Grocery delivery services can be a huge help for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), an inflammatory autoimmune condition that affects nearly one million people in the United States. MS causes the body’s immune system to attack the nerve fibers in the central nervous system (CNS), including the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The resulting damage can interfere with communication in the brain or between the brain and different body systems.
Some of the most common limitations in multiple sclerosis are gait problems, spasticity, and other mobility issues, all of which can make getting to or navigating traditional grocery stores difficult or impossible.
However, symptoms such as MS and weight gain underscore the need for healthful nutrition as a holistic part of treating and managing MS, so skipping the shopping is not a viable option for many people with MS. Thankfully, grocery delivery services are available. Eliminating the need to go to a grocery store and push around and load a cart can benefit those with multiple sclerosis. Online shopping is a valuable resource, both in terms of access to groceries and the ease of maintaining a healthful, balanced diet.
Importance of a Healthy Diet When Living With Multiple Sclerosis
Bodies need a balanced range of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to function optimally, especially when living with a chronic inflammatory condition like MS.
Weight gain is a common struggle for people with MS. Symptoms like mobility issues and fatigue, treatments like steroid therapy, and mental health problems like depression can all lead to weight gain. Still, a healthful diet can help mitigate the effects and slow disease progression, reduce risk of disability, and decrease the frequency of flares.
People with MS are at a greater risk than the general population of developing cardiovascular disease. Being overweight increases the risk of developing heart disease — including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes — even more. The presence of cardiovascular risk factors are associated with higher levels of MS-related disability and disease activity.
Polyunsaturated fats that contain omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower cholesterol and, with it, the risk of cardiovascular disease. Evidence suggests that these “good” fats can be especially helpful for people with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).
Vitamin B/Vitamin H
A form of vitamin B called biotin, or vitamin H, plays an important role in activating some myelin production enzymes usually obtained from foods like egg yolks, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Low vitamin D levels are a likely risk factor for developing MS and may also be associated with higher MS activity.
Tips to Make the Most of Grocery Delivery When You Have MS
The grocery delivery option can save you a lot of time, energy, trouble, and frustration. Here are some tips to make online grocery shopping work wonderfully for you.
- Make a Plan
Meal planning is a smart idea when what you eat is a matter of health. Think ahead about what you want to eat for the week and write your grocery list down. With a plan, ordering your shopping will be way easier, and you can avoid going off-script.
- Skip “Aisles” You Don’t Need
Shopping online means you can use search functions to find and order what you need and to avoid what you don’t. Unlike at brick-and-mortar grocery stores, where a stroll past a certain section may mean that impulse buys end up in your cart, online stores keep unwanted items (such as processed foods, sodas, and alcohol) out of sight for a more healthful cart and a more straightforward shopping experience.
- Eat Before Shopping
You might want to eat a snack before ordering your groceries online. If you’re hungry, you’re more likely to make impulse buys rather than sticking to your grocery list.
- Taste the Rainbow
Ordering online may give you access to more or different fresh produce. As a rule, colorful fruits and vegetables (think leafy greens, carrots, berries, plums, etc.) are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Try to eat as colorfully as possible every day to help ensure you have a diverse and delicious nutrient-rich diet.
- Double Check Your Ingredients
Cooking your meals or eating home-cooked meals is generally healthier for you than ready-made or frozen meals and restaurant or delivery meals, which tend to have more sodium, sugar, fat, and processed ingredients. You can control and avoid less MS-healthy foods when you’re ordering your fresh ingredients for delivery. Read the online food labels to get a sense of what ingredients are actually in each purchase. You might be surprised to find many hidden sugars, high sodium counts, or extra polyunsaturated fats.
- Come Back Later
Multiple sclerosis can also cause cognitive dysfunction such as memory loss and concentration problems. If concentration becomes a difficulty while you’re shopping online, save your cart and come back to it when you’re feeling less mentally fatigued. Shopping from the comfort of your home means you have the flexibility to accommodate your MS if any symptoms arise, without any disruption to your order.