Although there is no one size fits all diet for those living with MS, eating well may boost energy levels, help fight fatigue and lift your spirits. Changing habits is no easy feat, so below you’ll find lots of information, to inspire, inform and support you. Remember to discuss any changes to your activities or your diet with your doctor or MS nurse.
- Why is diet important?
Ever heard of the saying, ‘you are what you eat’? For many people living with MS, healthier food choices has resulted in them feeling healthier themselves but some say that they don’t feel it makes a difference. So it’s important to be aware that the effects of a healthy diet can be different for everyone but one thing is for sure: eating foods high in nutrients can help the body carry out its functions properly.
It can also have a lot of other benefits too, especially for those living with chronic conditions like MS. A healthy diet can help with things like:
- Controlling weight
- Decreasing fatigue
- Maintaining regular bowel and bladder function
- Minimising the risk of skin problems
- Keeping bones healthy and strong
- Maintaining healthy teeth and gums
- Strengthening the heart
- Improving muscle strength and range of motion
- Increasing flexibility
- Reducing the risk of certain diseases such as heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and certain cancers
Remember if you’re thinking about making significant changes to your diet, it’s best to talk them through with your doctor or MS nurse first.
- What makes a balanced diet?
It’s very easy to say that a balanced diet can help to manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, but what does this mean? What even makes a diet balanced?
The aim is to combine a variety of different foods across the main food groups. Let’s take a look at why each one is important:
- Protein encourages growth and tissue repair
- Carbohydrates and sugars are needed to provide you with energy
- Fats are needed to absorb certain vitamins and essential fatty acids
- Fibre is for healthy digestion
- Vitamins and minerals are needed for many different things including numerous processes in the body, for example tissue repair, bone strength and the absorption of nutrients
- Fluids are essential for optimum working of the body. Water is used in the various chemical processes happening in our cells and is needed in the blood which carries nutrients around the body
- From the MS community
Nobody knows more about multiple sclerosis than all those who live with it day-to-day. Below, we’ve collated some of the ways the MS community have strived for a healthier relationship with food and what has worked best for them. Here are just a few of the top tips we’ve learned so far.
Paula, a visual merchandiser from London, has lived with multiple sclerosis for the past four years. Determined to live the best life she can regardless of her condition, she realised just how important diet was to managing her symptoms. And that means treating yourself once in while too!
Fresh, tasty, simple and affordable food is possible even if you have MS…
Nick Davies, who was diagnosed with primary progressive MS (PPMS) in 2009, agrees that the idea of cooking with multiple sclerosis can be daunting. But despite struggling to stand and cook at the same time, Nick is proof that healthy, delicious meals aren’t out of reach if you live with MS. In fact, he’s even made a very successful website out of his creations. Some of which you can find in our recipe section. To find out more about the ways Nick has learned to adapt to life in the kitchen with multiple sclerosis, read his blog here.
Listen to your body
Writing about living healthily with MS, Paula talks about the importance of listening to what your body wants. But unfortunately this is something that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a skill that takes time, trial and error and a positive attitude. You can read more about her experiences and what it takes to truly understand what the body needs, here.
To whet your appetite, here are a couple of recipes you might want to give a go:
Penne with a spicy tomato sauce
- 12 medium anchovy fillets (chopped)
- 3 medium tomatoes (chopped)
- 118.29 ml Kalamata black olives
- 2 tbsp capers
- 1 clove garlic (chopped)
- 2 tbsp parsley (fresh flat leaf and chopped)
- 2 tbsp basil (fresh and chopped)
- 1 small red chilli (dried)
- 1 pinch salt
- 59.15 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 500 g penne
Preparation time: 65 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
- In a large bowl mix together the anchovies, tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic, parsley, basil, chili, salt and olive oil.
- Stir well.
- Transfer to a frying pan and simmer for one hour, remembering to stir often.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook the pasta till al dente.
- Drain the pasta, add to the sauce and toss well.
Pan seared salmon with minted couscous and broccoli
- 4 medium salmon steaks
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 pinch five spice
- 1 packet couscous
- 1 tbsp Fresh mint (finely chopped)
- 1 tsp lemon rind (grated)
- 2 heads broccoli (cut into florets)
Preparation time: 2-3hours
Cook time: 30 minutes
- Marinate the salmon in the sesame oil, soy sauce and Chinese five spice for several hours if possible.
- Prepare the couscous according to the directions on the box, omitting the oil, i.e. using only the water to expand the couscous.
- When the couscous is ready, stir through the mint and lemon rind and cover.
- Steam the broccoli (or microwave) allowing it to remain firm.
- Leave covered.
- Remove the salmon from the marinade.
- Heat a non-stick pan and sear the salmon for 1-2 minutes on each side.
- Serve immediately with the couscous and broccoli
If you want to find more why not check out Nick Davies’ food blog, My Easy Suppers.
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