A sensible, healthy diet is recommended with a low content of saturated fats ie. animal fats, along with an increased amount of polyunsaturated fats and oils. The use of fresh rather than processed foods is encouraged, as is a reduction in the amount of sugar and salt used. It is felt that the single most important rule is to change the type and amount of fat in the diet (information supplied by the Multiple Sclerosis Research Centre).
Tip: Making a simple plan will help you to monitor your diet.
Week 1: change to polyunsaturated margarines and skimmed milk.
Week 2: start to increase fish meals.
Week 3: start to include one liver meal.
Detailed Information on Food Types
Fats and Oils
- Polyunsaturated margarines, fats and oils, for example Sunflower or Soya spread and Sunflower, Corn, Safflower and Soya oils are alright in moderation.
- French dressing made with a suitable oil is OK as is polyunsaturated salad dressing.
- Monosaturates should only be eaten occasionally, such as Olive Oil or monosaturated spreads.
- Try not to use the oil for frying more than once as prolonged heat may convert more of the oil to a ‘saturated’ state.
- Try to avoid frequent fried foods, blended cooking oils, butter, lard, hydrogenated vegetable oil, suet, dripping, low fat spreads, mayonnaise or salad dressings made with saturated fats (check the label).
- Try to eat oily fish such as mackerel, herrings, kippers, sardines, whitebait, trout or salmon at least three times a week.
- White fish, tuna and shellfish are also advisable.
- Try to avoid fried fish (shallow fried in suitable oil may be eaten occasionally), fish in batter, cream sauce or butter and fish tinned in unspecified oil.
Meat and Meat Alternatives
- Lean red meat, poultry, game and offal can be eaten.
- Try to include 0.25lb of liver per week. If you really dislike liver, have 2 to 3 servings of lean meat.
- Quorn, soya and tofu can be eaten as an alternative to meat along with any pulses e.g. peas, beans, lentils, baked beans, soup made with pulses.
- Avoid fatty meat and processed meats such as sausages, burgers, corned beef, luncheon meat, meat pies or pasties and poultry skin. (Remove poultry skin or meat fat before cooking).
Fruit and Vegetables
- Aim for 5 portions a day (1lb / 500g).
- Fresh fruit, vegetables (fresh or frozen) – particularly salad/raw vegetables and green leafy vegetables.
- Potatoes – jacket, boiled or mashed and, occasionally, roasted or home made chips cooked in suitable oil (use oil a maximum of three times).
- Oven chips in Sunflower oil, up to once a week.
- Avoid chips (except as described) and fried vegetables. (A stir fry with suitable oil is OK).
Dairy products and Low Fat Dairy Products
- Skimmed milk preferably, or semi-skimmed. Low fat yoghurt / fromage frais, cottage cheese.
- Cheese made with polyunsaturated fat (such as “Flora”) in moderation. Eggs (up to 3 or 4 a week). ‘Healthy Eating’ Ice Creams and Sorbets.
- Hard cheese (preferably half fat) no more than 0.25lb / 100g a week.
- Avoid ‘Gold Top’ and full cream (‘silver top’) milk, greek yoghurt, thick and creamy yoghurt and whole milk bio yoghurts.
- Avoid excess hard cheese, including vegetarian. ‘Ordinary’ ice cream and cream.
- Try to eat bread, preferably wholemeal, breakfast cereals, preferably wholegrain, such as Weetabix, Branflakes, Porridge and Muesli.
- Pasta and Rice. Wholemeal and wholegrain products contain more fibre, vitamins and minerals.
- Homemade cakes, biscuits and pastries made with polyunsaturated fat and (ideally) half wholemeal flour.
- Bread sticks, water biscuits, crispbreads, tea cakes, crumpets.
- Shop-bought plain biscuits and muesli bars, in moderation.
- Avoid muesli with coconut, croissants with added vegetable fat , bought cakes and biscuits, slimming biscuits or bars.
Nuts and Seeds
- Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, chestnuts, almonds and walnuts.
- Brazils, coconut, cashews, peanuts, peanut butter should be avoided.
- Sugary foods should be used in moderation unless extra calories are needed for weight gain. (It does not provide any other nutrients, so should not replace other foods).
- Avoid eating too many sweet, sugary foods.
- Decaffeinated teas and coffees, herbal teas, soft drinks, water and ‘low fat’ bedtime drinks.
- Make sure that you drink 8 mugs (9 to 12 cups) of fluid a day.
- Keep chocolate, including carob chocolate, to an absolute minimum.
- Avoid excess tea, coffee or cocoa (that is more than 4 cups containing caffeine a day), full fat bedtime drinks such as drinking chocolate.
- Aim to have no more than 1 to 2 units daily, with 2 or 3 alcohol free days each week.
- A unit is equivalent to 1/2pint of beer or a glass of wine.
- Soup (not ‘cream of’), low fat crisps, or those cooked in Sunflower oil, once or twice a week.
- Sugary sweets which are low fat, eg boiled sweets, pastilles, peppermints, jelly sweets are all allowed.
- It is advisable to keep chocolate, including carob chocolate, to an absolute minimum.
- ‘Cream of’ soups, crisps and similar savoury snacks, high fat sweets e.g. toffee, fudge should be avoided.
Healthy eating is designed to contain all vitamins, minerals and EFAs you need if followed closely. Supplements can prove expensive. High doses can sometimes prove dangerous. Evening Primrose Oil may be taken if desired, but is generally unnecessary because the EFA content is small. Adequate linoleum acid is provided by the polyunsaturated oils in your diet. Cod Liver Oil is a valuable source of EFAs but has a high vitamin A content. It should be avoided if you are eating the recommended 1/4lb of liver a week or taking other supplements which contain vitamin A.
Fish oils supplements not containing vitamin A, such as Maxepa, Pulse or Omega 3 fish oils may be taken if you cannot eat oily fish. GoldenLinseeds are rich in EFAs and high in fibre and can be a useful addition to the diet, particularly if you suffer with constipation.
Vitamin supplements and single nutrient supplements are best avoided unless you definitely have a deficiency or are advised by your GP or dietitian. Multivitamins may be considered if you are unable to eat a well balanced/varied diet. If you wish to take a multivitamin, choose one which provides the recommended daily amount (RDA) for a wide range of nutrients. Do not take multivitamins containing vitamin A if you are eating liver regularly. Your dietitian will advise as to which supplements are suitable for you. Remember no amount of supplements can undo the harm done by an unhealthy diet!