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Eating Right in the Summer with MS

By Matt Cavallo

There are a lot of articles about MS and summertime because people living with MS are affected by the summer heat. One of the things you can do to combat the summer heat is to eat for the season. Carbohydrates and sugars contribute to fatigue. If you add in the summer heat, it may feel like you are having a pseudo-exacerbation after every meal. However, if you eat right for summer, you may find yourself feeling better and having more energy.

For those of you who read my column, you know that I have been working on losing weight. I started off trying intermittent fasting. That meant that I would only eat between the hours of 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. That was going great and I got on a food schedule, so I became accustomed to eating during those times. I saw some okay weight loss of five pounds in the first couple of weeks and increased energy, however, I was struggling a bit with portion control.

Then, my wife and I decided to a detox cleanse. It was a plant-based cleanse where I had smoothies in the morning and evening and a salad in the afternoon for five days straight. It was tough to get through those five days, but I am down an additional fourteen pounds, so nineteen pounds in total since I started this. 

Losing weight hasn’t been easy. I’m in my mid-forties now, and when I just look at a piece of bread I put on two pounds. I’m also not that heavy. I’m only about twenty pounds overweight and feel with my diet choices and exercise I should lose weight quicker than I am. The kids also don’t help because they don’t want to eat any of the healthy stuff that my wife and I want to eat to maintain our diet discipline. However, the summer offers an opportunity to change eating habits and lose weight by taking advantage of what the season has to offer. Here are some tips of what to eat during summer that will help you feel cool even when the weather is not. 

1. Stock up on fruits and veggies. Right now, your local grocery store has a surplus of fruits and veggies on sale. Stone fruits are in season, so stock up on peaches, nectarines, apricots or cherries. Also, cucumbers, tomatoes and avocados are also in season. Try to replace pastas, breads and starches with a healthy salad. You’ll feel less sluggish by cutting these calories out of your diet.

2. Cook and eat outside. Grilling is a great way to get outside and get some fresh air while cooking lean protein. I would also stay away from the burgers, dogs, and anything else you would put on a bun. Try a piece of fish like tuna, halibut, or swordfish. They are great on the grill and loaded with heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acid. 

3. Look for healthy frozen dessert options. While a hot fudge sundae may sound delicious, there are many frozen treats that are fruit-based without all those extra calories and dairy. Fruit sorbet or all-natural fruit popsicles have real ingredients and less sugar. Not only that, but having a popsicle on a hot day cool your core which helps you combat the heat.

4. Water fills you up. Most times you are not hungry, you are thirsty. Drinking the right amount of water will help you lose weight because it helps curb hunger pains. By the way, those hunger pains are often our body telling us we need water and not food. The more water you drink the better you feel, even though for most of us, myself included, I had to learn how to drink water. I would much rather have a sugary or caffeinated beverage but I know that they will not help hydrate me.

5. Eat cooling foods. Believe it or not, but foods can help keep you cool in the summer. Water-rich fruits and vegetables, like watermelon and celery, help flush toxins from your body. Astringents like bananas, grapes and lentils have tannins which help your body retain water. All these foods help you stay cool, are low calorie and are good for you.