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An Introduction to the Swank Diet and the McDougall Diet

By Daryl H. Bryant (504 words)
Posted in Living with MS on September 30, 2014

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An Introduction to the Swank Diet and the McDougall Diet

Although it’s unfortunately not a cure for MS, maintaining your overall health with a nutritious, well-balanced diet is a necessary component in managing your MS symptoms. A couple of diets have gained popularity in the MS community as being helpful in managing MS. Here are two popular diets you can try out to see whether they’ll help you.   

The Swank Diet

“After considerable research, I developed a plan for the treatment of multiple sclerosis that absolutely anyone can do. A lifestyle change will have to take place, which may be a challenge for you, but the challenges of living with a disability are much greater.”- Dr. Roy L. Swank, M.D., Ph.D.

After 50 years of research and working with about 5,000 people, the Swank Diet was created to not only help slow the progression of MS but also to improve overall health. However, the Swank MS Foundation suggests that in order to receive the most benefit from the diet, you need to adopt it as soon as possible after your MS diagnosis.

The diet is neither vegan nor vegetarian, so you have some flexibility in your meal choices. It calls for foods high in grains, fruits, and vegetables and low in saturated fats and polyunsaturated oils. You can eat low-fat dairy products, as well as lean protein like chicken and white fish. However, Dr. Swank advises that meat with high amounts of saturated fats can be consumed in very small quantities.

What foods can you eat on a Swank Diet?

  • Non- or low-fat dairy products with no more than 1 gram of saturated fat per serving (non-fat/skim milk, powdered skim milk, fat-free cheese, etc.)
  • Eggs (3 eggs per week)
  • Whole grains
  • Cold and hot cereals
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Most condiments


What foods should I avoid on a Swank Diet?

  • Margarine or butter
  • Cocoa butter
  • Boxed or canned food containing processed oil
  • Pastries

 For a full list of foods to eat or avoid on a Swank Diet, click here.

 The McDougall Diet

"The McDougall Diet is similar to the Swank Diet in that it focuses on reducing intake of saturated fats as well. However, the McDougall Diet is a variation on a vegan diet that eliminates any sources of animal fats and many other forms of fats as well."– Dr. John McDougall

Dr. Swank was actually Dr. McDougall’s mentor, and they have worked together in the past to analyze the effects of diet on multiple sclerosis. The McDougall Program is a bit stricter when it comes to foods you shouldn’t eat. Unlike the Swank Diet, the McDougall Diet does not allow people to eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or any dietary products, as McDougall believes that dairy proteins are the leading cause of autoimmune diseases like MS.

The McDougall Program offers a free download of recipes on their website.  

Before you try any new diet, be sure to do extensive research beforehand and consult your doctor first, as some foods may affect your body differently than another person’s. However, with the right health regimen, you may be able to reduce your symptoms and flare-ups with an MS-friendly diet

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