Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Evil Doings of Mr Cheddar...and how I plotted his downfall

Actually, there are many many culprits, not just Cheddar, that I have plotted to 'do-in'.
Gone is cheese and dairy. Gone is scrummy cake and lovely pastry. Gone is alcohol on a regular basis. Gone is... and this is said with a heavy heart...chocolate. *weep*

Yep...say 'hello' to the Swank Diet folks!

If you've read my 'About my MS' page you'll know that over the years I've tried various drugs, none of which really helped (from what my consultant could see), so after a bit of research, I decided to kick my MS into touch and give the Swank Diet a go. 

The basic premise is to keep to a low-saturated fat diet, thus avoiding processed food and most dairy, and limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Instead you are encouraged to stick to a diet of lean meat and fish, lots of fruit and vegetables and wholegrains. It's basically the diet EVERYONE should be on to promote good health, and when I was on it before I saw nothing but benefits. I definitely felt less tingly, less fatigued and a lot less stiff in my joints.

Then why quit in the first place, I hear you ask?! Well...I fell off the wagon spectacularly when I was pregnant because of my cravings for all things dairy, and as I knew I needed to get lots of calcium, I let it slip. Foolish, but understandable.

However, it hasn't escaped my notice that I've suffered my first relapse in 4 years after I've been eating dairy, chocolate, and any old rubbish I fancied over the last year, and now there aren't any pregnancy hormones keeping me afloat. So, it's back to it with a bang!

As MS diets go, it's probably the most straight forward one to adapt to, as there isn't too much you need to give up. You just have to make adjustments to the type of things you eat and you obviously still need to have some saturated fat a day (not exceeding 15g) but the diet encourages you to get this from healthy sources (such as avocado and coconut).
When I first started the diet, I was rigid in the amount of fat I ate and counted everything up to the nearest gram...but I became a bit obsessed and it slowly drove me mad! I used to completely berate myself if I had a 'naughty food' moment, which I think in itself is not healthy. I personally cannot cope without having a little lapse once in a while. In fact, it helped, because it usually made me feel a bit sick and reminded me why I was doing it in the first place! So I found that by just keeping to the premise of avoiding things that you know are bad for you and cutting out dairy, I could see an improvement to my symptoms.

For a more detailed breakdown, you can visit the Swank MS Foundation website or buy the book.

Alternatively, the Best Bet Diet is very popular, as is The MS Diet for Women. They are perhaps more radical, as you need to cut out grains, legumes (such as beans, chickpeas and peas) and gluten, on top of what you cut out on the Swank Diet, but a lot of people swear by them. Personally, as a pescatarian (I eat fish, but no meat) who doesn't really like nuts, I would really struggle without my legumes, so for me I felt it would have been too hard. However, perhaps it's a change that could come with time?