Listening to My Body as I Experiment With a New Diet
For the last year and a half, my husband and I had been following the high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet with some success. I lost 25 pounds, and my spouse (as is often the way with men) lost double that.
However, a few months ago, I noticed that I was beginning to hate my food. I was tired of shopping for it, cooking it, and even chewing it. I didn’t want to clean it up or pack away leftovers ever again. I knew it was time for a change. If there’s one thing living with multiple sclerosis (MS) has taught me, it’s the importance of listening to my body.
I’d been toying with the idea of going vegetarian for a while, and it seemed the time had come to try it. I didn’t choose this diet for any single reason, rather several things led me to it.
The first reason may sound odd, but I’ll just say it: I was tired of chewing meat. Seriously. Whether it was beef, chicken, pork, or turkey, I was sick of it. Bacon was no longer beguiling, salami no longer scintillating. Turkey was tedious, and chicken breasts banal. OK, OK, I’ll stop with the alliterative food jokes, but you get the idea. I just didn’t want to let another bite of it cross my lips.
The second reason was environmental. Countless studies have shown the damage that raising large amounts of livestock does to the earth, the water, and even the air we breathe. Also, many animals in our system are not well-treated before they’re harvested and sent to grocery stores in neat Styrofoam trays. It just didn’t strike me as ethical to continue to consume something that wasn’t given a chance at a full life, especially since I’d had no hand in its raising, care, or death.
And the third reason is the one for which most people lovingly mock me: I think animals experience joy. It’s easy to see it in the face of a dog or hear it in the purring of a cat. Those animals live in our homes, and we share our lives with them. But other animals share their pleasure, too. We’re just not around them enough to discern it.
A year ago, I watched a video of a cow playing with a Pilates ball, and something in me snapped. Now, rather than simply eating a pork chop or a hamburger without a second thought, I’m agreeing with Mr. Rogers more and more. He often said he didn’t “want to eat anything that has a mother.”
I’ve been a practicing vegetarian for about a month now, and I don’t miss meat at all. I’ve been doing a lot of research into plant-based substitutes and trying out novel recipes. And guess what? Food is actually kind of fun again since I’ve been able to try new things (tempeh and halloumi come to mind) and give things I didn’t like another try (especially mushrooms).
While there’s no evidence that eating vegetarian has any particular benefits for MS patients, I find myself feeling better as of late, and more in charge of my own health and well-being. However, if you are interested in diets to help with MS symptoms, there are several out there, including the McDougall diet, the MIND diet, and the OMS diet.
Maybe going meatless isn’t for you, and that’s totally OK. We all have different bodies, and each one of these glorious creations our souls call home has different needs. Listen to yours. Give it what it needs to be nourished — whether that comes in the form of a good steak, a lush green salad, a cool glass of water, a brisk walk with a friend, or even a Sunday afternoon nap. Good health comes in many different forms. Find yours and embrace it!
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.