A hearty hello to all you inspiring women! I'm sorry this months progress report is a little late, its been a very busy month for MS Diet For Women! I have been so overwhelmed with gratitude, this month, for the incredible support and encouragement from so many of you. Each day I am excited to receive dozens of emails and comments from ladies sharing their MS journeys with me. Many of you have been newly diagnosed and are looking for answers about what to do next. It can be a really frightening time! I'm overjoyed that the community of women and I can help you through the adjustment phase and share all that we have learnt with you. And for those who have been diagnosed for a while, it is lovely to hear what has worked for you and learn from your experience too. We are all on this learning curve together!
What I love reading about most are the success stories of women who have adopted the MS Diet way of life and really noticing a change in their symptoms and general well being. There has recently been one such lady who shared that her latest MRI has revealed that her lesions have shrunk in response to diet. Very encouraging to hear! This is powerful stuff ladies! If we only knew just how powerful, I don't think we would be tempted to stray from the diet and dip into our old way of eating, even for just one bite!
Refresher: The Reasons Why And How I'm Measuring Myself
[If you have read this before, skip to My Stats And Analysis section] If you need to know more about what I am actually tracking and why, please see my first progress update for November 2012, I have explained it all there in a lot of detail. I have made no changes to the metrics since that post. But just to summarize, this is why I am tracking my MS symptoms:
- Firstly, I wanted to track my progress as it would afford me the opportunity to look back on the data and see if there were any correlations between relapses, changes in diet and stressful life events. It would hopefully confirm that what I eat/don't eat is certainly making a difference to my symptoms and slowing down disease progression, which would help me to refine / taylor my MS diet a step further for my own body.
- Secondly, I'm also doing this for all of you amazing women! I want you to see the MS diet in action and the ups and downs that I go through on a weekly and monthly basis. My hope is that you will feel encouraged to keep going when you see the stats on how it is working for me. I want you to see my progress based on what I eat. I am going to be completely honest with you and you will notice that there are days when I let things slide a little. Hopefully I can show you that by sticking to the MS diet lifestyle, both relapse rate and disease progression can be significantly slowed.
Just to refresh you, I am also broadly tracking these categories daily, but there is a lower level of detail for the actual criteria, again, you can see that on the November 2012 progress update.
- Hours of sleep I got the previous night
- How stressed I felt during the day (max value)
- Amount of exercise I had (minutes of aerobic and also weigh-bearing exercise)
- Whether I have taken all my MS supplements (see full list of what I take)?
- Amount of good foods I've eaten (foods to embrace)
- Amount of bad foods I've eaten (foods to avoid)
- The presence and severity of MS symptoms I experienced, if any
Some of the targets I have set for each of these are quite difficult to attain, but thats why they are targets! I wanted to set goals for myself that I can work towards, and over time, I plan to move closer each day to achieving them. I'm being honest with you, this is where I am now. But, I dont plan to stay here forever!
My Stats And Analysis
Please also remember, I've averaged and standarized the results into a simple 1 to 5 scale to make it easy to understand. In this way, you can clearly see everything towards the top of the graph, I'm doing well in. And everything towards the bottom of the graph I'm doing badly, this translates as follows:
1 Very Bad
So, here is the graph for February 2013!
I have been pretty stable in February. My right hand still has a feeling of stiffness that sometimes creeps up my forearm. This is usually when I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I do notice a big difference in my hand after I have had my Green Barley Juice and my raw juice with ginger in it. It really does feel like I have an active area of inflammation that improves and worsens throughout the day, depending on the diet and lifestyle decisions that I make. It's almost like a litmus test for inflammatory foods. Really quite useful actually!
My sleep has improved quite a bit now that my 3 year old daughter is sleeping through the night again, but I have willingly invested some of my sleep into preparing our new Members Community! I am happy with my supplement intake, as well as my avoidance of bad foods, but I think I should still be eating more healthy food. Exercise is still poor, I just know I can do better! Overall, very happy with my lack of symptoms for February!
And here's the total progress to date:
Things That Happened This Month
Hard At Work
This month I have been hard at work designing weekly meal plans, coming up with new recipes and devising a few other surprises for you! This is in response to so many requests for help in coming up with meal ideas and the process of meal planning. I understand how difficult it is to integrate this new way of life into your tight schedule. Life is so busy and there often just doesn't seem to be time for any deviation from the norm.
Great news! My husband has finished building the online Members Community for us! And it looks really professional, I am so happy with the result. I have enlisted the help of some very kind MS Diet For Women ladies who have agreed to help test it out. So far, I am really enjoying the ability to chat about specific topics in a very modern social network, designed just for us!
Planning My Meals
When I am organised, I have a meal planner for the week up on my kitchen wall. This little fixture helps my day run more smoothly. I don't feel frazzled by the end of the day because I am not stressing about what to make for dinner or worrying that I haven't actually got anything for dinner! Half the work is done when you know, ahead of time, what you are actually going to cook that night. I can feel calm in the knowledge that I have my meal planned and that I have all the ingredients because I shopped for them after I had done my meal plan. If you are a mom with a family to feed and a household to run, this is an absolute essential!
The meals I have put together are all MS Diet legal and all contain anti-inflammatory ingredients to calm areas of inflammation in your nervous system. These meal plans will also make it easy to give up foods that you have been trying to give up for a while but just haven't been able to. They should be available within the next 2-3 weeks so stay tuned!
I must admit that I haven't done much exercise this month other than my one session of Pilates a week. Having said that, Pilates has been amazing and I have really felt the benefits after each session. I know that my coordination, balance and core strength have improved. It has also been an amazing time where I can focus on me and only me! I am away from the hubbub of the household and I can just enjoy the peace, quiet and serenity of the Pilates studio. It really does wonders for clearing my mind and giving me the resources I need to keep doing my best for my family and myself.
Lessons I Learnt This Month
I have been going over the work of Professor George Jelinek, a giant in the field of MS Diet. I have also been in touch with Professor Jelinek's UK based charity and they have very kindly sent me some fascinating research material about lifestyle factors and MS. They also run amazing five day long retreats on which people with MS are educated and trained on how to eat and look after themselves in order to stay heathy and symptom free - without medication. I think this is a brilliant idea and am planning on attending next year's retreat (this year is fully booked).
Professor Jelinek is on the cutting edge of the latest MS Diet research and is contributing hugely to this field. He has lived with the knowledge that he has had MS for over thirteen years which has spurred him on to research the impact of diet and lifestyle on the disease. What he has discovered is truly astonishing! I would like to do a full review of his book, 'Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis', sometime soon but I just wanted to share a few things with you that I found interesting. These are all things we know but it's always good to have a better understand of why we do the things we do:
The fats we eat, have an enormous impact on our immune system and in turn, disease progression. The immune system usually finds a delicate balance between attacking invaders, that is, causing inflammation and pulling back the attack, reducing inflammation.
It has now been recognised that MS involves an imbalance in the immune system, with the attack response being stronger than the retreat response. What is exciting about this knowledge is that we can actually shift this balance more to the retreat response by what we eat.
It is important to cut down on omega 6 fatty acids and increase omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s have been shown to decrease the production of messengers which promote inflammation; and increase those that reduce inflammation. This moves the immune system to a retreat state. So ladies, if you are not taking omega 3 supplements, go and get some today. I recommend organic flax seed oil. A tablespoon every morning will ensure that your body is getting what it needs.
My passion for excluding saturated fats has also been solidified. Saturated fats actually cause our cell membranes to become hard and inflexible. They also make the cells more prone to stick together which causes clots to form and diseases to develop. Body tissues and organs become hard and inflexible and are more prone to degeneration.
Degeneration of the body is now a known part of the development and progression of MS. If saturated fat is replaced with omega 3s, however, the opposite effect occurs and the tissues remain soft, pliable and heathy. This is strong evidence that completely excluding saturated fats will contribute, in a significant way, to slowing down the progression of MS.
Things I Will Work On Next Month
1. Omega 3's:
Consciously working on eating as many omega 3 rich foods as I can lay my hands on. I want to experiment more with ground flax seeds in my food. I purchased a new brand of organic cold-milled flaxseeds this week. So I'm looking forward to trying them out. Other good sources of omega 3s are salmon, walnuts, tuna and surprisingly kale!
2. Getting Organized:
Being organised with my meal planning. This involves sitting down for 15 minutes every week and planning the meals for the week ahead. As mentioned above, within the next few weeks, I will be launching a meal plan program that you can use to. Hopefully all of our lives will run a little smoother when this is in place.
3. Going To Bed On Time:
Still working on going to bed at a more reasonable time. If I can have the light off by 10:30pm, every night, I feel like a fully functional person and not a zombie mommy! I have even set my alarm to GO to bed now! 😉
4. Get More Treat Recipes:
I'm also desperate to find time to start developing some recipes for yummy treats. I don't know about you, but I need something delicious and decadent once in a while. But it can't be something that causes me to feel bad after I have eaten it. That is just not worth the pain, I have discovered. So, hopefully I will be giving you some creative ideas on healthy foods to cure your sweet tooth, very soon!
Until Next Month
Again, I'm sorry if I haven't gotten back to everyone on this site, twitter or facebook as quickly as I would have liked this month - I have been spending large portions of time developing new material to help us all going forwards! Please know, I really love receiving messages from you all and I promise that I will try get around to replying to every single one of you, but it may just be delayed by a few days. It makes my day to be in contact with such incredibly courageous women!
Tomorrow I am off to get my blood levels tested for a few different vitamins and other levels. I like to get this done at least every year, but plan to increase this to monthly if I can, so that I can be confident that what I am doing is working. I will keep you informed about how that goes and give you some info about the actual results.
I look forward to hearing more stories and connecting with more ladies this month!
PS: I would LOVE it if you left a comment below to tell us how your progress is going, please keep us updated!
Love and nutrients,