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Ashley Madden

S1E12 Top tips for Overcoming MS-friendly holiday meals with Ashley Madden

Listen to: S1E12 Top tips for Overcoming MS-friendly holiday meals with Ashley Madden

The holidays will soon be upon us, and we all know food is a big part of the fun. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year or any other festive occasion that you may celebrate, this time of year presents the temptation of delicious meals whose ingredients don’t always fit the dietary guidelines OMS recommends. So how do you draw the line between keeping your palate happy come holiday time versus sticking to a diet that will keep you healthy?


Episode transcript

  Geoff Allix  00:00 

Support for the Living Well with MS podcast is provided by Overcoming MS. A global charity registered in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, whose mission is to educate, support and empower people with MS in evidence based lifestyle and medication choices that can improve their health outcomes. Please visit our website at to learn more about our work and hear directly from people around the world, about the positive impact Overcoming MS has made on their lives. Now on to today’s episode. In today’s episode, we want to discuss the upcoming holiday season, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Year, this time of year has lots of celebratory meals, and those meals are rarely OMS compliant. So how can we join in the celebration and have some delicious food while still sticking to the OMS protocols. Today’s guest is Ashley Madden, a full time food lover and health enthusiast. She’s a pharmacist, plant based chef, certified holistic nutrition consultant and a food photographer. A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in her early 20s triggered an overhaul of her personal and professional life and ultimately, she traded prescriptions for plants. She shares her plant based, gluten free and oil free recipes on her blog; and creates recipes for health and wellness outlets like Forks Over Knives and Mind Body Green in addition to working on her first cookbook to be released in the fall of 2020. Originally from Canada, Ashley has moved around the world over the last 10 years from New York to the Netherlands and currently she lives in Taiwan. So welcome, Ashley. 

 Ashley Madden  01:48 

Hi, thanks for having me. 


Geoff Allix  01:50 

And can you tell us a little bit about your background and your passion for cooking? 


Ashley Madden  01:57 

It’s an interesting path, I think for me both personally and professionally. I’ve always been a quote unquote foodie, I’ve always been in love with food and eating out and cooking at home. So you know, in my early 20s, in my late teens, I played around with this idea of going to culinary school very briefly, and then quickly decided that you know, that wasn’t something that maybe I should do. So anyways, I ended up going to pharmacy school instead, so I went to Memorial University in Canada and so I practiced as a pharmacist for a little while, In my early career, that’s actually when I was diagnosed with MS, so that was around 2008 I think, yeah, 2008, I was 23 or 24. I can’t remember, there was a time when I could never forget being diagnosed but now it’s kind of a blur. Then, you know, God after like, like many people who get diagnosed, you know, I didn’t really know what to do so I kind of just took medication, and tried to talk about it as little as possible and then, you know curiosity began to creep in and that’s when I started Googling, and going outside of, you know, the Western medicine box that I kind of lived in so that’s when I found OMS and that was around 2011. I read the OMS book, I think in two days, so maybe like even a day and overnight, I know people do the transition to the you know, Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis program in different ways; slowly or like, you know, cold turkey, I’m a cold turkey kind of person so overnight, I completely shifted everything, and have been committed to the OMS program ever since. Then as those changes happened in my personal life, you know, it kind of started trickling into my professional life and then I wanted to know more about food and nutrition and how, the chronic diseases of the world could be related to how we take care of ourselves. So then I became a certified Holistic Nutrition consultant and after I did that I knew for sure that my passion did lie in food and so I moved to New York and went to culinary school, and I guess, and the rest of history now. I did recipe development for a while, I did corporate talks on a whole foods plant based diet, I’ve done cooking classes and demos. I am a food photographer and like you said I am working on my first plant based cookbook to come out next year. Yeah, so sorry, that was really long winded. That’s how I’ve come here and in between all of those transitions I, you know, I went to culinary school in New York, and then I moved to the Netherlands, with my husband, he took a job there for a few years and then moved back to Canada and just recently, we moved to Taiwan. So and that’s where I am right now. 

 Geoff Allix  05:13 

Yeah. And is it quite a challenge to switch to an OMS diet? 

 Ashley Madden  05:20 

You know, I think that a lot of the big changes people make in their lives are preceeded by some kind of event. I think it’s really difficult to muster up a lot of motivation sometimes unless you are frightened in some way, or you learn some kind of lesson. For me, I should give you some more background about me, actually. So after I was diagnosed with MS, my sister was also diagnosed with MS and I had an aunt with MS, she’s passed away now. So a lot of people I listened to some of the other podcasts that you’ve done and a lot of people when they get diagnosed with MS you know, they don’t know much about MS they’re unfamiliar and they had to go through this whole learning process. For me when I was diagnosed, I knew a lot about a MS; I was fresh out of pharmacy school, I was doing a pharmacy rotation because I did a hospital residency program for a year after I graduated pharmacy, and I was currently working in the ICU and one of my patients in the ICU had MS. So I was very aware, I guess, of all the worst case scenarios, so I was terrified. And I went into a period of depression and kind of denial and then when I finally realised that there’s got to be something that I can do to decrease the real risk of relapses or decrease other chronic diseases that might happen. So when I found OMS, it was just pure relief, and I was so motivated. So for me, it wasn’t difficult to make the changes, I was at period of time my life where I feel like I could have or would have done anything. But I do completely understand how it can be daunting, and it can seem very difficult for people who find out about the OMS program, and then they learn about the different pillars of the program. And I can definitely understand and have compassion, empathy for somebody who might feel overwhelmed, I guess by by making big changes. But I’ve also worked with people, coached them kind of through this process, both officially and unofficially, of I guess making the lifestyle and diet changes for OMS. And I think that once you get started, it’s a lot easier than then you think in the beginning. 


Geoff Allix  07:57 

Yeah, I was like you I went cold turkey and just as soon as I read the book, and then I did everything straightaway. But equally I meet some people that sort of local MS Society meetings, things who are not prepared to do everything. And I say, okay, how about cutting down saturated fats? Just to start off with, because that will reduce your risk and then  maybe look to cut out dairy and do it one step at a time or, you know, and equally if they’re sort of adamant and say, well, there’s just one thing I cannot give up; cheese, I say, well, okay, well, how about doing everything else and then, and then you can see each thing will will improve a bit and then if that’s working for you, and you’re feeling healthier, and you realise that maybe this is working, then we could look to you know, just get every get that final step, but I don’t think everyone is prepared. They’ve had a shocking diagnosis and it’s different people’s mindsets. I think, I mean, for me, it was like, I must do everything I can and then other people to have that traumatic event and then they’ve got to make some life changes, it might be too much. 

 Ashley Madden  08:48 

Yeah, no, I agree with that approach. I think starting off with things that seem a little easier at first is definitely good. For me the first thing that I took out immediately, which I know is the last for some people was dairy. Dairy of all kinds was the first thing that I took out, just from reading, you know, all kinds of stuff, not just from OMS but from other outlets that I found during that time. I was like, okay, dairy is the first to go for sure. 


Geoff Allix  09:42 

Yeah, dairy and saturated fats to me are the big, no no’s, and really it’s not just OMS as you say it’s Better Bet diet and Wharls Protocol, all of the different MS protocols seem to be, dont have dairy. So yeah, I’m pretty, pretty clear on that. So, specifically, this episode, we wanted to talk about the holiday season, because this time of year, there are lots of holidays coming up. In the Northern Hemisphere, obviously, it’s the middle of winter, so it’s winter festivals; there’s Christmas, Hanukkah, there’s Thanksgiving in the United States. So all of these different celebratory meals and Southern hemisphere are a little bit different, because it’s the middle of summer. But still, historically, they tend to have a big celebration in sort of December, January sort of time. So a lot of these celebrations involve big meals and typically, these big meals are very meat heavy. They’re really the worst sort of meals for us but we want to be part of the celebration. So in this episode, we really wanted to talk a bit about some of the tips, how we could make a holiday meal OMS compliant, but still be a delicious meal and fit in with family. So it may be that I mean, if you’re saying with your sister that in some ways it might make things easy, you could have a meal for everyone that’s compliant. But equally, if you’ve got a big family, then we might need to cook the traditional turkey or the beef or the traditional meat, and then how can we fit in with that? Or how can we make a celebratory meal that’s OMS compliant? So do you have any tips for that? 


Ashley Madden  11:52 

Yeah, and I do think that, again, just to give you some background, so when I first transitioned to the OMS diet, it was December 1st 2011. I won’t forget, because I remember talking to my husband, like how, how am I going to do this, you know, Christmas is coming up and New Years, you know and the holidays are just kind of synonymous with overindulgence and rich food, and, you know, sharing food with family and friends. So, there was definitely a lot of anxiety around that. My approach has definitely changed over the last 10 years or so. You know, in the beginning, that first Christmas, I remember going to my husband’s aunt’s house for dinner, I think it was in Canada, we have Boxing Day, so that’s the day after Christmas Day. And so you know, it was the same thing, big turkey dinner, and I actually got a plate of everything like I normally would have and when there’s a lot of people around at like, you know, these holiday dinners, you’re sitting all over the place so nobody’s really like kind of like watching what you’re eating and I just like switched plates with my husband. When he finished his because I just, I wasn’t ready to talk about it, I wasn’t ready to explain my choices, because I was still figuring them out. So I think that, you know, I’m sure your listeners run the spectrum from people who are thinking about, you know, changing to an OMS diet, to people who are totally seasoned, you know, really comfortable on the diet. So, for me, the first thing, and I know that this has to, you know, kind of coincide with your approach to MS in general. But for me, being honest with people and just telling them like, this is how I eat, this is why, you know without being apologetic was really helpful, you know, that came after a couple of years, but you know, just explaining to someone if they invited me over for dinner, you know, like I have certain dietary restrictions, preferences, and then sometimes that would go into a longer conversation about what particular reason. But more often than not, that made things so much easier and sometimes that would end up with the host asking you know okay, well what can I make? and I make suggestions, or I bring a dish of my own, you know, that kind of thing was really helpful for me in the beginning. The second thing, and this is something that I still do all the time for any kind of celebration, or important time of year is you know, being prepared. So I will start preparing meals around the holidays, you know, a week or two ahead of time and I’ll freeze certain things whether it be you know, cookies or cakes, or you know for the OMS friendly meal cook for me it’s Christmas, we celebrate Christmas. So I find with a lot of these holiday meals, it’s about a special meal so something that’s special on your plate and it’s usually a combination of things, for us, we do like vegetables and gravy or brown sauce. So for me, it would be being prepared so that I have like many components of the meal already made and so then you just need to reheat them come the particular holiday dinner. And I’ll get into more specifics about which particular things I make in a few minutes, but that’s a big thing for me is being prepared, making things ahead of time. The other thing is that sometimes it’s easier to keep things simple, like I’m not sure what you do for for special meals? But sometimes, just taking it easy and taking the pressure off of yourself over the holidays is a great option as well. A few Christmases ago, or actually it was New Year’s a few years ago I had 20 people at my house for New Year’s Day dinner and you’re right, because my sister also has MS and it’s very similar to me and that’s kind of trickled into the rest of my family. So my mom eats very similar to me, so does my sister in law, my brother in law, and my husband eats exactly the same way I do. So I did two separate meals completely. I did a like a turkey, traditional holiday and holiday dinner and then I did a, you know a vegan or plant based version of that. And that was so much work. I don’t think I’d ever do that again. So that’s what I’m thinking of when I think about keeping it simple. You know, sometimes it’s just easier to just shift how you think about a holiday meal. And what else would I say? I think that it’s important also to bring stuff with you, this is probably something that you might do as well. But if I’m going out somewhere, if I’m going to like a holiday party, or if I am invited to an event and I don’t know what the menu is going to be or I have no way of finding out, I’ll usually bring food with me like in my purse or in a bag or something like that, so that I find that helpful as well. 

 Geoff Allix  17:26 

Yeah, I think if it’s an organised event, so we have a work Christmas meal coming up and because it’s at a restaurant, then if you ring ahead, even though they’re very setup for the holiday season meals, they almost always have alternatives. And yeah, they came back to me, they said, well, this is our standard vegan but and I sent them the link to the OMS diet web page. 


Ashley Madden  17:58 

I’ve never done that before. That’s great.  


Geoff Allix  18:00 

They just needed to make small adaptions then they just said oh, that’s fine we’ll just make some slight changes because some of the things were fried and they sent me through an alternative figure menu and it’s perfect. So I think any, like a good restaurant will tend to be fine if you ring ahead. And the other thing I would say is so on that we have a tradition in the UK of a Sunday dinner so you tend to have a chicken, beef, pork centered roast dinner and for that for typically I would just not have the meat as I like roast vegetables and I don’t have that sort of centerpiece bit of the meat. So and that’s fine, but I think for Christmas or for holiday season meal, you still want a bit of a showpiece Don’t you still want…. 


Ashley Madden  18:57 

Exactly, so that’s the part what I’m talking about when being prepared. So very similar to you, so in Newfoundland, we also have Sunday dinner, It’s also called Jiggs dinner, which is where you just kind of make a bunch of vegetables, you have a gravy and you have a centerpiece meat, so that’s usually turkey or chicken. So what I’ve done for the last, five or six years is I also make a centre piece, so for a few years, I would make like bean and nut loafs and we we kind of exhausted that option. It was the thing that we went to then for like every holiday meal so we kind of got tired of that until then I got a little more creative as the years went by, and so now I do different things. Some of the things that I do are like a marinated tempeh, and then I’ll bake in the oven or grill it. I’ll also like to do kind of a really filling pie so it’s like a it’s like a deep dish potato kale pie, the the recipe is on my website, but that’s pretty easy to put together and then was gravy on top, it still kind of has a very similar look to everybody else’s plate. So I think that’s important as well. Yeah, and I think we have something I don’t know if you have this in the UK, do you guys have like salt beef with your Sunday dinner? 


Geoff Allix  19:40 

No, I’m aware of it. 


Ashley Madden  20:28 

It’s not a nice thing when you explain it, it’s just the salted piece of beef that you put in with, like the vegetables when you’re boiling them for Sunday dinner, and you know, we do this for holiday meals as well. So for me, it just came down to me asking my mom or my mother in law or whoever, you know, can you just not do that? You know, can you just like, and sometimes they would cook vegetables separately for me and whoever else wanted to eat that way and then eventually, everybody just kind of stopped cooking with salt beef. I don’t know if everybody was happy about that, but people will make adjustments for you, you know, if you ask and you know, you’d be surprised how willing people are to help. 

 Geoff Allix  21:07 

And so that centerpiece thing you said you sort of went from a nut and bean roast? Where would people look for other ideas for that? I mean, you mentioned you, I’m happy to call out your website, so was it And is there any other resources? 


Ashley Madden  21:28 

Yes. Oh, my God, there’s yeah, there’s so many. Obviously, like Pinterest and online plant based blogs are you know, super helpful. There’s lots of things there, all you have to do is put in you know, a bean and nut loaf or just a lentil loaf or something like that, that’s super easy to make you essentially just combine like beans or lentils, whatever legumes you’re using flavorings, some flour and then a bunch of seasonings and a binder of some sorts, sometimes use like flax seeds and you combine it all and then you pack it into a loaf pan and bake it, it’s very easy, It freezes fantastic. So I used to make those in bulk. So making things in bulk is, you know, really helpful when it comes to making recipes that are a bit more involved or a bit more special. So that’s like one example. I also have, in the beginning, a lot of different cookbooks were kind of my go to, so I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Forks Over Knives? Yeah. So originally, the Forks Over Knives cookbook has, you know, really, the original cookbook has, you know, really simple recipes and that’s kind of where I learned a lot about like oil free cooking. And, you know, using more whole foods to cook because for me, making OMS friendly meals delicious is all about just using whole foods in new ways. You know, and just in different ways so using, like, we’re talking about using beans and nuts to make a savory loaf, those kinds of things so Forks Over Knives was helpful for me with that. And there are other cookbooks that are really popular, like the Oh, She Glows cookbook that’s really popular in Canada and United States, I know that for sure. And then also, you know, the forum, the OMS forum is fantastic. The first couple years, I was on the OMS program, I was regularly posting in the forum looking for advice for you know, restaurants to eat at, if I was visiting a certain city, and I knew there were people there who might you might know some recommendations or for recipes or anything, you know, I found that to be extremely helpful in the beginning, especially with diet. 


Geoff Allix  23:46 

I found actually just I know this isn’t a travel episode, but I found the OMS forum really useful if I’m going to another country to get a translation of the basic food rules. So if I’m going somewhere, and then you’ll find someone, it was somewhere like Denmark, where I don’t speak Danish at all and so I went onto the location bit of the forum and said, in Danish, I went for a basic Google Translate attempt and said yes, would this be correct? And it was close, but not and they said, Oh, you probably want to change that for that and so then I had printed out a little card so that I could show that to the restaurant, most people spoke English anyway, but then you had that just to make sure. Yeah, I did that wherever I go, really so I’ve got I’ve got now versions in French and Spanish. 


Ashley Madden  24:42 

That’s actually that’s really helpful. I do that with my friends who speak different languages. I get them to translate, you know, the basic guidelines of what I’m looking for when I go out, but very similar to your story when, the first couple years that I was on the OMS program I was going to New York this was before I went there for culinary school, I was going there on vacation and I just posted on the forum there, you know, does anybody know of any OMS friendly restaurants that I could eat at? Then this woman wrote me back, like the most amazing, inclusive, specific set of recommendations ever and then we started talking so frequently that we just exchanged email addresses and then we became really close friends and then she lived in LA, I lived on the east coast of Canada, we ended up meeting in LA two or three times, I think, and I’m actually having dinner with her in a couple of weeks in New York, I have to go to New York for a reason anyways. So it’s just interesting what the forum can do for you so you know, it’s a really cool place. 


Geoff Allix  25:43 

And just as a specific one, that from last Christmas, I came across a recipe for vegan wellington; so beef wellingtons, that I don’t know if it’s eaten everywhere, but it’s essentially quite a showpiece meal, because it’s a big piece of fillet beef and it’s got mushrooms and wrapped and pastry, and so there’s vegan versions of this and it was a real sort of showpiece, but everyone wanted a piece of this because it was it looks really good and it was delicious and that was from a, there’s a couple of guys in Ireland called the Happy Pear and they’ve got books, but then they’ve got YouTube channels and it’s freely available actually, it was on the YouTube channel, how to make their vegan wellington and it did take a bit of work. So it was one of those sorts, as you say, cook it for you cook it or not cook it but prepare it first, freeze it and then put it in the oven at the last point, so I was actually going to my brother’s so I had it all ready to go and then just needed to go into the oven half an hour and then it was done. 


Ashley Madden  27:11 

Delicious, that sounds delicious. I think that you know, that’s something that would definitely, like kind of blend in that could that kind of meal, you know, you could bring it and it kind of looks like everybody else’s kind of traditional holiday meal. I think also, and I mentioned this earlier, I think that eventually, you learn to embrace that your plate looks different, you know, like, I think for me in the last couple of years, I don’t really try to mimic exactly what everybody else’s plate looks like, I kind of try and make something that is a little more maybe involved or a little more fancy, but it doesn’t need to exactly, you know, like mimic the same kind of plate that maybe I would have done, you know, seven or eight years ago. Just in case there’s anybody listening who feels, you know, pressure to be like, Okay, how can I make, you know, something that’s gonna look the same? That’s gonna go with gravy. Like, I think it’s okay, i you’re in to different flavors, and you just want something delicious to totally, you know, just like do your own thing. 


Geoff Allix  28:15 

Okay, and would it be any different if it was an evening, like, where we might just have like canapes with drinks, things like that, is there any other tips for that sort of thing, if you’re having friends around, maybe for like a New Year celebration, and you just want some canapes or side dishes to have with drinks? 


Ashley Madden  28:39 

For sure and actually, that’s probably the most enjoyable way for me to have people in over the holidays is for kind of like finger foods and snacks. So there are a lot of foods that you can make, that people don’t even know don’t have dairy or you know, are low in saturated fat or don’t have meat. So like different kinds of dips, you know, hummus is or I like to make an artichoke spinach dip out of cashews and frozen spinach, and you know, canned artichokes, and you bake in the oven the same way you would just a regular one that’s made with cream, cheese and nobody really knows the difference. So I find that those kinds of parties, it’s really easy to make stuff. And then the other thing too, I would say for parties is you know, call on your friends and your family and make it like a potluck or just ask someone to bring something small, you know, that’s always that’s always really helpful. 


Geoff Allix  29:38 

Yeah, sometimes I have problems where I take things along and I have gone to some trouble and make something really nice and then everyone eats my food. But then I feel really bad and say I don’t want to speak to say you can’t eat this, but I can’t eat the rest of it. 


Ashley Madden  29:55 

I totally relate to that. And that kind of feels good to though, you know, you’re like, hey, but you know, this is actually really good for you how many dinner parties or you know, just like cocktail parties have I been at where all I end up talking about is food because someone will be eating something that I made and brought, and we strike up a conversation, I’m like, yeah, that, you know, there’s no dairy in that, or, you know, there’s no oil in that, or it’s made from, you know, beans, my favorite food group to kind of do magical things with is  beans so and then, you end up talking and telling them that, you know, not only is it delicious, it’s like, actually really good for you. And then, you know, they get into it, and then everybody eats it, that happens all the time. So, yeah, that’s something that you might run into, if you make something delicious, that’s healthy, you know, be warned that people might want to eat it. But you know, but like, those kinds of parties are, I think, a little easier, because you can make familiar foods, not just for yourself, but for other people, you know, like, it’s easy to make bruschetta and you know, and if Gluten is a part of your diet, it’s so easy to get, you know, the delicious sourdough bread and to make a couple of dips, or to make a guacamole or, you know, like stuffed mushrooms, that’s a big one that I used to make a lot in the beginning. If you do like cooking, and you can be a little bit creative, and you want to try new things, I think the holidays is a really great time to do that. 


Geoff Allix  31:26 

So we’ve talked a lot about the main meal, the main dish, if you like, but what about puddings and desserts and the more sort of sweeter dishes that you might have? 


Ashley Madden  31:36 

Yeah, so this is my absolute favorite. I’m so passionate about this topic, I have a really big sweet tooth and for a few years, you know, I missed really delicious baked goods. So for Christmas, there is one particular recipe that I make almost every Thanksgiving and every Christmas and it’s like a plant based spice cake. I made a couple of versions of it and then I made one and it was just absolute perfection so this has become a really popular recipe from my blog. So maybe I can either give you the recipe and you can post it in your show notes or I can give you the link or something. But it’s like a Christmas Bundt cake and it’s made from oat flour and almond flour and there’s some coconut sugar in there and then tons of spices. So you know all those like warm, delicious spices that you think about when you think of the holidays or the colder seasons, so like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, all spice and then I drizzle a cashew cream cheese kind of over it and top it with pomegranate seeds and pecans and it’s just incredible. So I will I’ll give you the link to that. So that’s something that I make a lot of, and it actually freezes very well. So this is one of those recipes that I make way ahead of time. So you know, I can make it a couple of weeks before a particular meal and freeze it and then I’m good to go, I just take it at the night before and it’s ready for the next day. Another thing that I would say that I make a lot of because you said puddings and I’m not sure for your international listeners, I know when you say when you say pudding in British does that mean like actual pudding or like what’s a pudding? 


Geoff Allix  33:20 

It can be either. I mean, I mean the sweet thing you have after the main meal 


Ashley Madden  33:27 

 Okay? puddings, right? Okay, yeah, so just like dessert, 


Geoff Allix  33:30 

I know that the things like pudding and pie can mean different things in different countries. 


Ashley Madden  33:35 

Yeah, I’m getting a lesson here. So I was going to say because another one of my go to desserts are actual puddings. And for that, you know, you need to have a blender and if anybody is looking to to get an appliance to make whole foods cooking easier, I would say a good quality blender is number one. But you know, you can just blend I make a lot of blended desserts. So I blend mangoes with cashews and cinnamon and it’s just an incredible, really decadent tasting, but still light and creamy dessert. I like to make chocolate puddings, I make one out of sweet potatoes and cocoa powder and almond butter. So there’s a lot of like, easy ways of throwing together dessert as well. They don’t, you know, not all of them need to be, you know, baked goods. But I would say those are the two things around the holiday season that I make the most of; the spice cake, and then you know, puddings that I can just whip together the day of and pop in the fridge and then serve and you know in little dishes with, you know, berries on top or something like that. 


Geoff Allix  34:41 

Great. We’ll add a link in the show notes that you can have a look at a link to those recipes. 


Ashley Madden  34:47 

Okay, great. 


Geoff Allix  34:50 

And so, we’ve talked a lot about the holidays, but is there just a nugget of advice that you’d have in general from preparing meals, just as a closing tip for everyone about cooking when you’re following an OMS compliant diet? 


Ashley Madden  35:10 

Yeah, you know, I think there’s a few things. Over the last few years I’ve been put in touch with or people have reached out to me people that I know from where I’m from, or friends of friends or friends of family, people who have been diagnosed with MS and you know, and they, they heard through the grapevine that, you know, I follow a certain kind of diet, or I did something. So then I kind of, you know, introduce people to the OMS program and I’ve seen a lot of people through the very beginning to, you know, what is this, to people who just, you know, I haven’t heard of in a couple of years, because they’re off doing their own thing, because they eat this way again, and I would say that the thing that I’ve learned from watching other people transition and helping people and helping my sister is that you’ve got to feel really good about the choices you’re making and you’ve got to be kind to yourself, you know, if it takes you longer to give up something, or you’re struggling with something, you can’t berate yourself or get down on yourself, because it’s difficult. Like it is, it is difficult, if everybody, if it was super easy, then you know, the OMS program, and all of the resources it provides, you know, might not be necessary. The other thing that I would say is when it comes to cooking, don’t be afraid to try new things, you know, things like tofu, and tempeh, and you know, if you’re not used to cooking with beans, struggling with beans, and then to include like a different variety of whole grains, and all this stuff isn’t going to come overnight. But you know, it does give you something, it’s almost like a bit of a hobby, I guess, you know, just to get a little more interested in including, you know, variety into your diet. So I would say be kind to yourself, and try new things that’s, that’s for sure. Then also if you can, get like a buddy, like a cooking buddy, it doesn’t need to be somebody who’s also on the OMS program, but I have found that really helpful for other people, like when someone can call me directly and ask me, how did you make that? Or what ingredient did you use for this? Or where did you find this? I think that it’s helpful to just be able to reach out and share the experience with other people and to not try and do it all alone. And if and if you have a buddy, who’s on the OMS program, which I have met a few through the OMS forums, you know, that’s even better. 


Geoff Allix  37:40 

Thank you very much for that. So thank you very much for joining us. We’ve had some excellent tips. I look very much look forward very much to your book coming out. Happy holiday season. 


Ashley Madden  37:53 

Yeah, happy holidays to you as well. And I just want to say, thanks for doing this. This is I think this is going to be really helpful for people, when I started the MS diet or the OMS diet, I you know, I just think that anybody who’s coming to this now, there’s so many great resources that you guys have packaged into the OMS program. I just think it’s absolutely wonderful. 


Geoff Allix  38:14 

Thank you. With that, I would like to thank you all for listening to this episode of Living Well with MS. Remember that there is a wealth of information at including show notes, and an archive of all Living Well with MS episodes. Once again, that’s There you can also find OMS friendly recipes and exercise tips. Connect with other OMSers in your local area through are OMS circles program, and learn about the latest research going on in the MS world generally and related to OMS specifically. I encourage you to register on the site, and stay informed about the latest news and updates. I also encourage you to subscribe to this podcast, so you never miss an episode and please feel free to share it with others who might find it a value. Let us know what you think about the podcast by leaving a review and if you have ideas for future episodes, we’d love to hear from you. So please contact us via our website Thanks again for listening, and for joining me on this journey to Overcoming MS and Living Well with multiple sclerosis. I’m Geoff Allix and I’ll see you next time. 


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Ashley's bio:

Ashley Madden is a full-time food lover and health enthusiast. She’s a pharmacist, plant-based chef, certified holistic nutrition consultant and food photographer.  A diagnosis of MS in her early 20s triggered an overhaul of her personal and professional life and, ultimately, she traded prescriptions for plants! She shares her plant-based, gluten-free and oil-free recipes on her blog and creates recipes for health and wellness outlets like Forks Over Knives and Mind Body Green in addition to working on her first cookbook, to be released in the fall of 2020. Originally from Canada, Ashley has moved around the world over the last 10 years, from New York to the Netherlands, and currently she lives in Taiwan. You can learn more about Ashley and her taste bud-tempting work here.