Time has flown by in the last couple of months! It is quite bizarre, to me, that nearly half the year has gone by already. Does time speed up, the older you get? My progress reports for April and May have been casualties of this time warp so they are now going to be rolled into the June update. I have loads of interesting things to share with you, some strange moments and a few new discoveries! I also wanted to dip into the huge area of motivation and chat about how we can stay on course with our eating and lifestyles and how this can improve our MS symptoms. This is such an important issue to discuss. We need to be vigilant to keep our motivation levels up at all times. Our quality of life depends on it.
Summer is finally here but in the UK you really have to catch your dose of Vitamin D when you can! We have just had the worst winter in 100 years and other than a few nice days so far, the weather still hasn't warmed up as much as I would like. Do any of you find that the weather affects you? Some are affected by heat and it seems to make their MS symptoms worse. I find that in summer my MS symptoms actually improve. I think this is because I am far more active and obviously enjoy a lot more vitamin D directly from the sun. I am also able to take the children outside more and so they get less frustrated. Most mothers will know that frustrated children make for a stressed out Mommy!
My birthday was in May and I was the lucky recipient of a dehydrator! My husband is pretty clueless when it comes to gifts so I actually have to tell him exactly what I want. This was one that I picked out on the internet and emailed him a link to. This makes his life much easier and I get what my heart desires. My dehydrator is a beautiful thing and has five large tiers that fit quite a few goodies. Here are some of the things I have tried out:
Raw But Crispy Dehydrated Nuts
I started off dehydrating nuts. I soaked almonds, pecans and cashews overnight in salted water. This is an important part of the process because nature has set it up so that nuts and seeds survive until proper growing conditions are present. This defence mechanism includes nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances that can be removed naturally when there is enough precipitation to sustain a new plant after the nut germinates. When it rains, the nut gets wet and can then germinate to produce a plant. We are mimicking nature when we soak our nuts. Toxic substances such as phytic acid can be minimised or eliminated by soaking. Raw nuts are actually a lot more tasty once they have absorbed a little salt and become a bit more crunchy. They are also still raw because of the temperature at which they are dehydrated, 118F/48C.
I have experimented with strawberries, mangoes and apples and really enjoyed the results. It took a little while to know the exact thickness to slice the the fruit. If you cut it too thin it becomes a little shrivelled and papery. Too thick and it takes an age to fully dehydrate. Even then, you may still get some juicy remnants in the middle of the slice. My favorite so far has been dried apple slices with almond, cinnamon and honey smeared on top. It is the easiest thing to make and has become one of my staple snacks. Throw a handful or two of almonds into a blender along with a teaspoon cinnamon and tablespoon of honey. Pulse the mixture in the food processor until the nuts are finely chopped but haven't become almond butter. Spread this mixture thinly over 1mm thick apple slices and dehydrate for 6-8 hours. They can be stored and make for a delicious on-the-go snack!
These are a delicious discovery! They worked out far better than I though they would. I washed a bunch of kale and seasoned it slightly. It then went in the dehydrator for 5-6 hours. It was so crisp and melted in my mouth. A great snack for the whole family and it is still raw so still contains all it's nutrients. A definite winner!
My Current MS Symptoms
I have generally been feeling very well with loads of energy. This has surprised me a bit because I am usually exhausted after a full day of caring for my children. I do think it is the weather and the fact that I'm outdoors a lot more. This is a big factor for me. Having said this, I have had a few strange sensory symptoms such as very cold feet and the feeling of electrical impulses up and down my legs. Nothing is painful, just a little annoying and distracting. These symptoms come and go and are definitely related to what I eat and how tired and stressed I am.
The good thing is that I know how to manage my MS symptoms now. When I start feeling like something is coming on, I immediately go into rest mode, calm down my schedule, have afternoon naps (when my kids sleep), and eat copious amounts of raw food. I also often do a juice fast to cleanse my body of any toxins that could be causing problems. This seems to get be me back to normal pretty quickly. It is highly motivating for me to see how my body responds to this kind of treatment. It loves me for it and thanks me by functioning as it should. Let's take a look at this big topic, MOTIVATION, and the reasons why it is important to keep our levels up there all the time.
There are countless women who have emailed me in the past year and told me that they used to follow a very strict diet which worked brilliantly for them. Then, life happened. Situations got in the way and their motivation to eat right slowly faded away until they were back to their old habits. Does this sound familiar? These women always express regret over not sorting out their motivation issues sooner because years of unhealthy eating have sped up their disease progression and severity of their MS symptoms.
What Gives Rise to Motivation?
My daughter Rachel does not like sweet potato or courgettes. She loathes them. However, if I offer her an incentive to eat them she suddenly becomes very motivated and will actually eat most of what is on her plate. She is able to picture the end goal and the taste of her reward in her mouth (chocolate, unfortunately). This is what gets her to go through the 'agony' eating her vegetables.
What is your 'chocolate'? What keeps you motivated each day to stick to the MS diet? Let's face it. This is no easy task. Your body misses those foods you used to enjoy and there are many temptations lurking everywhere you go. Are you motivated by the fact that you may end up in a wheelchair if you give in? Or do you want the reward of living a vibrant and full life, doing everything you have dreamed of doing?
We all need reasons to do what we are doing. If there doesn't seem to be a good enough reason to do something, we don't feel motivated to do it. However, if our brains compute that obtaining or doing something is worth the effort, then our motivation increases and we do whatever we need to reach our goal.
Negative vs Positive Motivation
MS is a strange disease in that you can go through many years of stability and then be hit by a series of not so nice relapses. During the stable years, it is easy for your motivation to drop. When you are experiencing no major symptoms, the reasons for your sacrifices can become slightly blurry. You can kid yourself that you are fine and that you can eat what you want and live how you please. However, underneath the surface, toxins are building up, arteries and the gut wall are being damaged and MS is slowly and insidiously creeping up on you.
Why does it often take pain or a negative motivation to get us to change our ways? We need a reason and sometimes, that reason is our own suffering. However, if we changed the reason to a positive one: living a vibrant, energetic life of health, then we could probably avoid the suffering in the first place! Having said this, we do sometimes need to be motivated by the fact that if we don't do something, we will end up suffering but it is not healthy to be motivated by fear alone.
We have to be motivated to be in this for the long haul! What we do now will determine the quality of life we can lead when we are older. I don't know about you but I would really like to be able to enjoy my latter years. I want to be able to keep up with my exercise, do some travelling, look after my grandchildren and walk unassisted. In the short to medium term, I want to be able to fulfil the varying needs of my family and have enough energy to play with my children. I want to be able to keep working on this site so that the message about the ability of food to heal, can continue to reach other MS'ers out there. I want to live my life in vibrant health so that I have the energy to do everything I have dreamed about doing. I want to be able to think clearly when making decisions and having everyday conversations
MS: A Blessing?
I often feel that MS has been a blessing in my life because it has given me that reason to eat right, exercise and take care of myself. It is a warning sign that I have received quite early on in my life that something is not quite right in my body. I'm grateful because I can now enjoy the brilliant side effects too: reduced weight, improved digestion, more energy and less grumpiness! I'm so happy that I have positive reasons to live like I am living.
Some Practical Motivation Tips:
• Write down all the reasons why you want to want to stay healthy. Write them in big, bold letters and keep them where you can see them everyday.
• Remember that if your symptoms start to stabilize, this is not a reason to become relaxed with your diet. You are probably only in a good place because of the effort you have put into getting your diet right. Don't undo your hard work!
• Don't let a bad day or negative emotions get in the way of eating right. You may reach for a 'treat' to make you feel better but this is only going to end up making you feel worse. Replace it with an MS Diet treat. A delicious smoothie, popcorn or kale chips!
Summing It Up
This illness should be a reason in itself to take care of your body and feed it what it needs to heal and stay well. Don't wait until your MS symptoms worsen and you get to the point where you feel you have to take drastic action. You don't want to get to that point! Find the motivation to change your diet and lifestyle now. Discover your 'chocolate' and let it drive you to keep going even when you find it really hard. You can do this! As always I am so happy to hear from you and would really appreciate any comments or feedback.
If you need help and support to take the next step with your lifestyle, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
Love and nutrients,