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MS Leaves Me with a Lot of Food… For Thought

MS Leaves Me with 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?

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.

Comments

  • Monk
    6 months ago

    Thank you for sharing your story about your relationship with food. I agree an occasional piece of chocolate cake is fine.
    I and many others that have MS have eaten a healthy diet and exercised all our lives. It makes me skeptical of these claims that an unhealthy lifestyle is the cause, perpetuates or can significantly increase symptoms of MS. If the general public listens to this they could easily conclude that all people with MS have poor diets and are couch potatoes and that we caused our MS by this unhealthy lifestyle. We tend to blame ourselves for what we did or didn’t do. Self blame can lead to serious depression and that’s far more harmful than an occasional piece of chocolate cake. Do be skeptical of these MS diet gurus, there is no scientific evidence for their claims.This is so so harmful to the MS community.
    Enjoy that occasional piece of chocolate cake. A little bit of decadence is good for the soul. Cheers!

  • ElseN
    7 months ago

    Sorry to hear it got you at such an early age. It really IS a monster of a disease. But here’s my food for thought: I happen to agree with former MS sufferer Pam Bartha (Google her!). She has unearthed research studies proving MS is caused by INFECTIONS in the gut, which over time migrate to other parts of the body creating those mysterious lesions. Infections that include fungi, bacteria and WORMS, both big & small!! They LIVE OFF of sugar & processed carbs. So every time you eat that beloved chocolate cake, you are feeding your greatest nemesis — micro-infections, nematodes, fungus, and very possibly inches long worms!! I am not kidding. Neither is Pam, a retired math & science teacher who is SYMPTOM-FREE of MS for nearly 30 years. Check out her youtube videos, her book “Become a Wellness Champion.” You must learn to first starve, then kill off these parasites. They are what is CAUSING your MS symptoms. Neither the MS Society nor anyone else in the medical community has stated these facts, but they have been “known” for at least 30 years! Pam is helping people all over the world recover their health. Check it 0ut. I believe HER!! It makes SENSE!!

  • Dan and Jennifer Digmann moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks for sharing your perspectives, @elsen. Dan and I have seen several reports and articles about the gut bacteria MS connection. Definitely a lot to think about. Wishing you the best!

    – Jennifer, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Shelby Comito moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi @elsen, thank you for sharing! While there are still no clear answers on what causes MS, we’re so glad you’ve found something that works for you and appreciate you sharing about it here. Best, Shelby, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • shellbell829
    7 months ago

    Not only do I have ppms but also type 1diabetes. I take four insulin shots a day. I follow a carb counting diet with 60 carbs per meal

  • Lucylucylucy
    6 months ago

    I have both MS and am a type 1 diabetic as well.I also do 3-4 shots per day and adjust my insulin depending on the amount of carbs I’m going to eat.
    I am thinking of trying the McDougall diet to see if it helps with the MS. I have read some good testimonials regarding this diet.
    The downside is that I will have to figure the carbs out for each meal/serving as I do not see where they’re listed.

  • Dan and Jennifer Digmann moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks for sharing your story and experiences with us, @shellbell829. That takes real strength to handle two chronic illnesses! Stay strong as you move forward!

    – Jennifer, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • ElseN
    7 months ago

    Too many carbs according to Pam Bartha. Check out her mealplan for MS. Total carbs for entire day must be under 50 and be derived nearly entirely from nutrient rich vegetables. No pasta, no dairy, no caffeine, no alcohol, no flour or sugar, no starchy veggies (potatoes, etc.)

  • PS98107
    8 months ago

    Thank you for sharing your story and I’m so glad you are not giving up on yourself.

    Please permit me to add a little more food for thought.

    I was Diagnosed 16 years ago and have never taken MS medications, just changed my way of eating. I too had muscular weakness but with willpower and persistence, our human superpower called neuroplacticity rerouted my neural pathways and the strength returned.

    https://www.youtube.co/watch?v=_wCGLVT2JYc
    https://www.youtube.comwatch?v=4Y1zCBDxBsE

    The “Western” diet of mostly processed foods is a catalyst for getting any disease because the processing introduces un-natural combinations of chemicals like HFCS and Hydrogenated oils (trans-fats) to preserve them. Cows milk (pasteurized or not) is one of the worst things for the human autoimmune system and should definitely NOT be used as baby formula.

    I always hear people say “But I’m different!” Yes, genetically we are different but not so far as what natural chemicals every human being needs to operate and survive, and it is food and how our body converts that food into the chemicals, enzymes and proteins (like myelin) and the exercise that mixes them, that determines how susceptible we are to disease and our overall health. In that regard, we are not different.

    Best of good fortune on your journey! 🙂

  • Dan and Jennifer Digmann moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks for your comment, @ps98107. You definitely have given me even more food (literally) for thought! Glad to read that you’re doing well on your journey, and I too wish you the best of good fortune.

    – Jennifer, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • anns7
    8 months ago

    Another winning column! You are a joy to read, I think I’ll go have a cookie! Thanks for writing, Jennifer, Ann Serafin

  • Dan and Jennifer Digmann moderator author
    8 months ago

    Thanks, Ann! It’s always great to hear from you, and I’m so glad you enjoyed my article. Hope you enjoyed your cookie 😉 We’ll have to split one in Lansing next spring during the MS Action Day at the capitol!

    – Jennifer, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Doobek
    8 months ago

    MS has affected my Rt arm/hand. I’m right handed. So my left arm has become dominant now. I eat with it, scratch when I can reach, write horribly, and so on. I make a mess eating too. I use a spoon for anything that’s more than one item; such as peas and mixed vegetables. That way I can keep it all together when taking a bite. At least most of the time. Lol Eating using a bowl seems better than an open plate. I’ve learned how to stab better with a fork too! Lol I can relate to embarrassment when eating especially when feeling others are watching. I learned there are “adult” bibs like babies have bibs. But it’s easier said than done when trying to work through and process all the never ending changes. My greatest asset in my life is being a child of Jesus! He has made a way for eternal life with Him in Heaven after my temporary life ends here. He is my hope, strength, and reason to live successfully and purposefully in my life.

  • Dan and Jennifer Digmann moderator author
    8 months ago

    Thanks for sharing your story and experiences, Doobek. I can relate to a lot of what you’re saying, and you’ve provided some great tips that can help so many of us. Thank you also for sharing about how important your faith is and how it carries you through the challenges of MS. All the best to you!

    – Jennifer, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Alina Ahsan moderator
    8 months ago

    Hi Doobek, I’m glad Jennifer’s article struck a chord with you, but I’m so sorry you have had to face these difficulties with your arm and hand. Learning how to do everything with your non-dominant hand must have been so challenging! I’m so glad your faith gives you strength to adapt to the endless changes that come with MS. I hope that you continue sharing with us!
    -Alina, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Danelle
    8 months ago

    Hi Jennifer,
    Food I very empowering as I feel we have choice in this. As MS is so unpredictable at least was food we have some control. Sorry about your arms that would be frustrating.
    I remember one episode where I lost my taste, this was very depressing as I love food!
    As I have been symptom free for 7 years now – I know food has helped rebuild my body.
    My large lesions in my brain are gone
    Neurologist said I would be in a wheelchair due to the location.
    I eat whole foods no sugar except in fruit. I keep it simple.

  • Dan and Jennifer Digmann moderator author
    8 months ago

    Thanks for sharing with us your journey in living with MS, Danelle. It’s great to read that you’re doing well and can relate to my love for food 🙂 Indeed, for as much as MS has control in our lives, what we eat is completely under our control. Stay empowered!

    – Jennifer, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Shelby Comito moderator
    8 months ago

    Thank you for chiming in @Danelle! We’re so glad to hear that you found something that works for you, and we’re thrilled you’re feeling well. Thank you for sharing your experience with the community. Warmest wishes, Shelby (MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member)

  • Dorry
    8 months ago

    Jennifer you are facing so many challenges you must be very fed up. Having a piece of chocolate cake is just what you need. Comfort at the right time. Do what I do. I take a small piece and cut it up and eat it slowly. I feel as if I have had a huge portion.
    Everything is about portion control. The small portions we are meant to eat look so ridiculous. It is much the same as a childs portion. I drink 2 glasses of water first thing in the morning. Then I have a green smoothie. I don’t eat till I am hungry and this may be around 11a.m. I eat two small meals till evening. If I have a large roast dinner I split it in two. I eat half for lunch and the other half in the evening. Obesity is so easy to creep up on someone who is in pain and can’t exercise. So the only way to lose weight is through diet. Drinking loads of water throughout the day helps one feel full and eat less. You could try apple cider vinegar. one tablespoon with one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Put some honey in and drink each day. Be kind to yourself and love yourself back from M.S. I am sorry for you suffering. I wish you all the best in life for you and you husband.

  • Dan and Jennifer Digmann moderator author
    8 months ago

    Thank you for your suggestions and kind comments, Dorry. As I told Danelle, food is one of the things we can control, and it sounds like you have incredible control! I appreciate your suggestions for us all to consider. Wishing you the best!

    – Jennifer, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Alina Ahsan moderator
    8 months ago

    Dorry, thank you so much for sharing how you manage your diet! Sharing experiences is so helpful for others in the community to learn from each other. I love your sweet, supportive comment for Dan and Jennifer. Thanks for being part of our community!
    -Alina, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Doobek
    8 months ago

    Dorry, I’m interested in your suggestion of Apple cider vinegar. Thanks!

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