« Back

MS and Coeliac Disease

Fitted

Thursday July 05 2018 11:00 AM

This week Helen Farrell talks delicious, nutritious food and current food trends. Read on for her take on MS, gluten and the adjustments she (and her family) have to make so she stays healthy and well. 

“Gluten! Such a poison” said the man at the café till. “How”? In what way” I asked, curious to know his reasoning. “You know, it’s really bad for you, causes so many problems in the body” he said. “Yeah”, I said vaguely, glancing at my gluten-free chocolate muffin loaded with sugar and oil. He looked like he worked out, Instagrammed and used sunbeds. I don’t.  

It made me think a bit about the whole gluten-free (GF) trend. Seems like there are lots of people following the GF diet without truly knowing why; such a lot of hassle when you don’t medically need to. If you ask people their reasons for going GF, some say they feel better without gluten, some MSers think their MS will be alleviated, but the bottom line for many is because they think it’s bad or they’ll lose weight by going GF. As a person with Coeliac disease I can assure you that a GF diet can be very unhealthy if you only live on GF chocolate, crisps and pizza. A normal diet can include plenty of gluten and still be very healthy.   

It was a shock when my husband mentioned that dealing with my Coeliac disease was more hassle than MS. He wasn’t being unkind. In terms of impact on things, he was more aware of Coeliac disease. When we want to stay somewhere, join with family for a meal, for shopping, to even prepare our food and avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen (a crumb will cause immune-damage to a true Coeliac), it’s more present for him. But then I realised that it’s not just him that feels that. Most people make more of an allowance for my Coeliac disease than my MS, which is mostly invisible. 

MS is horribly, constantly present to me, but like an iceberg, the bulk of it unseen by most (but maybe I’m glad it is). MS feels like a relentless Terminator robot, coming for me without cease, trying to annihilate me. Even when I try to escape, it melts down and comes at me afresh. Coeliac disease is merely an irritation. In fact, it seems like the perfect disease; it’s easily fixed – just avoid gluten. 

Now if MS were the same, I’d be a happy woman. There is no diet that is proven to alter the course of MS, at this time. Some people favour the Swank diet, Paleo, Vegan, or “Best Bet” but with no definitive proof of any specific diet helping people with MS, I’m going to keep enjoying my food as it is. Food is such a pleasure! If we follow general dietary principles for good health, it will help us live well with MS. 

Perhaps my Nana was right when she said “a little bit of what you like, does you good” but in my case, not gluten. 

Coeliac Society of Ireland: signs and symptoms

Diet and MS, Pavan Bhargava MD, National Multiple Sclerosis Society (US)

Author: Helen Farrell

Comments

Joan

Thursday July 05 2018 13:50

You hit home here Helen! Because there is no 'fix' for MS- people don't get how hard it is to live with. Really enjoyed your take on this.

Keith

Monday July 09 2018 08:27

Great read Helen, I've MS and my wife is coeliac so both are a constant in our lives. We've both adapted our diets (where possible) to suit each other :)

Helen

Saturday July 14 2018 21:30

Thanks Joan. X

Thanks Keith :-)

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published and will only be used by MS Ireland to contact you should there be an issue with your comment.

Please read our policy on making comments. Basically, respect other people’s view, use appropriate language and be nice! Comments are published between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

We ask this question to ensure that you are a real person, and not a computer adding information automatically.

By commenting, you are adhering to our Terms of use / Privacy

Latest News

More news

What's hot

Small_camera-photographer-yellow-photography

Enter our 2019 Calendar Competition!

Calling all budding photographers! Enter our competition to see YOUR photo in our new calendar!

Find out more

Events Calendar

» Our next Event

17 July 2018: Physiotherapist designed and led exercise programme for people with MS.

View all events

eNEWS SIGNUP

If you'd like to receive e-news updates from The Society please enter your email address below. If you want to know more about how we manage personal data then please see our privacy policy.

My local MSI

Map of MS Ireland's service areas South Mid West West Midlands South East North East North West North Dublin City and Fingal South West Dublin and Kildare South East Dublin and Wicklow