Dieting Alone

Its been about 3 weeks now and I have been applying the OMS diet. The OMS diet (Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis) is based on the Swank diet to treat autoimmune diseases. The diet stresses zero saturated fat following a vegan plus fish eating regimen. The author suggests cleaning out the cupboards and throwing out everything not part of the diet so as not to be tempted. The more I learn about the MS community the more I see that the majority are moms. MS is most common in women with an onset between 20 and 40, prime time for motherhood. While I do value the health tips and suggestions, I don’t really think this strict way of life is really realistic for people cooking for a family.

I don’t feel it is fair or necessary to put my whole family on a diet. At first I became worried because MS is common within families so I feel slightly guilty for not putting this diet on my children but I just cant live with these kind of restrictions. My son is already a difficult eater, surviving solely on hot-dogs, peanut butter, plain rice, or pasta with red sauce. Lately I have tried to minimize the amount of dinners I make, most nights sticking to one entree with a take it or leave it attitude. This usually results in my son skipping dinner a couple nights a week. Other days I make sides that I know he will eat. I believe that healthy food helps but so does enjoying your life. I have never really dieted in the past so I’m not used to these restrictions myself. I have come up with some ways to make dinner a little bit easier and less overwhelming when cooking separate dinners for everyone.

The OMS diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, and fish while restricting dairy, meat, and some oils. I have found the best frozen fish at Wegmans and have been cooking my meat and sides separately. It takes some planning but like everything, you fall into your own rhythm. Many nights I will use the same marinade or similar ingredients on the fish and meat to save time and brain power. More baking, less frying, and the cheese is added afterwards. I used to cook more savory foods and have been keeping them plain to minimize the fat intake. Many times I will add water to my saute pan and steam the vegetables using less oil. One thing I find I have been struggling with is cooking all these separate courses, instead of the more convenient and mom-friendly one pan meals.

I’m not sure how long I will last on this diet but I haven’t found it that hard to make these little changes. The lack of dairy, meat, and junk food has not really bothered me as much as I thought it would. I will be honest I do have cheat days. I have fallen into a bit of a pattern cheating on Sundays. That’s not to say I binge but if we go out, usually I will just order the fish and not worry if there is butter on it. Recently after my second Ocrevus infusion I was feeling down and decided to treat myself with a bacon cheeseburger with onion rings. Go big or go home right! I didn’t feel very good afterwards but it was an exhausting weekend so I can’t truly say whether the food affected me that quickly. I do find that I feel much lighter and less sluggish on this diet. One trick is to keep healthy snacks on hand. Unfortunately this means I am going to the food store more than once a week, which is time consuming. One thing I love to snack on is blueberries, like a whole carton of blueberries.

While the diet strives for perfection with zero cheats, I don’t think its very practical. For someone who pretty much ate chicken or ground beef everyday, no meat with the exception of one or two Sundays a month is a huge difference. Another thing I noticed is some MS’ers following a paleo diet, which is pro-meat, so I feel skeptical sometimes maybe I am torturing myself for no reason. Regardless I have significantly reduced my fat and processed food intake. I also feel conflicted about the strictness of this diet because I am now on medication. While some claim to be fighting the disease with food, I have gone through a full dose of Ocrevus, joined a gym, and have been continuing my acupuncture. Acupuncture has helped relieve my symptoms since day one, before a diagnosis was confirmed. I think balance is what’s important. Creating better habits with food is valuable but probably only effective with the addition of exercise, relaxation, and medication. I think the most important thing in fighting autoimmune diseases is to get healthy.

I’m not an all or nothing kind of person. I’m more of a casual skeptic. I have no problem cutting out certain foods. The extra work comes in meal planning and shopping. Do you think these diets really work? How do MS moms do it?