I received a multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 2006. At that time I knew nothing about MS and thought I was going to die very soon as I imagined the disease was terminal. My children were in 1st and 2nd grade. I would lie in bed with them at night thinking that I wouldn’t live to see their high school graduation. Forget about seeing them get married and have children of their own.
Thankfully, my husband quickly let me know that the majority of people with MS do not die a premature death. Still, the diagnosis was absolutely shocking. All I could picture was the worst, that in a short amount of time I would be an invalid. I was not happy about that picture.
Now, I’m doing better. Here are the steps I took when I received an MS diagnosis. Most of these are free, and will cost you nothing financially.
Getting Started When Diagnosed with MS
Sleep is a priority for healing any health issue and especially for severe neurological conditions. I get 8 hours of sleep per night minimum, and more on weekends. Sleep is free. If you have trouble sleeping see my Natural Sleep Remedies or post for information on supplements that support getting a better night of sleep. My Five Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep may also be of interest.
I follow a diet that is 100% gluten and grain free, without exception, and find this very helpful. Studies show that gluten can be detrimental to those suffering from leaky gut, and that leaky gut may lead to and exacerbate autoimmune illnesses, so removing gluten from your diet may be an effective strategy for dealing with multiple sclerosis.1
Don’t worry if you need recipes, I’ve got you covered! See my gluten-free recipes, and grain-free recipes. By the way, every recipe here on my website is both gluten and grain-free. You may also want to check out my keto diet recipes, as low-carb high-fat diets, or LCHF diets, have been shown to reduce inflammation.2
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Staying fit is an important part of maintaining, or regaining health. Exercise is another treatment for MS that is free. I walk 60 minutes every day, rain or shine. See my post about walking to find out how I built up my stamina to get to that 60 minute mark. Walking lifts my spirits and gives me a nice boost of endorphins.
4. Healing Movement
I do yoga, pilates, or weight lifting 3 times per week, and have found that stretching and resistance training has helped me to maintain strength, coordination, and balance. If you need inspiration, there are numerous videos available online for free, or, like me, you can make up your own routine.
Another part of my healing (also free) is to keep interactions as brief as possible with people, places and things that do not impact me in a positive manner. This can be challenging, yet it has the biggest payoff. MS is a disease of the nervous system, so reducing stress is critical in healing.
I designed this MS healing plan myself and chose action items that I felt would give me a very high ROI (return on investment). However, many of the above commitments were radical shifts to my life paradigm, I did not always embrace this change, nor was it easy for me.
As I learned through this process, rebuilding one’s health is one of the greatest challenges life presents. If you make such a choice, be forewarned that it could be very unpleasant and that you may find yourself resisting the very change you seek. This is because rebuilding health means interrupting old habits and patterns. You may not want to make the necessary commitments to, and sacrifices for, your health. For example, you might have to give up watching TV everyday in order to walk for an hour. Or, people might be angry with you for protecting your time and setting limits that serve you, not them. These types of challenges await you, along with healing.
Finally, to create the above treatment plan for my MS, I had to slow down enough to listen to myself, to my body, and my emotions. I had to figure out what I really wanted, what really served me. Even though the process was unpleasant at times, I reconnected with myself and got to know myself better which became a blessing. Am I done? Not even close. The point of my healing plan is not the plan itself, it is undertaking the process of healing, which for me is the process of listening. This is something I practice every day.
For additional resources on how to deal with an MS diagnosis see:
Jay Woo says
My wife and I just discovered you and all the glory you bring to people and society through your blog, writings, and amazing grain/gluten-free recipes. We read your stories about your MS and celiac, and are extremely grateful that you are sharing your journey so that we may all benefit. I just bought your “Gluten-free Almond Flour” cookbook – and it is a beautiful piece of literature. One of our favourite books. Keep your spirits high, Elana. We are sending positive thoughts your way to return the favour for all the joy that you bring to us through your writing. You are amazing …
Jay, so nice to meet you and thanks for your kind words. I am so very grateful for your positive thoughts!!!
I am sure you and many others are aware, but your ideas and recipes help so many others, not just those with MS. Thank you for sharing this website and your story!
I do not have MS. I was diagnosed with anxiety years back, but not doctor ever really helped with my other complications. I was always tired, depressed, anxious, and would work out a few weeks and then get depressed again.
I have scoliosis, and mt back started pulling and I got horrible muscle spasms after having children. It got worse. As a stay-at-home mom who wanted to care for her children, I was failing miserably. I had no family or friends close by. I started doing some research and reading, and found that wheat and dairy affect depression AND inflammation. I took those out first, which helped some. I have since gone grain-free, and my world is so different.
It would take novels to explain it all, but the simple act of cutting out grains and eating vegetables at every meal made a world of difference. When life gets stressful, it’s usually due to lack of exercise, poor diet, and work stress. I am still working out the kinks and balancing it out.
I am divorced, and my former spouse was convinced that I needed to go to the doctor and find the right medicine (I had tried many for anxiety. The second one made me gain 50 lbs… nice, right?) He didn’t believe that my diet would change how I felt.
I still struggle with anxiety at times (I’ll confess, I love coffee, which isn’t the best but it helps my less-focused brain). I have to really work at it. But the fact remains that diet and exercise, yoga, walking, and everything you’ve mentioned (with the support of a fabulous chiropractor which I need), have made me able to live, move, function, and enjoy my life, my children, and my job (I’m a teacher).
I just wanted to say thank you for your recipes and ideas, and your example!
This blog is wonderful gives me hope. And I follow your receipes daily. Thank you so very much
I just stumbled across your blog and when I realized you had MS, I felt compelled to introduce myself. I was diagnosed with MS at the ripe age of 22 years old, only months after graduating from college and moving to Paris to start a job in the Finance industry. My life turned upside down with that diagnosis and the first few years were some of the hardest in my life.
I am happy to say that I am now 30 and things are going much better than they were back in 2007. Like you, I completely turned my diet around when I got sick. I had never had a horrible diet, but now I have a very plant based diet and focus on maintaining a healthy, balanced life. I was tested for gluten intolerance to see if that was an issue for me and the tests came back showing I had no allergies, etc so I still eat gluten. With that said, I very much admire those who are able to eliminate it for the sake of improving their health.
I really enjoyed seeing your MS treatment plan and am thrilled to have come across your website. I’m a compulsive baker and love to cook, so excited to try out your recipes. I always play around substituting healthier ingredients into my baking and am constantly looking to learn more, so will definitely be following along from here in France.
Casey, thanks so much for your comment and sharing some of your story here. Best wishes to you in France :-)
Thank you, Elana, for sharing your story. I feel your grief and struggles. I am dealing with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and my husband has Parkinson’s, so we well know the challenges you faced with the web problem and the daily challenges with time commitments. What grieves us more than anything else is the friends that say they understand but feel as though we are just not trying hard enough to keep in touch with them. Our pool of friends has become much smaller as the years have passed.
Yes. Exactly what she said. Just better than I would say it.
H Trautman says
I think this post is beautiful. What you wrote about here is so much more than just your health and the diagnosis you had so many years ago, but your worldview and how that changed. I’m in the midst of that process myself. It feels good to know I’m not alone and that there are many others trying to accomplish the same for themselves.
Patsy Johnson says
My dad had MS. He did well with exercise and B12 shots. We didn’t try gluten free because it wasn’t known in the 70’s.
The Lovely Jules says
Thank you so much for sharing xXx
I just copied down your treatment plan because it just makes such great sense….for a great lifestyle. I wish you all the best on your journey.