When were you diagnosed?
I had my first relapse in 2010, my neurologist at the time mentioned my symptoms could be MS but it wasn’t confirmed until September 2014.
How did you discover Overcoming MS?
A few weeks after my diagnosis, I came across somebody with MS who’d helped himself by changing parts of his lifestyle and following a diet similar to the Overcoming MS diet. In our email exchange, he mentioned OMS and so I found the book and the website. I immediately started making lifestyle changes. Then in 2016 I decided to attend a one day event OMS held in the UK at Wokefield Park. After the event I decided to 100% commit to the program and haven’t looked back. I’m now four and a half years into changing my lifestyle, I haven’t had a relapse since 2015 and I’ve continued to feel better ever since.
What was the most challenging step for you and how did you overcome this?
At first, the diet was most challenging because it was such a big change. In Germany there is a lot of meat and dairy in a typical diet so it was all brand new for me. I had to make a profound change to follow the program and it was very difficult at first. But when I realised it helped with my long-lasting stomach issues, I felt I was on the right track. Nevertheless, I was uncertain on the effect it would have on my friends and family and how I would handle eating out. I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to eat anything if I ever chose to eat out and that seemed like a huge problem.
However, I stuck with my decision to go 100% with the OMS diet - one of the seven steps is ‘do whatever it takes’ so I did. After a while of changing my diet, I thought I would crave all the things I stopped eating but I didn’t. Given the choice, I honestly wouldn’t change my diet back to what it was as I’ve discovered so many delicious new recipes since. The good feeling of eating something healthy, to give your body what it needs to be in the best possible shape, compensates me for many "guilty pleasures" I see others eat every day. After a while I realised how eating is just a habit and once changed you just get used to another habit; the same as if you move to another country where people eat different dishes.
What are your top three OMS friendly recipes?
Why did you want to be an OMS Ambassador?
When I first discovered OMS, it was only in English, and I was really lucky to be a great fan of the English language which allowed me to read the Overcoming MS book cover to cover in only a few days. However, none of the people I was in contact with (doctors, neurologists and other people with MS) had ever heard of Overcoming MS or even diet and lifestyle modification. I felt so lucky, and somehow singled out, to know this life-changing program as it has done so much for me while dealing with this difficult diagnosis. From that day, I wanted every newly diagnosed person with MS to know that Overcoming MS exists and have a choice to become active to become stable again.
Not everybody will adapt to the program in the same way, but I think the more you manage to implement the steps in your life, the more you get out of it. At least this is what I’ve personally seen and felt. It has improved my own health outcomes along with others OMSers that I know of and I would like to spread this message to as many people as possible.
We are fortunate enough to now have the Overcoming MS book and other OMS materials translated into German and since then, it has made it so much easier to help raise awareness about the program.
Tell us a little bit about your Circle
Our Circle in Hamburg was one of the first to be launched. We met for the first time in May 2018, and we’ve met regularly ever since. It’s growing nicely and we’ve built a nice community of people to share ideas, support each other and try loads of different food. I’ve seen that whether it’s five, 10 or 15 people, it’s just always a great experience to connect, especially face to face. The members openly discuss how valuable it is to them to have this support group and how much they enjoy meeting up and connecting with each other. Some of our members travel over two hours just to attend, so it definitely means a lot to them.
I generally choose to hold the meetings at my house as we have a separate room to talk privately so people feel more secure. I make lots of OMS friendly food and encourage members to bring something along if they wish, or they can simply show up and enjoy the food I’ve made. I really love showing them some of my favourite recipes I’ve gathered over the years. We usually eat and chat, I sometimes prepare a subject of discussion such as one of the steps of the program. We’ve done yoga sessions too. In fact, one of our members has completed a course in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and we did a group meditation session which was a lovely experience.
If you could go back to the day you were diagnosed, what would you tell yourself?
I would tell myself it’s not the end of the world, you’ll find a way to deal with this diagnosis and even though it won't be easy good things will arise on this journey. Life is tough - be tougher. There’s a German saying that goes: "A crisis is a productive state. You simply have to get rid of its aftertaste of catastrophe. " ( Max Frisch)
Do you have any other quotes or words of wisdom you’d like to share with other OMSers?
If there’s one quote I live by it’s this: ‘Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass - it's about learning to dance in the rain.’
Artwork by Linda Boueke
If you are interested in joining one of our Circle support groups, you can find out more here.