Take Control of Your Weight - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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Take Control of Your Weight

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In this article

Overview

MS fatigue, steroid therapy, and depression can all lead to unwanted weight in people with MS. Though these factors are not your fault, you owe it to yourself to take control of your weight.

Overeating can increase MS symptoms or health conditions, such as:
  • fatigue
  • pressure sores
  • negative self-image
  • stress on joints
  • demand on heart and lungs
  • risk of other illnesses

Set realistic goals

Many people give up before they start because their weight-loss goal seems overwhelming. Most of the time they’re right! A realistic goal may work wonders for motivation — and for health.

Try setting a goal of 10 percent of your body weight. This means if you weigh 200 pounds, you need to lose just 20 of them to reap health benefits.

Keeping the weight off

Here are some ways to lose weight — and keep it off:
  • Don’t diet! Most diets don’t work over the long haul. Instead, alter your relationship with food (e.g., portion control).
  • Change one meal at a time. Focus on eating a healthy breakfast, such as rolled oats, fresh fruit or an egg-white omelet. Once you’ve mastered one meal, go on to the next. At lunchtime, instead of potato chips with your sandwich, opt for baby carrots. Then at dinner, stop at one helping of mashed potatoes rather than two.
  • Snack. Healthy snacking helps to control your appetite so you don’t eat too much at regular meals. Snacking also keeps your metabolism working steadily, which makes your body burn calories efficiently. Stock up on pre-cut veggies, low-fat yogurt, raw cashews, peanut butter, string cheese, whole-grain crackers, oranges, grapes and other healthy goodies.
  • Focus on your food. Eliminate distractions while you eat, such as reading or watching TV. Eat when you’re sitting at a table. Pay attention to taste and savor every bite.
  • Follow your cravings. Cravings take over when you feel unsatisfied. That in turn leads to binge eating. Work your cravings into your eating plan. If chocolate cream pie is your family’s favorite dessert, plan on having a modest helping on a special day.
  • Get support. It’s always easier to change when you have the support of others who are going through similar challenges. You might want to check out Weight Watchers. If the cost of joining the program is an obstacle, try the free message boards.
  • Don’t forget to get a move on. Start exercising just five minutes a day. If going to the gym is too difficult, put on your favorite lively music at home and move around. Add some stretching and simple exercises prescribed for you by your healthcare professional. The key is consistency; do a little bit each day.
  • Give yourself a specific incentive. Look at your calendar and see what events are coming up. Weddings, reunions, birthdays, vacations — all provide incentives for wanting to look good. And when that occasion passes? Look for the next one.

Reinventing the pyramid

The current nutrition guide published by the USDA, MyPlate, replaces the food pyramid. MyPlate depicts a place setting with a plate and glass divided into five food groups. The MyPlate website offers interactive sections about food choices, preparation and safety, plus a physical activity assessment tool, and worksheets for planning meals.

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