Interestingly, even though doctors will not specifically say what diet to follow when you are living with Multiple Sclerosis, one thing that I have heard quite frequently is that there is some evidence that cruciferous vegetables are beneficial. So, the same doctor that was pointing me to the donut store was also telling me to eat more Brussels sprouts…talk about mixed messages!
Cruciferous vegetables include things in the cabbage family like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale. I don’t know about you, but I get really tired of eating just steamed broccoli or cauliflower and to be honest I am not such a fan of kale salads (if you are by all means go for it!). To ensure I eat these types of vegetables, I will use them as a base for a sauce, which yields a very creamy, nutritious, and delicious alternative. If this sounds interesting, I have added three of my favorites to my recipe site: Cauliflower Alfredo, Broccoli Pesto, and Kale Chips.
The First Steps
There are various MS friendly diets out there. I follow the OvercomingMS lifestyle (I will write about that more in another post), but honestly I don’t really care what you follow, as long it works for you and you can stay with it. However, whatever you follow, it is important to make sure you:
There are many studies out there that show that a high saturated fat diet can worsen MS (I will also explore this evidence further in another post). That is why any MS friendly diet must be low in saturated fat (below 15 g), as was clearly shown by Dr. Roy Swank.
It is also very important to do your best to avoid processed food. The issue with processed food is that they typically contain refined oils that are treated in a way that makes them lose any beneficial properties they may have had. What this means is that you have to get into the habit of reading food labels and ingredient lists. I have three rules for label reading:
Reading ingredient lists of food can sometimes be really daunting and frustrating, especially when you start to notice the use of oils and sugar in pretty much EVERYTHING! But keep strong, you will find that not everything in the store has to be avoided. Once you know what brands conform to these rules, it makes shopping a little easier. However, knowing what the ingredients are in any food you buy is essential.
I also try my best to avoid refined sugar as it is a huge contributor to chronic health problems as any vitamins are stripped from it during the refining process and your body actually uses up essential nutrients to break it down. I was shocked to find out that there was a huge cover up about the health risks associated by too much sugar back in the 60’s. Therefore, sugar has infiltrated pretty much every food item in the grocery store. It took me ages (and a few tears) to find a vegetable broth without any added-sugar or bread without any oils.
To this point you might have already noticed that in order to adhere to an MS friendly diet, it will be necessary to prepare the majority of your food from scratch. Therefore, you will need to make sure you have the tools and staples available in your kitchen to make sure you always have access to what you need when you need it. I always have raw cashews and sliced, blanched almonds on hand. Plenty of nutritional yeast, lemons/apple cider vinegar, fresh fruits and veggies, and my blender and food processor are in use every day. As I follow OvercomingMS, I also have a bottle of flax oil in my fridge to pour over meals for an omega-3 boost.
To make sure you have all the resources necessary to tackle this task of preparing MS friendly meals, I will continuously be providing snack and meal ideas on my Recipes page. Stay tuned for a whole slew of tasty treats!
Amanda Windhof, PhD is an MS lifestyle advocate who wants to ensure a healthy diet is accessible to everyone.