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:
I have one of your cookbooks and also follow you on Instagram. I read your MS story but I was wondering what your symptoms were that made you see a doctor. I am having some symptoms that I feel might need to be checked out with a neurologist. Thank you!
Crickit, my right leg went numb.
Good morning! I am so happy to have found you! I was diagnosed with RRMS 5 years ago this Mother’s Day. I also have arthritis, fibromyalgia, and anxiety, and for the last 6 weeks, insomnia, I work full-time, and have 3 younger children. I have done research about the effects of diet and exercise on these types of issues, but just haven’t taken the step yet to go gluten and dairy-free (horrible excuses: we have peanut/nut allergies in my home, so I am unsure how to navigate around those when baking (which I LOVE to do), and financially have been unsure how to swing this – isn’t that awful?). I am ready now, and look forward to trying your nut-free recipes. Do you have any suggestions or additional sources that I might be able to reference on my journey? Thanks in advance, and be well! :)
Alyssa, I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnoses, but I’m very glad to meet you here. I would recommend this post for you:
And since your life sounds very busy you might also want to grab a copy of my latest cookbook which has the easiest paleo recipes you’ll find, all of which are peanut free!
I’m glad we are on this healing journey together.
Laurie Wilson says
It’s a piece of cake for God to heal you of MS …
BE BLESSED AND BE HEALED IN JESUS’ NAME!
Laurie, thanks for sharing your perspective.
Similarly to you, I’m off gluten (since 2004) and I’m trying to stick to this way of eating since back then.(I’m a male in its forties)
It’s not like I have any celiac disease (which I luckily don’t) but gluten free equals radiance and high levels of energy so went (still going) for it just for the sake of it or rather for the sake of staying as young as possible despite simultaneously and inevitably growing old. As someone has put it, starches (of which gluten is probably the worst form) rob you of youthfulness. You mention that you are GF since 1998 and grain free since 2001 yet you received your MS diagnosis in 2006. I wouldn’t have guessed if I were to judge you by the pics you come up with in this site that you are a MS sufferer. What these images exhude and suggest is health, normality and beauty. Yet there’s this unpleasant diagnosis at you that is apparently there as well. I really hope that you’ll manage to reduce it to insignificance so it’ll fade away in a harmless, unobtrusive way.
It’s slightly strange though that being GF did not prevent this MS from triggering itself. Or has it been a case of your initially going for the GF stuff because you already felt back in 1998 that you needed to make changes as to your eating habits because something wasn’t quite right with the way your body functioned back then?
Just curious and just trying to learn from your experience.
Thanks for your comment! The questions you ask are both powerful and significant and ones I often wonder myself. The answer is that a load of genetic mutations, along with a number of stressful situations that were beyond my control may have lead to the MS diagnosis. Going on a gluten-free, grain-free diet is great, but there are so many other components to a healthy lifestyle :-)
Dear Elana and others with autoimmune diseases,
I am enjoying your recipes and have modified diet for my family for 12 years, since my youngest received an autism diagnosis. Subsequently, I was diagnosed with celiac and MS. It’s a good thing a gluten-free diet was already a mainstay in our family! Over the last few years, my further research has led me to understand that most autoimmune disease is the result of toxic overload on the system. Many people are naturally good detoxifiers; some of us are not very good at it. Learning about heavy metal poisoning and chelation protocols (Andrew Cutler chelation) has given recovery for both my son and myself. I share this so that others have an additional channel to explore. Wishes for wellness and wonderful food!
Agreed Betsy! I wrote about that in detail in this post:
Thank you so much for sharing this website and your story! I was diagnosed with RRMS in March but my neurologists say I have had it for more than 20 years! A close friend encouraged me to write about my experience with the disease to help raise awareness about MS. Honestly it was the last thing I wanted to do. I like to focus on the positives in my life and it was painful just thinking about writing about my experiences. I had no idea how to start so I turned to your beautiful posts for inspiration. It took me ten hours to write and in the end I’m glad I did it because I received a lot of support from my friends plus now I don’t have to explain myself – I can just go about my everyday life and my friends and family will expect less from me knowing that I can no-longer do everything I once dod – which is a relief and will help my stress levels. At any rate, I just wanted to thank you for helping me with my post and for all your great recipes and ideas – so far I have been too tired to bake anything but my goal is to try one of your Christmas cookie recipes this year. I don’t know how you do all you do but I strive to follow your ‘Getting Started When Diagnosed With MS’ steps. You are so inspiring and brave and I appreciate the powerful work you are doing for people with MS. Sending your healing vibes from the west coast of Canada. : )
Adventures of a brave ski mom: http://love-trees.com/skiing-ms-relapse/
Thanks for your incredibly kind words Andrea! I’m so glad we are on this healing path together :-)
I had just sent you a comment about two of your recipes when I saw your post about MS. As someone who had all the simples of that and many of Parkinson’s, I hope you had a doctor who knew enough to make sure you had an Igenex test. It turned out I had chronic Lyme and multiple co-infections which I manage with a variety if alternative treatments, Terry Wahl’s book and LDN. BTW, ELIS and the Western Blot are not reliable. Women are hard to diagnose for Lyme Disease, and many have been labeled with other near-degenerative issues and treated with medications that cause more harm than good..
Hi Terry, great point! I go into detail on that in this post:
I needed to reread your story. I was diagnosed a few months before finishing my bachelor’s in nursing (2015). A handful of professors told me “at least there’s a role in research for you” – it was a blow to my confidence; especially coupled with all my doctors (NYU, UCSF) telling me medication was my only way which to this day they still do. I’ve partnered your words/regimen with Dr. Wahls protocol and I’m very much looking forward to my MRIs in a month to see if I really can heal this way. Your words are appreciated and I hope I can report good news :)
Jess, thanks for sharing your story with us and please keep us posted! I’m rooting for you all the way :-)