I stumbled on a highly effective hunger-free weight loss program 15 years ago. It was 1998 and I was twenty-two years old when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). At the time I was diagnosed my neurologist at the University of Miami suggested a change in diet and lifestyle could make me feel better and help slow the progression of my disease. I quickly learned that MS was a disease made worse by inflammation and that I would need to do absolutely everything I could from a lifestyle standpoint to reduce inflammation, which primarily meant changing my diet. I was a fitness instructor at the time and I had always been slim, so the whole concept of “dieting” was foreign to me.
My husband, Andy Larson, M.D., is a surgeon now, but at the time I was diagnosed he was in medical school and I asked for his help in researching the best anti-inflammatory diet to follow. Even though Andy was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, which is consistently ranked one of the best medical schools in the country, nutrition is not something that was emphasized in medical school, so he pretty much had as much learning to do as I did.
The more we learned together about anti-inflammatory nutrition and disease the more we realized that the common link between MS and many seemingly unrelated diseases (asthma, allergies, heart disease, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, arthritis, etc.) was inflammation. Andy decided to start the anti-inflammatory “MS diet” with me because he figured it was a healthy diet to follow even if you don’t have MS or any other inflammatory condition. Although he was not overweight when he started, Andy promptly lost 15 pounds without even trying (he was not restricting portion sizes or trying to count calories, etc.) and reduced his borderline high blood pressure down to a normal healthy level. That was sort of an “ah ha” moment for both of us. (more…)