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Caz cuddles her dog. Behind them is a Christms tree surrounded by presents.

The challenges of healthy living with MS - especially at Christmas

Caz Makin

Vices...We all have em.. I know I do! I like a glass of wine, too often probably. And if I have wine, I end up smoking a few cigarettes, which is no good whatsoever. Then if I’m tired the next day because I’ve not slept well, due to alcohol, I end up eating junk food to appease my grotty head!

So all three together are absolutely no good at all. This is true for anyone, but with MS the recovery for a night out (or in) is like getting over minor surgery!

I love my treats

There are loads of MS diets out there, but I’ve never tried them. I try to live by the 80/20 rule where possible. I eat healthily, with no booze or sweets 80% of the time. Then the other 20% is made up of treats.

I don’t want a life without a nice bit of Brie and a glass of Merlot. I quite enjoy some chocolate and sweets on a rainy Sunday afternoon watching my beloved Stevie (TV). I like a good beef roast with a Yorkshire pudding and proper roast spuds which are cooked in oil.

Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely tweaked my diet over the years, learning how to make good home food classics, without as much fat or oil, but still the same great taste…

And I’m aware that alcohol makes me quite poorly for three days instead of one, like my 'normal disease free' counterparts.

But you have to live don’t you..?

Cigarettes and alcohol

I know smoking has to go. There are absolutely no benefits whatsoever about it. It’s pretty gross to be fair.

Read our information on smoking and MS: The evidence is clearer than ever: smoking can make your MS worse.

Wine, now for me that’s a different story really. I quite like getting tipsy at weekends (obviously watch your step as your fall risk is higher).

People say to me: you shouldn’t do this, that or the other, you have MS. But you know what, my life is hard enough as it is.

I get down, I struggle with the simplest of things, the pain, the flare ups of symptoms, the being knackered all the time… To be quite honest, all of the above are actually enough to drive a person to drink - to escape, to alleviate the s**t thoughts that, at times, consume you.

When seeking comfort doesn’t help

Sometimes living with this disease can cause things to become very difficult. So we can seek comfort from things.

Food binges, too much alcohol, over spending, over eating. These are all basically ways to comfort ourselves when we’re not coping.

And yet it’s a vicious circle. Alcohol for instance, is a depressive. So we drink and be merry, but the next day can be anxious and on edge. So what’s the best remedy for that..? Having another drink of course..!

And so a dependency can develop, (not an addiction, a dependency). Same with food. I look in the mirror, don’t like what I see, feel fed up with my body that’s let me down, feel sad. What will cheer me up..? I know chocolates and Big Macs!

We actually self sabotage without even realising we’re doing it.

Feeling low or stressed? Read our information about MS and mental health

Seeking a way to find balance

I started this piece at the beginning of October, for sober October. Guess what, I failed! Not totally miserably to be fair, but I did indulge in the odd glass of wine…Only on a Saturday though!

I definitely found my energy levels seemed better and I even lost two pounds. But you know, I’m just not sure I can totally give up my guilty pleasures. I guess (for me anyway) moderation is the best policy but it doesn’t make it easy to stick to.

But I’ll continue on my search to find the best outcome for me - whilst still eating Maltesers and supping a nice bottle of red at weekend.

Guilty pleasures are after all, just that.

Keep your smart hat on this Christmas

Stay safe peeps especially with Christmas coming up. Bingeing goes hand in hand with the festive season. Try to keep your smart hat on and limit yourself.

But if you don’t manage to do that, New Year is not too far away and that can be a good time to change things and put new plans into action.

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