Cooking Dinner when MS Fatigue Has You Down

Cooking Dinner when MS Fatigue Has You Down


The TV was on as background noise the other day, but the words of the commercial cut right through my noise filter. With a little drum beat in the background, a woman’s voice was saying, “The doctor called me and she was, like, ‘You have multiple sclerosis.'”

“Another drug ad?” I wondered. But it didn’t seem like that. “So, I’m tired all the time,” the woman continued as she cooked dinner. “But you just have to keep a positive attitude.”

No, it’s not a medication ad. It’s a TV commercial for a food service — one of those that sends you all the ingredients for a meal and the cooking instructions. It’s all set for you to mix, heat, and serve. No hauling yourself through a supermarket and no planning of menus.

The service is called HelloFresh. It joins similar services such as Plated, Blue Apron, PeachDish, and others. But the appeal of the HelloFresh ad hit home with me because, “like,” I have multiple sclerosis.

I was curious about how that MS connection came about for the ad, so I contacted HelloFresh’s Director of Brand and Creative Strategy Jenni Friedman. Friedman tells me that she and her creative team scanned the company’s social media sites looking for customers who already shared positive experiences with the HelloFresh service. They discovered Tre, a paralegal who lives in the Boston area. They also found a young couple with a child and an emergency medical technician. They flew Tre and her fiancé to New York City and asked her to share her meal prep challenges, unscripted, on camera.

The ad above resulted. After all, when you have MS and you work all day, it can indeed be a challenge to put a meal on the table at night.

I haven’t tried HelloFresh, so I can’t vouch for its quality or anything else about it. (I’m definitely not a cook.) But a meal preparation service seems like a natural idea for people with MS — if, of course, it’s affordable. And using someone with MS to appeal to people whose medical problems may make meal prep difficult seems, to me, to be an excellent idea.

I suspect the HelloFresh people are also happy with the ad. According to the website, the commercial has been shown more than 600 times on U.S. TV channels over the past month. It has a very high (9.2) “viewer engagement” rating, and 75 percent of its viewers came away with a positive feeling about the ad.

I did, too.

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


  1. R says:

    My housemate just tried out Hello Fresh. I can say that the foods are healthy with lots of veggies and herbs and citrus for flavoring. Watching her prepare the meal though I could see that it was a lot of work- LOTS of chopping. I was impressed by the packaging of the various ingredients and the freshness of the ingredients. But if you are trying to decrease the work load, this service only leaves out the schlep to the grocery store.

    • Sharon Sheltzer says:

      I also tied out Hello Fresh, and I happen to have MS too. At the time I was working a lot and we also were hosting an exchange student. She was vegetarian and I wanted her to have good meals when I was working on a deadline. The food was delicious and fresh but for me, there were two problems. Especially the vegetarian recipes took a lot of time to prepare, and there was so much packaging material to dispose of. I just did it for a few weeks and it ultimately didn’t work for me.

      • Sheryl Stansil Lyons says:

        OMG! I totally understand. I canceled Blue Apron just a few minutes ago due to the meal preparation.

  2. Deborah Gostin says:

    Main thing is many of us who have lived with this disease are now collecting disability of some kind, and that makes it very difficult to be able to afford these helpful services (luxuries). For those who can afford it though, great! Just hope most of that packaging is recyclable!

  3. Delaine says:

    When I first saw this ad, I thought ‘what doctor just calls on the phone and tells you, you have MS?” To me it makes it sound like an everyday occurance!

    • Carla Danger says:

      Exactly! It’s not as if the doctor called and said, “You have the flu.” or “You have strep-throat.” An MS diagnoses until a few years ago was as devastating as a cancer diagnoses. The commercial seems very cavalier though I am glad that people whom do have medical hurdles find it helpful to simplifying life.

  4. Josh says:

    I didn’t like the ad and it honestly bugged me.
    I feel it’s a exploitative use of a horrible disease to sell a service many with MS can not afford and is barley relevant.

    • Ed Tobias says:


      After reading several comments since I wrote that column, and realizing how much this food costs, I’ve changed my opinion. I’m no longer a fan of the ad.


      • Josh says:

        Thanks Ed, Our opinions matter and I think it’s important to question everything and strive for clarity and transparency especially if a illness is going to be used as a sales pitch.
        Opinions change sometimes.
        And sometimes they don’t.
        Some people still find this commercial beneficial by at least mentioning the disease in the media.
        It’s a sensitive multifaceted issue!

      • Mary says:

        Ed~ I was diagnosed with MS about 9 yrs ago. I find this commercial BEYOND offensive!! The way the actress said her doctor called to say she has MS so she is “tired alot” is jaw dropping. Are you kidding me?!! How about the fatigue is debiliting at times, my brain and spinal cord have lesions on them and most days I have great dificulty walking? Who on earth thought this was even the slightest bit okay to air? This is a very serious illness so I find the flipid way it was used in a comercial to sell something EXTREMELY offensive. I plan on contacting the company as well as putting my thoughts on social media until this horrid commerial is taken off the air!

        • Ed Tobias says:

          Hi Mary,

          Thanks for your comments. I saw the commercial again last night and agree that it fails to show the true face of MS for most of us. In fact, it just adds to the problem of people who tell us “what’s your problem, you don’t look tired?” (or sick or in pain, etc).



    • Marianne Tolken says:

      I hate that commercial and the dismissive way she says “But you just have to keep a positive attitude.” I was diagnosed over 30 years ago. Seriously? I just have to keep a positive attitude, do I? I feel so much better now.
      Well, I’m positive I’ll NEVER purchase anything from Hello Fresh.

  5. Marianne Tolken says:

    I hate that commercial and the dismissive way she says “But you just have to keep a positive attitude.” I was diagnosed over 30 years ago. Seriously? I just have to keep a positive attitude, do I? I feel so much better now.
    Well, I’m positive I’ll NEVER purchase anything from Hello Fresh.

  6. ROBERT HAAS says:

    I am trying not to be, but this commerical offends me. “My doctor called me and told me I have Multiple Sclerosis (like it is no big deal) so I eat this and everything is fine”

    As a man in his 50’s who has been suffering with MS for almost 30 years, I find it difficult enough to make those close to me understand (even, my NOW ex-wife, who, after 3 decades decided I would never get better so she left) I do not need a national ad downplaying the pain and agony of this cruel disease!

    • Ed Tobias says:

      Hi Robert,

      Thanks for your comments.

      After reading what you’ve written, and the comments of some others, I have to say that I agree with you. The commercial paints an inaccurate picture of what it’s like living with MS. Though I wouldn’t say that it offends me, I am troubled by the thought that it may encourage some people to think that MS is less debilitating than it actually is. Not a good thing to be encouraging.


      • Yvonne says:

        There are many forms of MS. Some people have one flare up and never have one again if they are lucky and mainly suffer from fatigue. I have friends that have MS that are in that category and are doing great with injection therapy treatment. I also have a few friends that are older and treatment was not around for them when they were diagnosed so it is more serious.

        People need to understand there are different levels and everyone has their own course with this disease. For someone who may not have a bad form (hopefully ever), it’s nice to hear something positive. MS is always portrayed on TV shows in a horrible way and that can be very scary to the newly diagnosed. My friend who has a tough case of MS told me the her MS group loved the commercial because it was positive and brought awareness.

        It’s all about how you want to look at things!

  7. Yvonne says:

    I think any awareness is better than no awareness. This commercial was trying to bring awareness as well stay on the positive side. There are different levels of MS. There are people out there that have one flare up and don’t have another one again, but suffer from fatigue. There are other people that have a more serious form of the disease. The commercial couldn’t possibly address this as it wasn’t a medical commercial. It was a commercial about a couple that loves to cook and the female having MS Fatigue and their product taking the grocery store out of the equation. It is a 30 second commercial. I do not think it is offensive. Again I think any awareness is better than no awareness. If people want to know more about the disease and the different types of it they can read about it. My doctor called me over the phone regarding a serious matter, because I had just been there for testing and they knew I was not up to coming back in. It depends on your relationship with your doctor. I would rather think of this commercial as bringing some kind awareness to a disease that many people don’t know anything about than to pick it part. We of course all have a right to our own opinions.

  8. Kasey says:

    If so fatigued it is difficult to make supper,
    why the laugh & statement “sets the mood for the rest of the night”?

  9. Susan Stern says:

    I disliked this commercial from the first time I watched it. I found her attitude flippant and her laugh worst. If she has time to fool around she has time to make dinner. Besides who interested in her sex life. My sister has MS and I’m disgusted by this

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