A Beginner’s Guide to Adopting a Healthy Lifestyle with MS

June 15, 2023
Healthy Lifestyle for MS

You’ve got diagnosed with MS. AHHHHHH. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to have ALL the emotions you have (anger, sadness, shock, stress…whatever it is) and for how long you need to. Well don’t wait too long because there are some stuff that you’ll want to do.

You have probably seen a neurologist (as s/he diagnosed you) and maybe already a second time regarding if and what medication to take. But that is not everything, you have heard that there is lifestyle changes that you can implement. And you have questions about what they are and how to start. So let’s talk about these:

1. Diet and Nutrition:

  • Adopt a Balanced Diet: You want to eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains that can provide the nutrients your body needs to function optimally.
  • Consider Specific Dietary Approaches: Some people with MS find that certain diets, such as the Overcoming MS (OMS) diet, the Swank diet, the Wahls Protocol, the Best Bet Diet or a Mediterranean-style diet, can help manage their symptoms. Check them out and pick the one that you feel you can and want to do and has convincing research.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking enough fluids is essential for overall health and can also help you manage certain MS symptoms like fatigue and bladder problems (hopefully if you are newly diagnosed these symptoms are not an issue for you but drinking an adequate amount of fluids is still healthy for anyone with or without MS)

2. Physical Activity:

  • Start with Gentle Exercise: Gentle exercises like walking, yoga, swimming, or cycling can be a great starting point. These can improve cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility without overtaxing your body.
  • Progress Slowly: Gradually increase the intensity, frequency, and duration of your exercise as your fitness improves. This helps your body adapt and reduces the risk of injury or excessive fatigue.
  • Incorporate Strength Training and Flexibility Exercises: These can help improve muscle strength, balance, and coordination, which are often affected in MS.
    • Start small. I’ve had successes with two or three minute workouts through the day and gradually moved to 1 hour a week with the goal to get to 1.5 hours on top of my walking, yoga and swimming in the summer.
      • Consider Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can provide an exercise program tailored to your abilities and needs. Don’t be shy to reach out. Maybe the MS society where you live even provides resources.

3. Stress Management:

  • Practice Mindfulness and Meditation: These techniques can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can exacerbate MS symptoms.
    • Find what works best for you. There is so much help these days aka apps. I love Headspace. If apps are not your thing, then maybe you can find a meditation class you can join (or maybe an online class). Meditation is just one part of mindfulness. Find ways to be mindful throughout your day such as conscious walking or eating.
  • Develop a Regular Sleep Routine: Good sleep hygiene can help improve sleep quality, which in turn can help manage fatigue and other symptoms.
  • Consider Therapy or Counseling: Speaking with a therapist or counselor can provide emotional support and help you develop effective coping strategies.

4. Social and Emotional Health:

  • Stay Socially Active: Maintaining connections with family and friends can provide emotional support and improve overall wellbeing.
  • Join a Support Group: Connecting with others who are also living with MS can provide unique understanding, shared experiences, and practical advice.
    • Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis (OMS) for example has circles all over that you can join. Some meet in person and/or online. There is also a global one that only meets only online for people who do not have a circle close by.
  • Seek Help When Needed: Don’t hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals if you’re struggling with your mental health. Therapies and medications can provide significant help.

5. Regular Medical Checkups:

  • Stay in Touch with Your Healthcare Team: Regular appointments allow your team to monitor your health and adjust your treatment plan as necessary.
  • Manage Medications: Make sure you understand your medications and take them as directed. Report any side effects to your doctor.
  • Stay Up-to-Date with Vaccines: This can help protect you from preventable illnesses that could potentially worsen your MS symptoms.


There is quite a bit to take in. Take it slow, but remember you can influence (I don’t mean cure or heal) your MS but you can take an active part other than medication. And that feels good! It sometimes can be overwhelming to know what to do and where to start. However having someone in your corner that roots for you, can help making these implementations easier. As a board certified health coach and having MS myself, I have the training to guide you and made the mistakes I would hate for you to make. So why wait? Let’s start working together towards your health goals.

Ingrid Adelsberger