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31 August 2021

Tips for following the Overcoming MS diet

Changing your diet can be hard at first, so we have compiled some tips to help you along the way. Increasing intake of proteins, carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables and extra virgin olive oil, switching to plant-based milks and reading labels carefully are all good starting points. Avoiding frying and eating seasonally can help you to eat more healthily, and batch cooking will keep healthy, beneficial food on hand to reduce the temptation of choosing something unhealthy.

Firstly, what is a plant-based wholefood diet, plus seafood, minimizing saturated fat?

  • Plant-based diets are based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; excluding all meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs. (Plant-based diets are mostly vegan, but vegan diets are not necessarily plant-based).
  • Wholefood diets include foods that are unprocessed and unrefined or processed and refined as little as possible. Highly refined foods like bleached flour and refined sugar, are discouraged but not completely excluded. Instead, you are encouraged to eat whole grains and steer away from additives.
  • Seafood – the Overcoming MS diet differs from a vegan or plant-based diet as it allows you to eat seafood if you choose to. We do, however, recommend moderating your consumption of oily fish due to its fat content (eat up to three times per week).
  • Minimizing saturated fat – the saturated fat content is why animal fats are excluded on the diet (meat, dairy and egg yolks), along with coconut products, and oils excluding non-heated extra virgin olive oil.

List of allowed foods on our website.

Foods to try & include more of in your Overcoming MS Diet

Note: this is not a complete list of what you can and can’t eat – just a guide to get you started

  • Protein: fish, seafood, beans, tofu, avocado, egg white (only), nuts, seeds
  • Helpful hint: Nuts and nut butter should be consumed in moderation
  • Plant-based milks: soya, oat, hemp, pea
  • Helpful hint: Read labels carefully – store-bought dairy alternatives can contain unhealthy vegetables oils
  • Carbohydrates: rice, potatoes, pasta, rice noodles, quinoa, couscous, bread, pearl barley, etc
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Helpful hint: Coconut is not included due to its high saturated fat content
  • Spices, herbs, garlic, onion
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

What recipes can I make?

There are lots of recipes on our website and in the Overcoming MS cookbook. Check out our list of cookbooks recommended by people following the Overcoming MS program (OMSers). You can adapt vegan recipes by excluding oil or coconut products.

Examples of some delicious recipes you can easily make Overcoming MS-friendly:

  • Ramen noodle soups
  • Pasta dishes
  • Salads
  • Baked potatoes
  • Rice dishes 
  • Sushi 
  • Risottos 
  • Flatbread
  • Mezze dips
  • Buddha bowls
  • Grilled fish
  • Cheese-free pizza
  • Homemade veggie burgers
  • Veggie chilli
  • Soups
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Vegetable stews
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Overnight oats
  • Homemade granola
  • Dahls
  • Vegetable or fish curries
  • Smoothies
  • Bean burritos.

There are plenty of websites out there with Overcoming MS-compliant recipes. You can update vegan or pescatarian recipes to make them Overcoming MS-compliant. Try searching for ‘fat-free’ and ‘whole foods’ along with ‘pescatarian’ and ‘vegan’ recipes.

Top Tips for following the Overcoming MS Diet

  1. Cook by grilling, baking, boiling, poaching or steaming to avoid frying in oil. You can also fry dry in a non-stick pan or cook with a tiny amount water, stock or even tea to prevent sticking. 
  2. Batch cook. By making meals in advance and keeping them in the fridge or freezer you can save money and time. Get into the habit of having delicious food options available at all times, which will stop the temptation of unhealthy foods. 
  3. Frozen fruit and vegetables are a great, inexpensive option to add more fruit and veg to your diet. Frozen when fresh, they have great nutritional value and can be kept for a longer reducing food waste. Find lots of good tinned options including pre-cooked beans, chopped tomatoes, sweetcorn etc at your local supermarket. 
  4. Order a veg box delivery – locally sourced and deliciously fresh boxes provide great nutritional value. Having a fridge that is already stocked with delicious fresh produce will help you to make healthy choices. 
  5. Eat seasonally to save money. 
  6. Join your local Overcoming MS Circle for encouragement. 
  7.  Meat and cheese contain ‘umami’ flavours which you might crave when changing your diet. Add these flavours to recipes using: miso, mushroom (particularity shiitake), soy sauce, nutritional yeast, fish sauce, marmite or vegemite, celery, ripe tomatoes, darker-fleshed fish (eat in moderation), sea vegetables (e.g. nori), black olives, toasted nuts and seeds and green tea.

Following the Overcoming MS diet when out and about

  1. When eating out, check The Happy Cow which has a list of vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants. Contact restaurants in advance to lay out your requirements. Ask for vegan with fish, excluding oils (except Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and excluding coconut products. My Fresh Attitude Guide is also a great resource.  
  2. Japanese cuisine is a good option for low-fat, dairy-free food with lots of seafood. Indian, Thai, Lebanese and Ethiopian cuisines also have good options filled with vegetables and flavour but be careful of the oils. 
  3. When flying, ask for a Raw Vegetable Meal to ensure that it’s Overcoming MS compliant. This is a vegan meal consisting exclusively of raw vegetables and salads. 
  4. Download our chef cards. These cards are great for taking with you to restaurants and to pass to staff to help explain to chefs your dietary requirements.

What are your tips for sticking to the Overcoming MS diet?

You can read a full study about practical tips for preparing healthy and delicious plant-based meals here.