The subject of food has been a controversial one for me ever since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2015. I have always been a foodie and lover of dining for as long as I can remember. This includes going to different restaurants with friends, cooking plenty of my meals at home, and being on a first name basis with the staff at all my favourite fast food spots. Oh, and shamelessly taking photos and sharing of all my meals on social media when I’m traveling.
Yes, I’m THAT girl.
So it was a huge adjustment when I decided to alter my diet to help combat this nasty illness that had come to attack my body. Through personal research and advice from trusted loved ones, I learned that cutting out certain foods (like greasy fast food, chips and other junk food, and dairy products) would help me tremendously. And with that, I needed to make sure that I was consuming copious amounts of vegetables like kale and spinach to help my body get certain nutrients to feed my brain and nervous system (aka what was under attack).
I did pretty well with that, making certain alterations like choosing to drink almond milk instead of whole dairy milk or replacing my bbq chips with rice crisps. And along with that, I bought a blender and started making daily breakfast smoothies almost instantly.
Since those early days of my diagnosis, I’ve made so many other choices. I began putting my foot down when it came to my fav meals that I “forgot” were dairy, like cheese pizza (come on, who gives up pizza right away?!) and I was putting things like flaxseed oil, chia seeds, & green superfood supplements in my smoothies. So I had essentially become an expert when it came to my health. You may just call me a Nutritionist or Dietician and call it a day.
(Well not really. But that’s how I felt. Don’t forget, this is the girl who was on a first name basis with Alex at Popeyes. Man I miss those days!)
So I embellished a bit but the gist of it is that I’ve made a lot of changes over the years and was evolving into a person that really cared about the holistic elements of my healing. I’m a person of faith and wholeheartedly believe that putting my trust in God has carried me through many weaker moments of my illness. Along with that, I started to meditate and check in with me, to make sure that my mindset was as positive that it could be. I learned that how I felt mentally and emotionally had a direct impact on how I would feel physically. (Sidenote: I always thought that this concept was a lie until I started to experience the impacts myself). And since day one, as part of my personal research, I would also read numerous articles online and join different Facebook groups with others living with Multiple Sclerosis. The groups that sparked particular interest were those with people that were healing their MS naturally. I was doing a lot of the same things (green smoothies, taking certain supplements, taking CBD oil, stretching) but I was also taking a disease modifying drug (DMD) called Avonex. I knew that “one day” I’d consider trying to live without the drug. I didn’t want to be injecting this powerful drug into my body forever. But imagining a life where I wasn’t taking it was scary because not everyone’s journey is the same. But I knew that I wanted to table that idea for “one day” in the future.
Fast forward to present day. Well fast forward to the end of 2019, I reached a moment in my journey where I wanted to stop taking my medication. I reached a moment where I grew such disdain for the drug that I was pumping into my body (a bit dramatic but not) week after week. My thoughts raced to the countless people in my Facebook tribes that were disciplined in their MS journeys with treating their illness with a 100% natural approach. I quickly scheduled a consultation with a functional medicine doctor to hear about what they could possibly do for me. At the appointment I learned of some of their options and the costs of their programs. And knew in my heart that I was at a crossroads in my wellness journey. The doctor that I met with was so kind and upfront with me. She said “I know this is a lot, and the costs may be pretty extensive for someone your age. Just go and think things over”.
That was great but I was low key hoping that she would just say yup we’ll start xyz right away and it’ll be covered 100% by your insurance and you’ll be fixed in no time! (A girl can dream right?)
I said thank you and went on my way knowing that I had a lot to think about. But before I left she said, “Listen, if you never come back here and I could offer you any advice, I’d tell you to cut out gluten”.
One thing that you should know about me, is that when it comes to my health, I’m a bit of an extremist. Meaning that as soon as I left that office, gluten was the enemy. Bagels? Gone. My beautiful cinnamon raisin toast for my breakfast sandwiches? Done with those. My beloved pizza? (Yeah shhh, I know I was meant to give that up ages ago) I stopped eating immediately unless I was eating the gluten-free cauliflower crust. All my favs were replaced with gluten-free options.
And guess what? I felt amazing!
Headaches, brain fog and severe fatigue were gone within weeks. I couldn’t believe the impact that this change was having on my body. Along with this change, I had also secretly stopped taking my medication. I use the word secretly because I didn’t advise my doctor. I didn’t get “permission”. It was a rebellious move on my part. And there’s such fear and backlash that might be shared from others if I opened up about such a decision. But I knew I was at a crossroads. I knew that my “one day” of taking the 100% natural approach to healing my MS was right around the corner. I knew I had a choice to make.
At the end of 2019 I signed up for one of the programs with the functional medicine doctor and decided that in 2020 I would go all in. I decided that I would stop taking DMDs and heal my Multiple Sclerosis naturally.
Be well (and stay tuned for part 2).