Monday, July 11, 2011

The MS Badge

Oye vay! I finally get my head wrapped around the hypoglycemia lifestyle and now it's changing. After a stressful month of doctors and tests and waiting, I get to add the Multiple Sclerosis Badge to my medical sash. Well...technically I don't get the badge yet. You see, the MRI and the spinal tap confirmed MS but I've only had an isolated episode.

So now I wait and pray the next one isn't bad.  Thankfully I have a great neurologist who isn't pushing me to medicate at this point. If I wanted the medicine, it would involve daily shots of Copaxone. (, not with the estimated 30% success rate. Seriously, would you go to Vegas with those odds?) Instead the doctor suggested that I try the Swank Diet. This is a low saturated fat diet that is backed by a 34-year study of people with MS who followed his diet and how it helped. So I'm thinking, 'Diet? Yeah, I know how to do that, bring it on.'

Here are the rules:
  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 or pork for the first year; after that, a maximum of 3 oz. (85 grams) of red meat per week
  4. Dairy products must contain 1% or less butterfat
  5. No processed foods containing saturated fat
  6. A good source of omega-3 (oily fish, cod liver oil, cod liver oil tablets, etc.) along with a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement are recommended daily
  7. Wheat, gluten or dairy product quantities are not restricted. But foods which cause allergies or reactions to an MS sufferer should be avoided.
This seemed easy enough at first. However, I quickly learned that I had no idea how much saturated fat was in anything I was eating. The first big change came with my cherished cheese and crackers. They had come to be my safety snack at work, but they can no longer be a regular visitor because of the saturated fat found in most cheeses. That same day my family accidentally tortured me with their dinner of hot dogs and french fries. The meltdown that followed resembled one of a teenager losing her car. "But I LOVE hot dogs, and everyone else gets to eat it. It's not fair!! What am I gonna have nooooow!?"
Clearly I wasn't taking this well. By no means was this like the meltdowns I had when I was diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia, but it still made the books.

In all fairness, I'm sure that anyone wrapping their head around one restrictive diet, and then having to integrate another has probably had one of these moments. It's confusing and frustrating. Hopefully there isn't anyone out there struggling to learn both of these diets, but in case there are, I will share what I learn as I go. Future recipes will still follow the hypo rules but also be lower in saturated fat, and will be beef and pork free for the year. Perhaps I'm being naive, but if this could help me avoid an episode it is worth the struggle. And perhaps, after a year of this I'll have totally earned a Swank/Hypo Badge.

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