Wahls Holiday in the Milk Mecca

lifestyle, personal

A 17 hour drive is all that separates me from holidays spent in the company of my family and friends in America’s Dairyland. The warmth of being with family, and in the place I still call home, will feel familiar this year, but the menu will undoubtedly look different.

Last March I was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. After a disorienting bout with optic neuritis, three days on IV steroids, and an epic panic attack / steroid crash in front of a room full of my first year college students, extensive blood-work, and a few MRI’s, I arrived at MS central, feeling pretty shook.

For a while, I marinated in the grief of it all, and got really bogged down with the decidedly risky treatment options I would need to sustain FOR.EV.ER. My neurologist and I decided to take the summer to closely monitor the progression of the disease before settling on a treatment option. In that time, I did my second round of Whole 30, and started reading about Terry Wahls. Summer came to a close, and new lesions had developed in my brain — so foregoing a medical intervention wasn’t a smart option.

Fast forward to the present, where I’ve begun the arduous process of implementing both a medical + dietary intervention to my MS. Because it is my hope that someday I can manage my MS solely with dietary intervention, I’ve been in a serious relationship with the Wahls Protocol since July. My consistent daily eats are Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Legume-Free, and Soy-Free.

Q: Without all those things, what’s even left?

A: A shitload.

I strive to eat 9, niner, NINE, cups of deeply-colored, sulfur-rich, and nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables EVERY day + plus good quality protein, and occasionally, when I muster up the gullivers to do so: organ meat.

The bottom line for me with Wahls is this: it’s the only dietary (meaning I don’t have to pop pills to wake up in the mornin) intervention clinically demonstrated to fight MS fatigue. For that reason alone (not including all the other dope benefits, like being able to poop regularly) I will fight to keep this way of feeding myself and my body up.

Last year the holiday season in Wisconsin meant turkey slathered in butter, gravy made with white flour and cornstarch, potatoes mashed with butter, heavy cream, sour cream, and buttermilk ranch, pies upon pies made with white granulated sugar, Philadelphia-filled cheesecakes, homemade whipped cream, and beyond fluffy, buttery dinner rolls, sliced and filled with (you guessed it) more butter. I’m not saying my family could kill Paula Deane with our cooking, but maybe a strong and enduring coma.

I don’t disclose the contents of our (and most Midwestern) ((and most American)) family’s turkey day buffet to evoke shame or make you feel bashful about butter. (Girl don’t be bashful, girl back it up.) I salivate fondly over these days and foodspired memories, but recognize in a deep + profound way that I cannot afford to eat this way anymore. With MS doing its best to ravage my body + brain, I’ve gotta fill up my life bank with as much good food monies as I can. Jah feel?

So this holiday season, you’re welcome to join me as I bake my way through my old holiday haunts in a GFDFEF (errything free) kinda way, stumbling and spilling, but hopefully bringing smiles and fulfilled tummies to my family.

TBH I believe everyBODY can benefit from learning to eat this way, but I won’t force it on you. Unless you’re my family– in which case– welcome to dinner, the butter is dead. Well, to clarify, the butter has been clarified… it’s called Ghee now and is free of the dairy things that made my sinuses (see also: my whole body) inflamed for decades and led me to antibiotics every.single.winter.

Thanks for being a Wahls Newb with me. Stay tuned for recipes, insights on my love affair with probiotics + good poops, how I borrow from AIP principles, and MORE.

No matter how you eat your turkey, lets all give MS the bird this year. | Sarah Jean

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