In my family, we talk a lot. And most of the time we talk about food.
I’m Italian-American, so food has always played a huge role in my life. Celebrations and losses, holidays and traditions-food is center stage.
My family, however, takes it even farther. For us, food has always had healing (and harming) effects. It’s more than USDA guidelines, and popular culture understanding of what you “should” and “should not” eat. For my family food is almost more magical than medicine.
That’s why when I started to look into holistic treatments for my MS (and then for Logan’s SPD), food was an obvious choice.
I tried several “MS Diets,” and then eventually landed on the one that works best for me, called the Swank Diet.
Check out the link above to find out more, but in short, a doctor at Harvard name Dr. Roy L. Swank, MD, PhD discovered (in the 1950s?!) that incidences of MS were much lower in European fisherman towns than in other areas (hills, plains, etc.) of the same countries (all other variables held constant). With more research, he found that it was the large consumption of fish and produce (Omega 3s, baby!) and a very small consumption of saturated fats, processed foods, and dairy seemed to have a preventative relationship with Multiple Sclerosis. Even better, the doctor and his team found that this type of diet had some healing effect for those people (like me!) already diagnosed with MS.
The Swank MS Foundation continues to do research, and provide much more information than I can sum up here. There have been arguments that Dr. Swank’s methodology was unsound, leading some to question his results. But, it works for me. I wanted to give this background so that when you see some of the recipes I post, you understand why I eat the way I do.
*And of course, I try not to be too hard on myself, and live an 80/20 Swank lifestyle. For me, this typically comes in the form of nuts (healthy but high in saturated fat), and some “natural” processed foods (think granola bars). I honestly can say I feel it when I’ve gone too far in one direction or another with this diet. If I go for 100% Swank, I am stressed out (think making my own granola bars at 4 a.m. before the kids get up). If I stray too far from the Swank diet principles, my MS symptoms act up (exhaustion, pain in my legs, dizziness). If I stay 80/20 I feel (almost) in balance.
*Remember that I’m not an MD, and am only sharing what has worked best for me. This is only my story, not my advice. Read up and talk to your doctor before making any health decisions (diet/supplement/medicine/etc.)