Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Even If

Image result for fear multiple sclerosis


That would probably be the number one emotion I have felt since my first episode a few years ago.

I could not feel my body. I could not walk or use my arms correctly. They did not know why. They did not know when or even if I would recover.

Much has changed since then. I recovered a lot and now they know why, but the fear remains.

I used to wonder if I would have another attack or new lesion. I used to pretend I wouldn't... but I did. Again and again.

Now I wonder when the next will be and I wonder what will be effected. Will I completely lose my vision? Will I lose my ability to pick up my children with my arms? To walk on my legs? To talk or sing?

Fear, to some degree, every hour... every day.

I didn't know what to do with this. I needed to place it somewhere so I could be in the present with my family, with my current health. But I carried it with me like a permanent appendage and I can assure you the impact was negative.

That was until today.

I haven't mentioned my faith on this blog because I wanted to remain neutral and talk about the facts, the science of nutrition and its effect on our bodies... but I can not do MS without my faith, without Him.

I trust in God and have for a long time, but I did not know how to reconcile this chronic illness and Him. I know He can do anything. He can, but what if He doesn't?

Today... I got my answer through a song from a precious friend. This isn't the first time God has used music to tip that place in my soul that is brimming with sorrow to show me the peace that can only be found in Him.

Even if.

Even if I lose my vision.

Even if I lose my legs or arms or even my voice.

My hope is Him alone... I will cling to Him come what may.

Yes, keep fighting the fight, but when we can't... when fear sets in, when relapse comes, this will be my song.

It is well with my soul,


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Short and VERY sweet!

I have been busy, but I promise I have been full!

When I tell people I refrain from gluten, dairy and sugar in my diet, the most common response is, "Then what DO you eat?". I eat plenty, trust me.

I plan to post a blog soon about what I eat on any given day, maybe a sample meal plan for a week and you will see that there is plenty to choose from. I can honestly say, I am never... ever... hungry.

The best part? I have maintained my goal weight for nearly a year NOT counting calories, NOT weighing food (or myself, except at doctor appointments), and NOT exercising... simply by avoiding gluten, dairy and sugar!

One of the ways I have been able to maintain this narrow eating mindset has been to make the breads and sweets that I have been accustomed to my whole life. I wanted to share one of these recipes with you because it does hit that sweet spot and they are as good as any "normal" cookie I've had, maybe even better?

So, without further ado...

Guilt Free Shortbread Thumbprints

Set oven to 350 degrees and gather
1/2 cup Smart Balance dairy-free butter
1/3 cup Splenda
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 cup Bob's Red Mill "1 to 1 Gluten free flour"
1/4 cup your favorite jam or jelly (Smucker's "Simply Fruit" is sugar free)
For glaze:
1/3 cup of "Swerve" sugar free confectioner's sweetener
1/2 tsp of vanilla or almond extract
water, enough to make the glaze thin enough to drizzle over cookies

Mix first four ingredients until well blended and then form into balls about 1" round. Press into top of each cookie with your finger leaving an indention, then fill each cookie with 1/4 tsp of jelly. 

Bake for 15-18 minutes, allow to cool. Mix glaze ingredients and put in a Ziploc bag towards one corner. Snip small amount of end off corner and drizzle glaze over each cookie.

It's almost embarrassing how easy this has been because I have spent years of my life running on treadmills, kick boxing to videos and doing without eating to loose weight. I will NEVER go that route again. Yes, I need to exercise but not hard core.

Enjoy this yummy treat and see if living this lifestyle is a possibility for you!

Keep up the fight!


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Under Attack

I have hesitated writing on my blog for several reasons.

Big reasons.

Just within the last few weeks I:

  • had college finals for a full-time term
  • started a full-time summer semester
  • packed up our home (and five children) to move to another city
  • moved in, and, of course, I'm still unpacking
  • last, and certainly not least... I've had a new Multiple Sclerosis attack
The new attack posed a problem for me with this blog. I felt like I failed. My "solution" failed. I not only had a new attack, it was my fastest relapse to date.

As always with a new attack, it throws me for a curve. 

I know I have MS. 

I know it is characterized by a pattern of ongoing attacks, separated by months or years, with accumulating disability.

But after each attack, when I accept my "new normal" (aka whatever disability that leaves me with), I buckle down, decide I am going to do more to prevent attacks and I truly believe I will never have another one.

So when it does happen, I am so disappointed. Heart broken. 

I don't want to become more disabled over time! Who would? 

All of my life, when I've considered the future, it was always been brighter than today. Better than now. Glorious. Something to look forward to. More rest. More time. More health.

But when MS stares me in the face my future is uncertain and it is NOT glorious. I don't want to be negative, but do please allow me to be honest.

With this new attack, I lost most of the vision in my right eye. I could not see to walk correctly, drive without an eye patch , see color well and I could not read at all. I could not see the E at the top of an eye chart. Blind.

The name for this type of a MS attack is Optic Neuritis

I am three weeks from onset and my vision is still hindered, though it has gotten better than it was at its worst. It takes weeks to months to determine what damage will remain.

So what about my "solution for MS", my diet and juice plan to remain attack free? Will I throw it away and call it a fail? 

No. It wasn't a fail, because regardless of the new attack, I have felt much better not indulging in my food intolerances, fatigue wise. 

Not only do I feel better, I lost about 30 lbs and have maintained it... without exercise.

July 2015                          April 2016

I had to halt juicing for a spell and taking my MS medication, Copaxone, due to the move. Perhaps that too was a factor in the relapse? Perhaps I would have relapsed with sunshine and rainbows, blue skies and zero stress? I don't know. 

I do know this... I will fight. 

And fight, and fight and fight.

So now what? 

I will keep avoiding sugar, gluten, dairy and eggs. I will implement juicing back into my daily diet, most likely as my lunch and I will get back on track with the Copaxone shots, because that is the best effort I can make. 

On this blog, I will share recipes that are great and hopefully encourage you on your journey, whether it's you or someone you know, that has MS. I will share whatever information I learn concerning MS regarding treatment and research because knowledge is power.

We may not can control if/when or even where a MS attack will occur, but we can be in our best shape when it hits.

Keep up the fight!



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Gluten Free Survival: Biscuits

I'm a southern girl.

I need biscuits.

I ain't kidding.

Just when I seriously thought, "How in the world can I live gluten, sugar, dairy and egg free for the rest of my life?!", these biscuits came in and saved the day! (and the diet)

  • Simple to store - will save in freezer. I'm not sure how long because I eat them all within 3 weeks, but based on freezing breads in general, it would probably be good to eat them within 3-4 months.

  • Simple breakfast, just pop a couple in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds, then spread on some Simply Basic dairy free butter and either some Smucker's Simply Fruit spread (blackberry is awesome) or some raw honey. Of course, this works for a great snack too.

  • Best of all, they are simple to make! These only took a short while to make. I adapted an all-purpose flour biscuit recipe to be gluten, sugar and dairy free. I am finding adapting "normal" recipes works out amazingly well (most of the time). So, without further ado:

Gluten, Sugar and Dairy Free Biscuits

2 Cups Bob's Red Mill gluten free "1-to-1 All-purpose Baking Flour"
2 TBSP baking powder
1 TBSP Splenda 
1 TSP salt
5 TBSP cold butter
1 Cup almond milk (unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 425. Sift together flour, baking powder, Splenda and salt into a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into dry mixture with knives or a pastry blender until flour looks like coarse crumbs. Add milk and stir with fork until it forms a ball.

Turn dough onto floured surface and pat down into a rough rectangle about 1 inch thick. Fold and pat down again. Fold and pat once more. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and allow to rest 30 minutes.

Cut dough into biscuits, being sure NOT to twist the cutter (this impedes rising). Bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

We can do this! It just takes a little effort of adapting some old favorite into new favorites!

I've lost a total of 20 lbs since eliminating gluten, sugar, dairy and eggs from my diet. 

This is eating... all day long. 

And, because of the time restraints of showing our house to sell, to now packing up to move, I have only formally exercised ONCE during this whole period of weight loss. 

Eating good and hitting your goal weight is a win-win, people!

I'll be adapting more recipes soon and posting as I can,

Keep up the fight!


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Vitamin D - Short and Sweet

Theory has it that lack of Vitamin D can worsen if not cause Multiple Sclerosis. The acceptable range for Vitamin D in humans is 30-100 ng/mL. A couple of weeks ago, I came in at a measly 9.3. Needless to say I was deficient.

I started Vitamin D supplements as I don't get outside as much as I'd like, but the prospect of improving my health with one little vitamin a day is always a bonus. It has even been shown that weakness associated with MS, which I acquired on my entire left side with the first attack, can be improved with Vitamin D and the increased risk of falling (been there, done that) also decreases.

Here is an excellent article on the subject of Vitamin D specifically associated with MS.

It would most likely be worth obtaining a quick check on your Vitamin D levels and address any deficiencies. Some signs and/or risks that you may be experiencing this deficiency is:

  • Your bones ache
  • You have gut issues
  • Your head sweats
  • You are 50 +
A couple of other advantages of making sure your Vitamin D levels is up to par, is it aids in cardiovascular disease, promotes weight loss, helps in calcium absorption, elevates depressed moods and it also helps protect you from contracting influenza (which is CURRENTLY in my home as I type... I hope these guys know what they are talking about!).

Vitamin D is available simply by getting exposed to a little sun each day, taking vitamin supplements, and from eating Vitamin D rich foods such as:

  • Fatty fish (salmon, trout, cod, tuna)
  • Fortified foods (Vitamin D fortified cereals, milks and juices)
  • Egg yolk (boo, I'm intolerant to eggs!)
  • Shittake mushrooms
  • Butter (again, boo!)
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes
One simple change can make a huge, positive change in your health, so check it out!

Keep up the fight!


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Food Intolerance Tests Understood

Food intolerance tests have had their fair share of controversy.

One reason for this is that you cannot simply take one blood test and have your definite food intolerances laid out before you.

Here is what you get when you are tested for food intolerances. You get a lists of foods you are intolerant to, along with a list of foods you have consumed a lot of recently. This can be disturbing because you typically consume a lot of the food you most enjoy, and when that shows up on your intolerance test, that can induce fear like none other! (can you say chocolate, coffee or strawberries?!)

To keep this illustration at a minimum, on my first intolerance test, the list was:
  • strawberries 
  • cantaloupe
  • cinnamon
  • iceberg lettuce
  • all cheese
  • cow's milk
  • egg whites
  • egg yolks
  • coconut
  • gluten and wheat
  • baker's yeast
  • sugar
  • walnuts
This was quite disturbing to me (like I actually, hormonally, one month pregnantally teared up). I loved strawberries, sugar, coconut, bread and what is a pregnant girl to do without ice cream?!

Which is why I laid down this list for over a year. I didn't want to believe it... so I didn't.

Well, the truth was, it wasn't all true.

Some foods were on the list because of over consumption and/or consumption directly prior to the test. This is why you retake the test at least once, a third time is probably the charm.

To best utilize the food intolerance test, you eliminate all intolerances listed on test one. About 6 weeks later, retest without any of the initial foods on the intolerance list in your system.

So, a couple of weeks ago, that is what I did. These were the foods still remaining on my food intolerance test list:
  • cinnamon
  • all cheese
  • cow's milk
  • egg whites
  • egg yolks
  • gluten and wheat
  • baker's yeast
Before we get too excited about sugar not being on list two, the second test did not include sugar in its testing. Type 2 diabetes runs in our family, and I definitely ate too much sugar before starting this venture, so I will still keep that standard of keeping it to the very bare minimum.

Also removed were strawberries, ice burg lettuce, cantaloupe, coconut and walnuts! That may not seem like much, but when you have been avoiding certain foods, you learn to appreciate them a little more. Also, I adored these foods, which is probably how they ended up on the first intolerance test.

So, with allll that being said, I highly recommend taking a food intolerance test to avoid foods that may be vamping up your autoimmune issues, namely MS, but only if you are going to retest 6 weeks or more later, after the possible intolerants are completely out of your system. Otherwise, you may be forbidding yourself of something you love.

Keep up the fight!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Banana Nut Muffins!

I can do this!

I can do this all day long!

Honestly, there have been difficult moments since letting go of sugar, wheat/gluten and dairy. Like yesterday, when I made the kids banana nut muffins.  The sight, the smell, the smiles... were hard.

Being the stubborn sort, I attempted a gluten, dairy, egg and sugar free Banana Nut Muffin recipe using the same family recipe we have loved for years, and it was more than successful! It was wonderful!

Whether you've been thinking about letting go of these main food intolerances, or if you are feeling the lack luster of living without these food items... give this recipe a try and see if you don't love me after!

Gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free 
Banana Nut Muffins

Set your oven to 400°F. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.

3-4 large ripe bananas
1/2 cup sugar substitute (Splenda)
1/3 cup melted non-dairy butter (Smart Balance)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of gluten free flour (Bob's Red Mill "1 to 1 Baking Flour")
Walnuts, enough to sprinkle over each before baking.

Mash bananas, then add sugar substitute and butter, stirring well. 

In a separate bowl stir remaining dry ingredients together, then add this mixture to the banana mixture.

Drop batter into each cup of muffin pan, sprinkle with walnuts. Bake for 20 minutes. Do not undercook.

We don't have to be starved of baked goodies! 

This is key to me personally being able to maintain this lifestyle, which is imperative to protecting myself as much as I can against new MS attacks. It's definitely is an encouragement to me in this endeavor!

Keep up the fight!