A Lot of Food… For Thought

I always have been overweight. Chubby. Pleasantly plump. Thick. Heavy. “But Jennifer, you have such a pretty face.”

Yep, that is me. And I am not alone.

According to a quick search, Wikipedia reports that, “Obesity has continued to grow within the United States. Two of every three American men are considered to be overweight or obese, but the rates for women are far higher. The United States contains one of the highest percentage of obese people in the world.”

Food was always there for me

When I was younger, I used food to comfort me. Happy or sad, it always was there for me. I celebrated with it. “Congratulations! Way to go! Want some cake?” Or I was social with food. After all, who doesn’t like a pizza party or backyard barbecue?

Plus, food always could soothe my sadness. Nothing like chocolate to mend a broken heart.

At 23, Multiple Sclerosis entered my life. I was young, scared and sad. And for the first time, food couldn’t fix my problem. MS had power far greater than that which was found at the bottom of a bowl of ice cream. I would be living with this monster forever.

Learning new coping strategies

It was time to learn some new coping techniques. Yes, learn. That itself would be my first strategy. Knowledge being power, I was on a mission to learn everything I could about the disease. I still am, and I encourage anyone newly diagnosed to do the same, from credible sources, of course. And keep learning.

Another coping strategy I’ve used is to get involved with others who help you live with, adjust to and accept this disease. Stay connected. Don’t let MS isolate you.

I’m thankful I got involved with the National MS Society. With this connection, I have gained oodles of up-to-date, accurate information, empowered myself through advocacy and made some amazing lifelong friendships. In fact, it is through an MS Society program that I met my incredible husband, Dan, nearly 16 years ago.

Life is, and has been, good since meeting him on that fateful day back in 2002. Yes, we have faced our fair share of problems over the years ­– he also has MS – but together we are a pretty strong team.

My new challenge with food

However now, 21 years after my diagnosis, I legitimately cannot cope with food. Did I tell you that I want to feed myself? I mean, I can for the most part. But my MS-weakened arms make it a challenge to lift the utensil to my mouth. I often need Dan’s help to finish my meal.

My disease has impacted my arms. I’m weak. And frustrated. And angry. Embarrassed too. I often feel like a child when other people feed me. Because of that, I can be quite bratty.

But I’m not going to give up on myself or give into this disease. I’m actively doing physical and occupational therapy as well as exercising on my own to regain my strength and feed myself once again.

A piece of chocolate cake

I’ve been living with this disease for what amounts to more than 7,600 days. I’m tired. Worn out. Heck, even the world’s best athletes get a day off every now and then. As Dan has told me a few times, baseball Hall of Fame legend Cal Ripken got to retire after 21 seasons.

I’m likely just at the middle of my MS career. I've got a long way to go in this fight.

Still, I occasionally want to comfort myself with a piece of chocolate cake. That I feed to myself.

I mean, is this really too much to ask for?

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

For trips, which means of travel do you prefer and why?