Do any of you, like me, struggle with feeling like you need to be nearly perfect with anything you do? I thought I would write about this because it’s been a big hindrance to me starting to really write on my blog. For so long I have felt like I have so much I would love to share, but my feelings of not being “good enough” tend to hold me back. I would feel much more confident writing about eating healthy if I just did a so much better job at it instead of struggling. :-) If I wait for perfection though, I may as well just never write. I envy people who can drink green smoothies every day and love it and never struggle with wanting to just grab a Mountain Dew. Mind you, I do try to avoid pop and I do juice and make smoothies often, but I’m not perfect. Don’t let feelings like “I just don’t think I could do it” hold you back from starting to develop healthier habits for yourself! It has helped me tremendously to try to incorporate simple habits daily over a long period of time. It does get easier! Some days I try to just do one thing very good for my body, and most days I try to stick to the “do one thing good” mantra and repeat it a few times. These are the kinds of strategies I’d like to talk about!
The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book, written by Roy Swank and Barbara Brewer Dugan, was what started me on the road to looking into alternatives to the standard treatments for MS that I had used for 2 years. I have been following the principles of the Swank Diet now for about 8 years and do believe it has helped a lot to make my symptoms and flare-ups of MS much more manageable.
I say “following the principles” because I follow this diet loosely. I don’t stick to just foods that are low in fat, but have pretty much completely eliminated hydrogenated fats, which in my mind are the bad ones. I also don’t keep track of how many fat grams I eat or how many ounces of meat per week, I just try to minimize red meat that is not grass fed.
The book is divided into 2 portions, with the first being a lot of information about MS in general and the research and premises behind the diet. The information is a little bit dated, but it’s helpful, encouraging, and makes a lot of sense. The book has also been updated at least once since it was originally published.
The second part of the book is recipes– over 200 pages of yummy recipes for just about every category that you can think of that make this diet easy to incorporate into your life! I keep this book with all my recipe books and refer to it often.
The basics of the Swank Diet are low fat, limited red meat, and limited processed foods. Using the ideas for recipes in the book and other resources like the ones I will share with you on this blog make this diet manageable and not too difficult to implement.
This diet is helpful not only for MS but for other chronic conditions as well that are so prevalent in our day like other autoimmune and/or inflammatory conditions, obesity, and heart disease.
Here is a simplified checklist of the basics of the Swank Diet, which I borrowed from another website: www.swankmsdiet.org.
1. Saturated fat should not exceed 15 grams per day.
2. Unsaturated fat (oils) should be kept to 20-50 grams per day.
3. No red meat for the first year.
4. After the first year, 3 oz. of red meat is allowed once per week.
5. Dairy products must contain 1% or less butterfat unless otherwise noted.
6. No processed foods containing saturated fat.
7. Cod liver oil (1 tsp. or equivalent capsules) and a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement are recommended daily.
At the Swank MS Foundation website you can read more about the diet and the other components of a healthy lifestyle that go hand-in-hand and that Dr. Swank also address in this book – “Adequate rest, reduced stress, and an optimistic attitude that having MS is above all a call to live life to its best and fullest.”
I would highly recommend this book as a great place to start if you are looking into alternatives or additions to the standard medical treatments for MS like I was. I unfortunately found after 8 years that following the Swank Diet alone was not enough to control my MS, but I still stick to it in general like I explained above, and do think I am all the much better for it.