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OMS: show, don't tell

With so much confusion and skepticism around diets, Rachel Hogg has realized that a 'show, don't tell' policy is better when it comes to the OMS diet.

Writers are often given the instruction: “Show, don’t tell.” In other words, rather than simply ‘telling’ a reader that something happened, ‘show’ the incident happening to a character in your story.

The principle of 'show'

I like to apply this rule to living the OMS lifestyle as well. If, like me, you are following the OMS Recovery Program, at some point on your journey you will, no doubt, have been questioned as to the validity of the diet.

You will, no doubt, have become frustrated by the attitudes of people who claim that ‘diet won’t help’, particularly those who have also been diagnosed with MS, but seem reluctant to try anything to help their situation.

The truth is, it takes a certain amount of faith to adopt a lifestyle that is frequently given little credit by mainstream medical professionals.

Add to this the sheer raft of conflicting information surrounding current food trends and eating ‘fads’ and it is easy to see why people become confused and lack the motivation to make changes.

People want guarantees that giving up their Big Macs will lead to results, and in a 21st century society, they want those results now. There is also, perhaps, an element of fear.

Fear of failing

Fear of failing; fear of saying goodbye to old, comfortable ways; fear of being proven wrong. Many of us OMSers were probably in a similar position at one time or another.

About fifteen years ago, I was stage managing an opera involving a large group of students. It was a not an easy job, so when someone suggested a trip to the Indian after a particularly arduous rehearsal, I jumped at the idea.

The thought of chicken tikka masala had got me through the final few hours of the day. The diva-esque demands of the lead Soprano would all be forgotten once I had a naan bread in my hand.

The rehearsal came to a close, and a group of us headed to the ‘excellent’ Indian restaurant, suggested by one of our party. I can still remember the sinking disappointment I felt on realizing that the restaurant was VEGETARIAN.

This wasn’t what I had signed up for! How could this be classed as a proper Indian meal if it didn’t include meat? If, on that day, you’d told me that by 2017 I would have been living as a fish-eating vegan for the last four and a half years, I’d probably have thought you were a couple of onion bhajis short of the full set menu.

Discovering Swank

When I discovered the work of Roy Swank, shortly after my ‘suspected MS’ diagnosis, I was prepared to forgo the dairy, meat and whatever else to ensure my health. This idea was poo-pooed by both my GP and Neurologist.

I had been brought up to believe that ‘doctor knows best’, and I dropped the Swank idea with a certain sense of relief once my GP questioned whether I really wanted to follow such a ‘restrictive diet’ when there was ‘no proof’ that it would do anything for me.

To those who have adopted the OMS diet before experiencing any serious symptoms, I salute you. It took a major relapse for me to realize that it really was going to be a case of ‘doing whatever it takes’, unless I wanted this condition to win. Attitude is a huge part of ‘overcoming MS’.

There will always be those who think ‘yes I can’, and those who think ‘no I can’t/no it won’t help/no I don’t want to’. A few months ago, I lost a friend of mine to lung cancer.

An older lady, she informed our writing group that she had been diagnosed with cancer, before adding, sheepishly, “I’ve stopped smoking, of course.” Sadly, her impetus to quit had come too late, despite the many, many warnings, and stories of people before her who had succumbed to the big C.

What makes it frustrating is the fact that she probably had a choice. If she’d stopped smoking 10, 20 years before, maybe she would still be here now. MS is slightly different.

There are always choices

Until we get to the bottom of what may cause our condition, we DON’T have such an obvious choice, but we DO have a choice to do something about our diagnosis. With little guidance coming from mainstream medics regarding lifestyle and diet choices, it really is a case of doing our own research and finding out what works for us as an individual.

For me, that was OMS. My OMS journey began from a very difficult place – finding the program a matter of weeks before suffering a debilitating relapse, - but over the last four and a half years I have seen slow but steady improvements. I still work full time. I still live in my own home, and manage to climb the 15 stairs to get there each night. I have had a couple of relapses over the last few years, but these have been much milder than previously.

Keeping my resolve

My handwriting has improved. I no longer experience Lhermitte's. I didn’t grind to a halt in the 33˚C heat this summer. And, despite my impaired mobility, I have lost three stone and dropped two dress sizes, something I had struggled to do for years whilst eating a ‘normal’ diet. I know that, in spite of my improvements, there will always be people who are scornful about what I am doing. Rather than allowing their negativity to frustrate me, I will continue to ‘show’ not just ‘tell’, and hope that someone may follow my example, or read one of the many other positive stories on the OMS website and think, ‘Yes, I might just give that a go’.

Rachel Hogg

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