Naturopathic Nutrition

Fibromyalgia and Nutrition 2018 – Week 1

Good evening!

I can’t quite believe a week has passed since my last blog post and we are already 8 days into 2018! Crazy!

2018 has gotten off to a good start. My New Year Fibromyalgia flare up has settled and I’m now back to normal levels of symptoms, my nutrition plan is back on track and I’m feeling good. Hoping to hold on to the new year feeling for as long as possible!

The major change for me since new year has been the exclusion of meat from my diet. I’ve been considering it for quite some time now, and I’ve started off with just aiming to get through January, but I’m feeling so good I may just keep it out altogether (mostly). I’m not vegan (although I have had more vegan days than not and strongly considering it) as I’m still eating eggs, fish and honey, but they are the only animal products I am now eating.

So why the change? Well, I just wanted to see how it would make me feel, as I know from monitoring my fibromyalgia symptoms that I generally feel better on meat free days. My digestion is usually better and my energy levels higher, and these two areas can be particularly bothersome to me.

On top of that I’m beginning to have some real issues with the animal industry, and the way animals are treated for our own cheap personal gain. But that’s a story for another day and forum.

I imagined it would be difficult to cut out meat, as I’m not a massive carb eater and so wondered where on earth I would get my energy from, but honestly it hasn’t been all that hard. I’ve explored new recipes, gotten my zest back for cooking, and actually vegan and meat free recipes are quick and cheap to cook. So lots of wins!

I’ve found my favourite free from cookbooks as well as Vegan Life magazine particularly helpful in meal planning, and have enjoyed the variety of vegetables I am getting in every day, far exceeding my 5 a day for sure! I’ll try and reference back any recipes I’ve used below!

The only downside…. I’m hungry πŸ˜‚ but let’s face it, we could all do with being a little hungry after the festive season, and it does make me enjoy my food much much more!

Anyway, without further ado, here’s this weeks highlights! Details at the bottom of the post!

Poached egg with avocado on gluten free toast

Top to bottom

And that’s it!

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to talk about how adapting your diet to managing your fibromyalgia symptoms can help you! I can be found over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Toodle pip!

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Inspiration

Hello 2018!

I’m back, slightly broken but back…..!

I’m looking forward to sharing this next year with you and building on the journey that I started what feels like a very long time ago but is actually only 1 year.

I thought I would start the year by reflecting on where I was last January to where I am today, looking back on the journey of 2017 and sharing with you my hopes for 2018.

Last January I was also broken, but very much more broken than I am today. Today is just a set back, just the Fibromyalgia biting me in the ass and reminding me of its presence. Last January, I hadn’t been diagnosed. I wasn’t sleeping. I was in a tremendous amount of pain. And I was desperate. Desperate for an answer……. a solution.

Towards the end of January I was finally given an answer, but sadly not a solution. At least not a quick solution. Over 2017 I discovered that there is no perfect way to treat Fibromyalgia, but rather many different ways of managing symptoms, that enabled me to get on with and love my new life.

The biggest change I made was to my diet. I cut out dairy and gluten, artificial colourants and sweeteners, and to a large extent, refined sugars. I added in feel good and anti inflammatory foods and never looked back. Yes I’ve slipped on occasion, but not to a point where I’ve completed given it up and gone back to a ‘conventional diet’. Over the next year I am working on eating less meat and eating more veg (if thats possible) and aligning myself more to a vegetarian, dairy free diet. This is beginning with January where I will not be eating any meat, but will be eating fish and eggs.

While this is a new change, and it has come with the new year, it isn’t a resolution as such. More a way of eating to make me feel good. I know that eating a more vegetarian diet definitely helps my symptoms, and so why not do what makes you feel good?! I’m not doing it to lose weight, or get a ‘summer body’, in fact I have stayed away from the scales this new year for fear of disappointment when I see the dreaded number appear on the little digital display. My only goal for 2018 is to feel good, building on the foundations I built during 2017. If my body feels good, and my clothes fit nice, then who cares what the little number on the scales say…. and weighing right after Christmas is a sure fire way to feel guilty about all the delicious homemade treats!

2017 also welcomed mindfulness and to a lesser extent CBT, into my life. what a welcome discovery that was! For anyone who is scared of CBT, please don’t be. CBT is not recommended because the Fibromyalgia is ‘all in your head’, but rather because with the right mind set you can thrive with Fibro. I’ve not had clinical depression or anxiety, yet find the symptoms of Fibromyalgia overwhelming at times, which will inevitably lower mood. CBT helped my to see past my physical symptoms, and how to plan my life and days around my condition, not giving in to it, but working with it and around it. By having CBT I most definitely no longer feel bad about my fibromyalgia (in a way that I don’t feel guilty or embarrassed by it), I don’t let it devour my thoughts, and I certainly do not let it rule my life. It is part of me and who I am, I can either live with it to the best of my ability, or be miserable. I chose the first of those two options. I cannot urge enough, if you have not yet had CBT for a pain condition, please see your doctor and ask about it.

Sleep hygiene came hand in hand with mindfulness for me, and probably had the biggest impact on my sleep. I won’t go on too much about it in this post as last year I wrote a whole series about sleep hygiene (I recommend you start with this post), but it is an area I thoroughly enjoyed exploring and making changes too. Thanks to changing my sleep routine I am reading so much more, devouring books in fact, and it is a new found hobby that I didn’t realise I loved quite so much, plus I’m learning a great deal about many different things. Give it a go!

2017 also saw the use of acupuncture, massage, aromatherapy, physiotherapy, exercise, and general being kind to myself in order to regain control over my life. Blogging become a new hobby, and I thoroughly enjoyed blogging last year and can’t wait to pick up where I left off before my festive break.

So 2018 is here and where am I? Well, I still have Fibromyalgia. I’m still in pain and completely knackered most days. I still love cake and struggle keeping sugar out of my diet. Some nights I don’t sleep. Winter is still a massive problem and the short, cold days are my true nemesis. My legs and back have refused to co-operate for 5 days straight. BUT, I went for a job interview and got a new job (with a team that inspire me so much). I’m working full time and since being back to work in April I’ve only needed just over a week altogether off sick which for a woman with a chronic illness I am pretty darn pleased about (I know it isn’t perfect). Unsurprisingly, these days have mostly been throughout the winter months (hurry up spring). I can cook way better than I could a year ago and have a much wider range of tastes, eating food I never thought I would. I’m far more content. I am reading a whole new genre of books I never thought I would read. I’m knitting again. Oh, and most days I am medication free with the odd paracetamol and anti histamine. So all in all I would say I’m in a damn good place.

Happy New Year, I can’t wait to share my journey and the best things in life with you in 2018.

As ever you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram, Or simply give me a follow on this blog.

Toodle pip!

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Lifestyle

See you in 2018

Dear all,

Apologies for my major lack of posting on here for some weeks now. However it is with good reason….!

With a lot of hard work and determination I have recently been successful in a new job which now see me working hard to establish myself in that role. Which is leaving very little time for blogging at the moment.

However, I am really keen not to let the blog fall completely off my agenda as I so enjoy writing and sharing my fibro experiences with you all.

So for now, what with the new job, working out what the hell I’m doing, and the festive season I’ve decided to press the pause button for now, and restart in January when I should have a little more time and energy!

So I guess this is a ‘see you soon’ but definitely not goodbye and I look forward to sharing my second year with fibro with you all.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who has supported me in this last year, you are all amazing and I definitely couldn’t have done it without you!

Big hugs and love to you all!

Sarah xxxx

Fibromyalgia and Me

Fibromyalgia and Me – Exercise

How have you found exercise since having fibromyalgia?

For me, in all honesty, it was initially terrible, but equally it could have been much MUCH worse. I think it all depends on where you have come from, what exercise you did before, and how much you compare your current self to your new self.

My fibromyalgia onset was pretty quick, in fact, just a few months before becoming too unwell to work I had just completed my 6th running race in 6 months. I was taking part in a personal challenge to complete 12 races in 12 months for charity, in memory of my younger brother who passed away from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and would have been 24 last year. It still pains me to this day that I was never able to complete the challenge, but in the first 6 months of 2016 I ran two 10K races, one 10 mile race, two half marathons, and one full marathon.

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From June onwards it all went a bit/very downhill, I severely injured my achilles tendon which took AAAAAAAAAGGGGGGEEEESSSS to heal, and then I rapidly developed symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Come November I was off work sick barely able to move. You can visit this post for more about my journey towards diagnosis.

It took me a long while to pluck up the courage to exercise again, and a lot of input from my physiotherapist. At first I was incredibly frustrated, and even attempted to go for a run one day (which didn’t end well), but over time I learnt to forgive my broken body and to just let it recover somewhat. I also needed to give myself time to work out exactly what it was I needed to do just to be able to get through my day and function like a normal human being which took me about 4 months (and damn lot of hard work) following diagnosis. Returning to work was also far more important than gaining medals.

One thing I made sure I always did when trying to work all of this out, was to just keep moving. However slowly I moved, I always moved forwards. Initially it was just doing the school runs, then it progressed to the after school clubs. I then moved onto more gentle exercises, mostly stretching and physiotherapy, which felt wonderful for my broken body. Eventually when my symptoms were a little more ‘controlled’ I started going out for longer walks, and before long I was able to go out and walk a good 4 miles. I’d be wrecked that evening and possibly the next day but I did it and that sense of achievement wasΒ almost as satisfying as crossing the finishing line of a race (although what a feeling that is!).

Another (and possibly more important) factor is learning not to compare. At diagnosis I was constantly yearning for that woman who could just go out and run 10 miles and actually feel good afterwards. I missed the way my body used to feel and the way my clothes fit. I missed the glory of picking up a medals after months of training and doing it all in memory of my brother, raising worthwhile money for charity.

Today, I no longer compare. I no longer yearn. I do however still remain optimistic that I WILL run again, but only when I am ready, and only what I can manage.

What I am now able to do is get on with my day and cover most distance by foot. I cover a distance of at least 6 miles evenly across my day and it actually makes me feel better. In fact if I don’t cover this distance my evenings are absolutely terrible. I feel proud that despite what is technically a disability, I am active and I am doing all I can to benefit all aspects of my long term health.

This doesn’t mean I am now going to sit back and be 100% content with this equilibrium. For those who know me, they will know that running is in my blood and I’m not sure that I will ever be fully content if I don’t ever run again. It a big goal, but I don’t feel it completely unrealistic. Just one year ago, doing the school run alone was hell on earth, and it now doesn’t even cross my mind that it will be difficult, most days.

So what’s next? For me I am looking to work on my strength and flexibility, so I am looking to seriously get into yoga. I’d like to spend a few months working on doing some daily yoga, at home, to increase my core stability, and my overall strength. Why? Well, as I think you have gathered by now, I really want to run again, and building up this strength and power will help with that, not to mention the stretching element will benefit my joint pain immensely.

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This is where I need your help. I am looking for a seriously good at home yoga workout. This can be on DVD or on You Tube, or wherever you know there is a really good programme for beginners. I really do not have the time or the energy to go after work, and so the mornings are key to fitting this into my routine. Recommendations are highly appreciated.

I would also really love to hear from you about what exercise works for you and your chronic illness. Are there any runners out there with fibromyalgia? If so I would really love to hear from you. Anyone recommend anything else that works well as exercise with fibromyalgia? Please do get in touch by either leaving a comment below or visiting one on my social media platforms. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Toodle Pip!

Sleep Hygiene

The Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles – Using a daylight alarm clock

I’ve been finding my fibromyalgia more difficult to manage since the seasons have changed. The switch from warm to cold, and from long days to short days is playing havoc in many ways for me. The cold triggers my pain, the less vitamin D triggers my fatigue and pain, and the dark mornings make it feel almost impossible to wake up (despite being awake for large portions of the night).

The one thing I learnt from last year is that if my sleep goes off, then everything goes off and for me it seems to all pin on how my mornings go. If I spring out of bed at a good time, full of energy, then my morning is less stressful and I carry that through to the rest of my day. I make better food choices  and I also sleep much better the next night as I don’t have as many anxieties floating around in my head, I have less pain, and I go to bed feeling content with my day.

If I keep on pressing the snooze button, and roll out of bed groggy and foggy, my mornings do not go well at all, and that horrible feeling of not having a good morning, being snappy with my kids, and not having the energy for my daily walk before work all hang around me like a bad smell. I feel tired all day, too tired to do the things that I know help my fibromyalgia. I often forget to take lunch to work and either don’t eat at all or make poor choices. I then get home, feel terrible, and don’t sleep very well because of the rubbish day I had. My pain increases keeping me awake too.

One thing that I know for a fact helps me to wake up is light. In the summer this is easy as the natural light provided by early sunrises are invigorating and natures way of waking anyone up naturally (see this post for information about sleep cycles). In the darker months there is nothing that gives off natural light so we have to find something else to help us.

Introducing…… the daylight alarm clock!


I’d been toying with buying one for so long but couldn’t bear the expense, but luckily, when talking about it with a friend from work, and it turned out she had one that she wasn’t using, so it’s now my new toy. The one she has leant me is a Philips Lumie.

I was excited but sceptical. Would it really work or would it just annoy me? There was only one way to find out and that was to try it!

I won’t bore you too much with the how it works bit, but in a nutshell you set the alarm for time you want to be awake and it starts to light up the room slowly in the 30 minutes prior to the time you have set. It starts off as a very dim red/amber light and builds up to a blue light (see this post all about the benefits of blue light), to a brightness of your choosing. You can also choose for a nice sound to be played as you wake up, such as wind, sea or birds. The aim is for the light to naturally bring you out of a sleep cycle, instead of being dragged out of deep sleep by your alarm clock, and so avoiding sleep inertia, which is basically that feeling you get when you have been rudely awoken by someone or something and you basically feel punch drunk.

So, I set it up for maximum brightness in the morning and birds. Turns out maximum brightness is a bit hardcore, even for someone who needs light to wake up, and I was waking up about 20 minutes before I wanted to (20 minutes is precious), and so over the last week I have worked out my ideal level to wake up at 6am is 3/4 of the maximum setting. The birds are nice too.

Waking up is definitely more gentle, no more alarm blaring in me ear and waking me up with a jolt, and that feels nice. I am still a bit sleepy when I wake up but I think that is because I’ve been a little naughty and not done all of my sleep hygiene as well as I could have rather than the light not working, so this week I am working on getting that right before I pass judgement.

Once I’m awake things are looking better. I generally get up, open the curtains (even though it is dark outside), make myself some lemon and ginger and just allow myself more time to wake up properly before I get on with my morning. My mornings are now back to being under control, and I’m managing to be more productive with more energy than I had a couple of weeks ago. My morning walks are back, I’m remembering my lunch, and I’m not rushing to the school gates anymore!

Is it as good as a bright summers morning? No. Is it better than waking up to an alarm clock and being dragged from deep sleep part of my sleep cycle? Most definitely! Most importantly, do I feel better when I wake up, is my fibromyalgia more controlled and am I sleeping better? Yes, yes, and yes!

Nothing is going to substitute the light we get on those long summer days, but this is a good compromise and I would strongly encourage you to try it if you suffer like I do in the mornings!

Do you use a daylight alarm clock? what do you think? Is there anyone it hasn’t worked for?

Don’t forget you can find me on social media by clicking the icons to the right of this article if you are on desktop or the bottom if you are on your phone/tablet.

Toodle Pip!

 

 

Naturopathic Nutrition

Fibromyalgia and Diet – My new way of sharing

Happy new week to you all!

I’ve been wracking my brains after lasts weeks Fibromyalgia and Diet post to think of a new way of sharing the food that I eat to make it as useful as possible. It’s taken me until yesterday to work this out but I am going to try keeping a photo food dairy to share with you once per week. The aim of this diary is to share not only what I eat but whether I prepared the food myself or brought it, to share the brands I love and where I eat my food (bear with me on that last point it will make sense). My  hope it that I will be able to demonstrate that whether you are out home, at work, on a day trip or commuting, where there is a will there is a way. You can change your diet to benefit your fibromyalgia. I am also hoping it will help everyone to see that I do eat all three of my meals and not just breakfast (which I seem to snap the most pictures of).

Now, as I only thought of this yesterday, I only have yesterdays diary to share with you today, but next week will be a full week. I also need to stress that as it is a food diary, snapping where I eat my food as well as what I eat, not all of the pictures will be Instagram worthy, but they will be real…..

So without further ado, here is yesterdays food diary!

Sunday – BREAKFAST – Cocoa Porridge with berries and nut butter LUNCH – Red Thai Chicken and Veg Soup and Sea Salt Potato Crisps from Pret A Manger DINNER – Chicken Roast Dinner

I hope I’m heading in the right direction by sharing the practicalities of eating well with fibromyalgia…… I’m also thinking of putting recipes to a vote, so people can choose each week which recipe I should share on the blog the following week πŸ™‚ Would my readers like that? Let me know in the comments section below.

For now, toodle pip and happy eating!

You can find me over on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, where I share articles that I have found helpful, things that make me happy, and of course, food, food, food.