This is my first MS Diet Progress report! In late October I decided the best way to see the results of what I am doing, is to track my progress on the MS Diet. I asked the ladies on the facebook page if they thought this was a good idea, I got a wonderful response with lots of encouragement! Thank you!
Why I'm Measuring Myself
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about the MS diet is that its only about what you dont eat... "not eating a few bad things is enough to see big results". In reality, following a healthy MS diet is life changing. Its a new lifestyle that you must embrace. There are many aspects to getting this right and I felt I needed to monitor myself closely so I can see exactly where I was doing well, and where I could improve. I didn't want to fall into the trap where I'd lie to myself that I was "doing fine" with my MS diet, when reality was far from the truth.
- 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.
What I Am Tracking
There are a number of things I am monitoring, here is the short list of the items I am now measuring on a daily basis:
- 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
Each of the above items is actually tracked via the following full list of categories, with their relevant target:
My MS Diet Tracker Categories and Targets (Daily)
- Hours of sleep (target: 8 hours)
- Simple 1 to 10 scale (target: 5)
- Aaerobic Activity (target: 2o minutes)
- Weight-bearing (target: 2o minutes)
- Vitamin D (target: 10,000 IU)
- Vitamin B12 (target: 2.5mg)
- Calcium (target: 750mg)
- Magnesium (target: 750 mg)
- Zinc (target: 50mg)
- Barley Green (target: 1 heaped teaspoon)
- Probiotic (target: 5billion live cultures; 88mg prebiotic fibres)
- Omega 3 Flaxseed Oil (target: 10ml)
- Omega 3-6-9 (target: 1,140mg of Omega 3; 570mg of Omega 6; 600mg of Omega 9)
Foods To Embrace
- Dark Green Vegetables (target: 3 cups)
- Colored Fruit and Vegetables (target: 3 cups)
- White Vegetables (target: 3 cups)
- Kale (target: 2 cups, included in dark green vegetables as well)
- Raw Juices (target: 2 glasses - will be included above)
- Water (target: 8 cups)
- Olive Oil (target: 60 ml)
Foods To Avoid
- Dairy (target: zero consumption)
- Gluten (target: zero consumption)
- Meat (target: zero consumption)
- Legumes (target: zero consumption)
- Refined Sugars (target: zero consumption)
Lack Of Symptoms
- Numbness (target: no symptom manifestation)
- Pins and needles (target: no symptom manifestation)
- Itching (target: no symptom manifestation)
- Muscle stiffness (target: no symptom manifestation)
- Muscular Weakness (target: no symptom manifestation)
- Coordination (target: no symptom manifestation)
- Fatigue (target: no symptom manifestation)
- Memory Loss (target: no symptom manifestation)
It takes me about 10 minutes to capture this data each day before I go to bed, but its really been worth it to me to be able to see where I need to focus more attention and how things are progressing overall.
I know some of the targets above 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
To make the report easier to read, and to get a lot of data into a single chart, I've averaged and standarized the various actual values for each of the categories I am monitoring, into a simple 1 to 5 scale, which translates as follows:
1 Very Bad
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. Ideally, I would like these lines to be a lot smoother and all between 3 and 5.
Stress and Sleep are the only values that are not averages, as the other categories all have quite a number of items each, which I have averaged for simplicity sake. If enough people are interested, I might reveal the actuals for all the categories as well as measuring criteria for each category, but for now, I think this single graph gives you a good idea of where I am at.
So, here is the graph for November 2012!
From the graph, exercise is clearly my biggest problem. My sleep was also very inconsistent, mainly as I was sick for a while (which also prevented me from exercising). Being a childminder, my stress levels are a little high, so I will need to work on that. Its interesting to see that I am doing well to avoid bad foods, but am not eating enough good ones, a very common problem that leads to you think everything is going well. Supplements consumption was relatively good, but I did run out of Calcium and Magnesium, which is why the average dropped a bit. My symptoms have been very light on the whole, although not entirely absent, which is the target.
Things That Happened This Month
This month was a fairly standard month with a few lows and mostly just normal stuff going on. Unfortunately I caught a cold, probably from the children, and didn't feel myself for over a week. I didn't sleep very well because of all the coughing and could definitely feel a few minor symptoms creeping back. Nothing too serious. Some numb and stiff patches in my right hand and arm and a strange warm feeling on one side of my back. I downed litres of raw juice with more ginger than usual and started a vitamin C supplement. This seemed to get me back on track quickly.
It's also getting very cold here in London which make me want to hibernate indoors. I also feel extremely unmotivated about doing exercise. During the summer, I loved my power walks in the wooded area next to our house but I can't seem to muster the courage to go out when the temperature is close to zero! Another reason why my exercise stats have not been good this month. I am really trying to make a plan to exercise indoors. Exercise DVDs and Xbox Kinect will hopefully help with this. It is so important to keep moving, especially during winter when your body will start to shut down if you let it. Those muscles are meant to be used!
One lovely thing that happened this month was that my gorgeous little boy, Jordan, turned one. This was a milestone for him, obviously, but it was also a psychological milestone for me. I felt such relief that I had made it through my first year of having two children. Things definitely get a bit easier when your kids are over the age of one. Both can walk and communicate more which makes them more independent. I love watching them learn new things and discover the world around them. The low point of the birthday was that I did have a few very small bites of birthday treats during the preparation for the party. Very naughty of me and I paid for them in the form of a fuzzy head and a bit of tiredness.
Lessons I Learnt This Month
Planning is almost as vital to the diet as the food is. I'm sure most of you know the saying, 'If you fail to plan, you plan to fail'. Maybe this is a little harsh but I think we can all agree that if we have all our meals planned out for the week, life becomes a lot less stressful. A meal plan also allows you to try new recipes and buy the ingredients in advance. I must say that I haven't got this working perfectly yet but I am trying very hard to keep planning.
Cheating on my diet is just not worth it. I end up feeling less than great when I have eaten something I shouldn't have. This feeling lasts for a few hours or even a whole day. Why did I do it? So that I could have a few seconds of pure bliss enjoyment or maybe just because I miss my old life and just want to be 'normal' again. Both are reasons that involve delusions. I know that I need to constantly be grounded and live in the real world. I have realised that MS is not going to go away but that I can give myself a better quality of life by sticking to my MS diet lifestyle.
I love this way of eating! Nothing satisfies me more than biting into a pile of freshly steamed vegetables smothered in olive oil and seasoned with salt. This beats a burger and chips anyday! In a way, I can thank MS for helping me discover this wonderful lifestyle.
Things I Will Work On Next Month
I am committed to finding a solution to my exercise problem. At the moment, the most exercise I'm getting is taking the kids for a walk in the park. I try to walk as briskly as an can but something tells me that this just isn't going to cut it. I have booked into a Pilates class at the end of January so that will be brilliant, I hope! In the mean time, I am going to work out at home (trying to avoid the kids climbing all over me as I try do my routine).
At the moment I am only having one big glass of raw juice a day. I want to up this to two. It is time consuming and expensive but this is the best way to get nutrients into your body, quickly. I want to give my cells the right tools to do the hard work they need to do. The first step to health is keeping those little powerhouses in amazing condition. I plan to upgrade to a top-of-the-line juicer to help me with this (if you can recommend one, please comment below).
3. Creative Recipes
Watch this space for many more interesting and nutritional recipes. I have a fabulous dairy and sugar free ice-cream recipe which will be on the site soon. Added to this, I want us ladies to work together and compile some MS diet Christmas recipes so that you can also have some delicious Christmas treats when everyone else is piling on the mince pies and sticky toffee pudding! Mulled apple cider (alcohol free) is one that will be hitting the recipe section soon along with some creative ways to prepare vegetables. I'll be working on this little project actively over the next 3 weeks, so please submit any MS diet approved Christmas recipes to help us all!
I hope you will be motivated and encouraged by my progress report each month and would love your feedback on any part of the process. I am thoroughly enjoying connecting with all of you and am honoured to be on this journey with you.