Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Dream of Cheese

In May 2006, I was diagnosed with RRMS and suddenly I was forced to take a long hard look at everything in my life and face the fact that I had been neglecting what was really important. I was lucky to find a brilliant Neurologist who understood that all I craved was a "normal" life, in which everything I'd previously taken for granted, like waking up assuming I could get out of bed, or being able to plan a holiday, could be achievable again. After a brief and rather unhappy dalliance with Betaferon, I started using Avonex, and am still injecting it once a week. Sadly, being on medication, however good it was, didn't prevent the following two years post-diagnosis from being pretty horrendous - you name it, I experienced it: blindness, deafness, dizziness, shooting pains, depression, struggling with ascending tube escalators; then dealing with the obliterating IV Steroid treatment which either rocketed me sky high, or made me want to jump off the nearest high thing. (Not to mention turning my face into a moon and giving me the the kind of ravenous munchies that made my futon seem delicious).

My mum told me about Dr Jelinek's diet months before I started it, but there was a culinary life I couldn't bear to give up. I would tell anyone recommending the diet to me that my life was hard enough without having to give up the comfort food I adored. I used to love picking the delicious chicken skin off a Sunday roast, troughing a crispy skinned sausage in one go. Relishing the greasy fingers from eating lamb chops with rosemary, the roasted bud of garlic squeezed over the top. I cooked a mean Delia Smith crispy roast duck with fatty crunchy roasted potatoes (and still do for loved ones when they get sick of fish). And cheese. Oh, lovely, dearest cheese.... Lashings of dolcelatte on crispy baguette, wolfing a circle of Dairylea triangles in one sitting, and edam. EEE-DAM!!! The clean slightly rubbery but delectable sensation of sinking my teeth down, down into Edam and admiring the teeth print I left behind, like footprints in fresh snow.... I still dream of it.

It was all worth giving up.

I finally decided to give Dr Jelinek's Taking Control of MS a go because I was at my wits' end. It seemed like I was facing an endless cycle of remission and relapse every month or so, and I was so beaten that I just found myself waiting for the next bit of me to go wrong. It was like being followed around by a dark scary hooded figure and wondering when he was going to strike next. So, I decided I would try anything - anything! - to escape from my vicious cycle. It was a rocky start, but almost two years down the line, just like Dr Jelinek, I am now completely symptom free. I will do the science bit at some point, but just to get you reading, I've linked his page here www.takingcontrolofms.com just so he can explain his thinking. He's utterly inspirational.

I now live a normal life.

I can now plan for the future.

I am well!

I've re-learnt learnt how to cook, using some vegan techniques, egg white and mainly using extra virgin olive oil very sparingly, I have almost completely eradicated saturated fat from my diet. I'm a fish-eating vegan (which make-a no sense), but that's what my diet essentially entails: the only other animal produce I eat is egg-white (and I can now watch a field of spring lambs with impunity). It's certainly not straightforward - sometimes I get a little bored of having to have "the conversation" with waiters in restaurants or when I'd just love to buy a packet of Walkers Roast Chicken and munch'em down in one sitting. But the benefits have been extraordinary. I feel so well and my saturated-fat eating friends and family happily tuck away the fat-free food I cook. So I thought, with the wealth of fat-free recipes out there, I would share some of my own recipes to make the transition easier for someone who wants to change their lifestyle as I have. There are excellent fat-free vegan websites out there, which I'll link to, but because if, like me, you think you'll miss eating meat, there are quite a few fish substitutes out there that can help with that. My saturated-fat eating boyfriend is happy to eat my diet, so it is possible to make the transition. I would be very honoured if, by reading this blog, just one person gave the diet and lifestyle idea a go and transformed their life as mine has.

Given the choice between dreaming of living a normal life, and only dreaming of eating cheese, I know which one I'd choose....

1 comment:

  1. I love what you're writing here. And I can't wait to try the cheese recipe you've given - I just need to get all the ingrdients together. Having had MS for 30 years and tried to follow a low fat diet for 29 of them "cheese" will be a huge luxury!