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Making it together

Karen shares her advice about sticking to the OMS diet recommendations with the support of friends and family.

When my husband first showed me the OMS diet guidelines, I laughed. ‘No way!’ I exclaimed. ‘That kind of diet may be okay for some – but not me.’ We already ate meat free, but life without cheese, milk and eggs seemed impossible. I say ‘seemed’, because five years on, we would not eat any other way and my MS has been stable throughout.

Getting on board

It took me a while and a very thorough reading of Jelinek’s book to come around. Without my husband’s encouragement and willingness to get on board, I’m not sure that I would have succeeded. He realised much sooner than I that here was something positive we could do. There were no down-sides and a healthy diet would only do both of us good.

Starting again

Cooking has always been a great source of pleasure for me and I’d become pretty competent. However, embarking on the OMS method meant starting over. No longer the kitchen champion and constantly plagued with fatigue, I was more than happy for my husband to step in and make anything. Since his cooking staples were frozen pizza, pasta and breakfast, we were going to have to relearn together.

And that’s what we did.

Keep it simple

Embarking on the OMS diet is a life-long commitment, so it is important to begin in a way that you can continue. Through starting with simple recipes: soups, salads, pasta dishes etc, you can soon build confidence and expand your repertoire.

Simple meals do not mean plain ones. Salads need not be an assembly of limp lettuce cucumber and tomato. Through adding herbs, carrots, beetroots, apples and nuts, you will have a rainbow of flavour.

Together, we are discovering that making good food is not about expensive ingredients or fancy kitchen equipment. It is about combining quality, healthy ingredients in imaginative ways.

Getting help

None of us can do this alone; we all need a little assistance. Mine came in the form of my food bibles: The OMS Cookbook and Karen Lee’s Eat Well, Live Well. They are now very well thumbed and food stained.

Taking it further

Once you (and your family) gain confidence, you can stretch yourselves to greater culinary heights. During lockdown, my husband and I rashly started a competition to see who could make the most tasty and attractive evening meal. Let’s just say, it all got fairly gourmet and my waist-line suffered!

Making mealtimes special

As a family, we have always sat down to dinner together. It was a time when the children could talk about their news and my husband and I were not distracted by work or other commitments. Our children are now grown and living independently, but my husband and I still keep the evening meal as a special event.

When you have taken time and care to prepare a meal, it is important to honour it. The evening meal with everyone present, allows the person preparing the food to feel valued. Food is as much about fellowship as nutrition.

Making it together

Success with changing your diet, though not dependent on your family’s support, will be made a great deal easier with it.

My husband, of course, could have continued with our normal diet, but he found adapting to the OMS one surprisingly easy. Since it is based on fresh and delicious ingredients, we both found our bodies thanking us for it. Though he suffers the occasional craving for pizza and indulgent desserts, he seldom succumbs, as doing so results in the discomfort of digesting rich, heavy food.

He is an athletic chap and might have worried that a largely vegan diet would have made him weaker. On the contrary, he now can deadlift his personal best. Along with Arnold Schwarzenegger, he is discovering that a mainly plant-based diet does not deplete performance.

Ultimately, the best way to persuade family members to join you is to offer delicious meals and there are endless options on-line and in the books I’ve mentioned. My husband has progressed from reheating frozen pizza to making banana breads and sushi. The kitchen is now very much a shared domain.

Through all this roller-coaster that is the MS journey, food has brought my husband and I together more effectively than anything else. With cooking, as in life, together we can make it.

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