How To Savor The Flavor Of Wellness With MS

Savor the Flavor of Wellness with MS

As you may know March is MS Awareness Month. You may not know that March is also National Nutrition Month. Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so! True… there is no diet or nutrient that will CURE MS. But following some general guidelines will reduce your risk factors for additional chronic diseases (comorbid health conditions). This is important because having comorbid health conditions along with MS can increase the risk of disability and decrease quality of life. So a healthy pattern of eating won’t cure MS but it can sure impact how you live with MS!


How To Savor The Flavor Of Wellness With MS

Focus on a healthy pattern of eating that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods from all food groups:

  • a variety of colorful (dark green, red, yellow, orange or purple) vegetables and beans.
  • fruits, especially whole fruits
  • grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified dairy alternatives
  • a variety of lean protein foods, including Plant proteins (beans, peas, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh), seafood, lean meats, poultry and eggs.


A Healthy Eating Pattern Limits:

  • Limit Empty Calories From Added Sugars In Foods And Beverages. You should get less than 10 percent of your daily calories from added sugars. That doesn’t include naturally occurring sugars, such as those in milk (lactose) or fruits. Reducing added sugars is linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
  • Limit Saturated Fats. Shoot for less than 10 percent of your daily calories from saturated fats. Avoid trans fats entirely. Foods high in saturated fat include butter; whole milk; meats that aren’t lean; and coconut, palm and other tropical oils. But don’t just cut out all fat: Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats—such as olive or canola oil. It’ll be better for your heart.
  • Limit Sodium (Salt). Most people ages 14 and older should limit their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day. High sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure and may be linked to increased disease activity in people with MS. Read my article about MS and sodium here.  
  • Limit or Avoid Alcohol.
    • Limit alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.
    • Alcohol interacts with several over-the-counter or prescription medications.
    • Alcohol can interrupt sleep and excessive consumption can interfere with coordination, alertness and energy metabolism.
    • If alcohol is not making you the best you can be, consider eliminating it.


Don’t Smoke

Really, there is nothing beneficial to your health that comes from smoking.


Avoid Inactivity 

In addition to following a healthy eating pattern, regular physical activity is one of the most important things Americans can do to improve their health. Read my article about MS and exercise here.


Self Care Is Not Selfish

Nourishing your body, sleeping enough, having supportive friendships and a community, managing stress, exercising, and participating in simple things that make you feel “good” is a necessary part of savoring life and is not selfish.


Last, but perhaps most important…. Savor the Flavor!

Food is fuel for out body and I encourage everyone to put better fuel in your tank! But food is much more than fuel! Food is often central to our family and cultural traditions. Having a chronic disease like multiple sclerosis can be isolating enough. Don’t get so swept up in the prohibitions of a specific diet that you are not able to enjoy your family traditions and special occasions. Eat a healthy balanced diet most of the time and treat yourself a guilt free indulgence to celebrate life occasionally. Eat slowly, pay attention to the your hunger and fullness cues, focus on the flavor of your food. Enjoy the experience with family and friends. Savor it.




Season Your Food With Herbs!

A diet that is high in salt is associated with high blood pressure . However, when cutting back on salt, some people find that foods begin to taste bland. Once you have become accustomed to the taste of salt it is easy to miss the other flavors, even when they are there! Sodium is a flavor enhancer but often it can overpower all of the other flavors. Herbs are a great way to liven up your recipes and wake up your taste buds!

  • Fresh Herbs

When used fresh, delicate green herbs like cilantro, dill, chives, parsley and basil add a burst of flavor to foods that their dried counterparts simply do not. When using fresh herbs, add them at the end of the cooking time or use as a garnish. Prolonged cooking time can decrease their flavor.

  • Dried Herbs

Some sturdier herbs like rosemary, oregano, bay leaf and thyme really shine when used dried. Dried herbs are best use during the cooking process so that the flavors can develop and consider a richness of flavor to the recipe.

  • Use Both!

Consider using both in a recipe. The dried herbs during cooking and then topped off with a sprinkle of the fresh at service to really punch up the flavor.

  • Substituting Fresh Herbs For Dried (or Vice Versa)

Dried herbs are more concentrated so a good rule of thumb for substituting is 1TBS of fresh = 1 tsp dried (or 1/3 of the amount of fresh).

  • Storing Herbs

Fresh herbs should be washed and refrigerated as you would any other leafy green vegetable. After washing, wrap loosely in a paper towel and store in a plastic bag until you are ready to use them. They will stay fresh in your refrigerator for 4-7 days depending on the herb.

Dried herbs have a longer “shelf life” than fresh but they do not last forever. When you open the jar and cannot smell them any longer they will no longer be contributing much taste to your recipe. Dried herbs should be stored in a tightly sealed jar, away from sunlight and replaced after 1 year or sooner if no longer fragrant.

  • Soaking Dried Herbs Can Develop Flavor

To develop the flavor of dried herbs, soak them for several minutes in a liquid that can or will be used in the recipe such as stock, oil, lemon juice or vinegar.

When using herbs in salad dressings, allow the flavor of the combination to develop by soaking for 15 minutes to an hour before use.




I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Greensboro, North Carolina. I help people overcome nutrition obstacles and help them meet their nutrition and wellness goals.

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Hi, I’m Mona. I have been living with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) for over ten years. As a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) I help others with MS to navigate the nutrition superhighway and make sustainable progress toward their unique wellness goals.

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