bits and pieces about diet and MS and offered to print out some of what I came across for him. I also suggested Vitamin D supplements since I’d just read a lot about the prevalence of Vitamin D deficiencies and the host of problems, including MS symptom exacerbation and depression, that was caused by not having enough of it. I was pretty sure, based on his pasty complexion, that he hadn’t been getting a lot of sun in prison.
I came home, printed out information from The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, John MacDougall, MD., and information about the Swank Diet. There was also a NYTimes article which referenced two women, Ann Sawyer and Judith Bachrach, who had written a book titled, “The MS Recovery Diet.” (There are also naysayers who discount diet’s role in symptom relief, but there are people who argue about the benefits of healthy eating everywhere.)
While I was not at all recommending replacing medical treatment, I was certainly encouraging Tom to try to resolve some of his symptoms through diet. I was surprised and delighted that he not only read the information, but immediately began to put the strategies in place.
Last week, we were sharing a vegan lunch, and I told him that the dollop of aioli wasn’t vegan. He wouldn’t touch it. He said, “No way am I eating that. I’m feeling good and I don’t want to do anything to mess this up!” This was less than two months after he began changing his diet. He said he was able to run up the stairs, and there wasn’t any numbness in his hands. I could observe that he wasn’t as depressed and his color was much improved.
I’ve personally given up dairy, gluten and meat, along with rarely eating tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes, something I thought would never happen, but I don’t have any symptoms of asthma, arthritis or hypertension anymore. I can walk two miles a night without feeling an ache or pain. I can swim laps for a half hour, then go walk a mile on the track and ride a cycle for a half hour without any breathing problems. I have more energy than I had when I was 25 and I’m 61 … That’s what I’m talking about!
Tom had to give up dairy, gluten, eggs and meat for this to work for him. As Ms. Sawyer said, “The approach is simple, doesn’t cost anything and nobody is making money from it. We’re not saying the diet is a cure; it’s a way to control the symptoms of MS. Walking around watching what you eat is a lot better than sitting in a wheelchair.” Isn’t that the truth!
Diet! What a fantastic tool we have available to us and yet so few people choose to use it. Whether you have allergies, asthma, arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, fibromyalgia or MS … Why not give it a shot? It sounds difficult and frightening at first, but when you start feeling so much better, and you get better at preparation, making good choices, and finding products that you like, it really becomes second nature.
I decided to become a certified health coach because of the success I’ve had with changing my diet. A lot of people don’t need to make the drastic changes that I made or that Tom made; they just need to discover what works for them. Often, people just want to have more energy, lose weight, or sleep better.
One way to make the process of changing your diet easier is to work with a health coach who can help you experiment with what works for you and can even help you learn how to prepare some foods that might be new to you. A certified health coach has the knowledge to guide you through the process. In September, I’ll be certified to offer a six-month health coaching program. Since I’ll be new to the coaching process, I will be offering the program at a substantial discount. So, if you’re interested in making a change, let me know and we can make arrangements to get together in September!