Paleo Diet (Helps My Multiple Sclerosis)

My following of diets to help keep my Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at bay started years ago…first I was introduced to the SWANK diet which can be read about in this book which is very influential to people like me who want to avoid progression from all angles!!

From that most of what I learned, or caught onto I should say is that beef was not good for me, so I haven’t eaten that for a looong time, with one exception when a close friend served some at her house (was delicious!).

If anything, I was then following as close to a vegan diet as possible, it is what seems to be recommended in so many places, low fat, low cholesterol, low sodium etc. I was eating lots of whole grains, vegetables, fruits etc. My steps to being vegan went by animal type…first I stopped eating mammals, and next would be poultry, fish was always something I thought I would always eat though because I caught on from the beginning to how consistently it was recommended, either taken as fish oil or eaten as food.

It wasn’t until 2009 that I realized there was more information to be had..this was 8 years after my initial MS diagnosis and 10 years after my stroke when I was 18. I had been a part of an empowered living seminar and a woman who later became my (soon to be) Naturopath came and spoke to us. I learned a lot about allergies, Vitamin D, Lipoic Acid, Acidopholus, Dairy and much more. Soon after this I took an allergy test which had amazing results…I showed an immune system response (my body was fighting something) with almost every food there is aside from fish/seafood, meat and vegetables, with the most extreme (read as high as the test measured) responses coming from the grains (including rice, oats, and even amaranth), egg, and dairy categories. I also learned that I had very low sodium, cholesterol, potassium, and lithium, and so I started taking a lot of supplements and brought bacon back onto my menu to help swallow all those new supplements I was taking as well. The main supplements I took were higher quality multi-vitamins (without iron/copper), probiotics, fish oil, and magnesium and potassium via CALM.

First major step was for me to go as egg/dairy/grain as possible. This was a challenge, but I had my husbands support and he made a real effort to cook as much vegetables as possible, at this point we were eating a lot of quinoa and amaranth as my reaction to amaranth was lower than other grains. I was eating as much fish as possible and also a lot of chicken too. It was around this time that articles were popping up about how these allergy tests don’t really mean anything which really frustrated me. I was feeling SO much better, and losing weight, health dramatically improving and people were mocking me for not eating bread, but how did I lose that weight?

I stuck to it and research kept leading me closer and closer to a Paleo diet, an article posted by Tim Ferriss about grains/leaky gut/MS gave disturbingly supportive evidence that eating grains not only aggravates but in my mind could be causing all these autoimmune conditions, so this of course helped me stay motivated. Other articles were found supporting this kind of diet seemed to pour into my world after this and I’m pretty much sold.

Logic is that anthropologically we have not changed much, however our diet has. We were in our best physical condition as hunters and gatherers and many diseases and things like cavities didn’t seem to come about until we introduced grains to our diet. Add to this what happened with processed grains (flour etc.) and prevalence of fast food in our diet and real problems with obesity and more as we can see are everywhere, just walk outside and look at the people you see walking down the street.

Another article I read from PCC Markets talks about the dangers of the ‘low fat’ diet that has been fed to us over the last 60 years or so and points out the increase in heart attacks and much more strongly correlating to the increase in man made fats and simple carbs. It was important for me to read this article because I do have the programs that were instilled in me as I grew up that “fat” was bad. While taking on a diet like Paleo though it feels essential, because it does provide energy and fullness that otherwise would require eating all day long, every moment it seems.

So basically what that means, is that at some point (2010), along with my Copaxone and all of the supplements (I was taking about 10 pills a day or so) I was eating meat (though still barely beef), fruit, and vegetables. That’s about it. I think it is pretty darn delicious too!! Technically it wasn’t “pure” paleo since I was eating fruit, but at the time paleo was the closest diet I could find that related to it.

Someone recently asked in reference to this article to ask if I was still taking Copaxone and no, I am not. I stopped soon after I wrote this when I realized I was pregnant and haven’t gone back to any of the DMD’s at this point (3/17/15).

Another thing that I got into during this time period was gardening…mostly because a packet of seeds for things like kale cost SO much less than going to the store to get it fresh. This is a habit that I still maintain to this day, I keep my garden blog as up to date as I can, I love my edible garden! It is mostly in containers since I am still renting but still, I love it!

Some examples of what I ate:
Yesterday for breakfast I had slices of ham with apple slices and coffee for breakfast. I don’t recall eating lunch, though I probably had one of my Arbonne shakes. For dinner I cooked up some ground pork sausage meat with garlic and lots of crushed tomatoes to make a ‘spaghetti’ sauce along with a spaghetti squash which I ate with the thick yummy sauce on top.

One day back when I wrote this I had; for breakfast a shake, apple slices, and coffee, I think I have some ribs in the fridge from when I ate at Jones BBQ the other day so I’ll probably warm those up for lunch, and I have salmon to cook up for dinner tonight probably with some kale from the yard.

I also love my cereal with no grains or dairy and my favorite quick lunch options!

5/2016 UPDATE: About a year after this post, I found I didn’t have to maintain this diet as strictly as I had been for about a year, and at this point I WILL eat pizza if it is at a parent meeting or something, but I do strive to eat as close to this as possible. If I ever do have symptoms come up, usually the first thing I’ll do is look at what I have been eating, if I have been taking my supplements, and how well I have been caring for myself overall. If I find I’ve been either not eating/exercising or getting ridiculously stressed out I address those things and also become better with my routine supplement and diet-wise. I’m lucky and grateful that I don’t always have to be “strict” but it is something that I keep in the back of my mind when I’m trying to figure out what to eat. I DO eat eggs these days, we have 8 chickens and so it is really good fresh eggs, and I also do things like put coconut oil in my coffee at least on most days to keep myself “fed” even when I don’t have time for breakfast. I do “avoid” gluten but I am not the most stringent anti-gluten type, I do prefer to have as little as possible though and focus on increasing the amount of “nutrient rich” food that I eat rather than obsessing about what I won’t eat, and I do think that is key.

Please post any questions or thoughts on this!! I love talking about this stuff!

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13 Responses to Paleo Diet (Helps My Multiple Sclerosis)

  1. Thanks for such a wonderful resource.Keep it up!

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  8. Kristin says:

    Thank you!! I will do what I can!! 😉

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  11. Shawna Moore says:

    My story is almost exactly like yours..diagnosed with MS in 2000.. I also first read Swank, became a total vegan and progressed to Paleo. I have trouble with my legs but stomach, weight, brain fog and all of that responds best when I stick to paleo. With the weakness in my legs I exercise very little but it’s amazing how sticking with Paleo will keep my 5’6 frame in a size 4 to 6 easily. My allergy tests were high for corn and once you get rid of corn it’s pretty easy to eliminate all other grains. Corn is the hardest I think since it’s in everything. The low fat movement has hurt Americans so badly I think. I see it in my own parents who appear “healthy” and low fat but yet high cholesterol and heart disease plagues my fit and slim father who is allergic to what? Wheat! Will go into severe allergic reaction with any wheat yet won’t eat anything “fatty” kills me. Thanks for posting your story.

  12. Kristin says:

    Shawna thank you for posting your story!! I would love to see a study on this somewhere…people with MS taking a Paleo Diet and from there seeing what happens…I’m amazed how few people seem to be willing to even consider cutting grains…I slipped today and had a cheeseburger and I think it must have been the bun WIPED ME OUT. I’m still recovering and that was a couple hours ago…I’ll just stick to the patty next time!!

  13. Shawna Moore says:

    That’s what happens when I cheat, I get so tired and sluggish. I try to keep telling myself it’s not worth it. Or at least if I have to cheat I’ll try to have a Gluten Free cookie or something, at least without the gluten it doesn’t seem to effect me as bad. It can be tough at times!!! I’d love to see studies on Paleo and MS so many have tried the opposite diet..low fat ie: Swank.

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