Aromatherapy

Fragrant Fridays – Fibromyalgia Massage Blend

Welcome back to another instalment of Fragrant Friday…. its been a while!

Anyway, following on from my first three posts looking at the benefits and use of Lavender, Peppermint, and Black Pepper, I would like to share with you an easy and effective massage oil blend to help with those niggling symptoms of Fibromyalgia, or if you don’t suffer with fibromyalgia, any niggling aches and pains you may have.

This massage blend is for me, effective in easy any joint and muscle pain I may have and it is super relaxing, so I find it best to use after I have had a bath and when I’m winding down to bed. I sometimes use it for a little bit of self massage, particularly if I have pain in my joints, and if I’m good, my husband will give my back a good run for me, which is where I get the worst of my pain, mostly because I can’t reach it to do anything about it.

I’ve already been through the benefits of these three essential oils in my previous posts, so will mostly concentrate on sharing the ‘recipe’ with you today, but I will leave the links to these posts for you to read should you wish to. This is just one way of combining and using these three essential oils, but as you will see in the original posts there are so many ways you can use them!

 

Fibromyalgia Massage Blend

  • 100mls base oil – I like to use sweet almond oil
  • 40 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 40 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 20 drops of black pepper essential oil

Simply mix into a glass bottle and use! This blend smells great too and works really well if you pour a little of it into a bath!

If you would like to know more about the essential oils I have used in this blend then please visit these pages –

Fragrant Fridays – Lavender

Fragrant Friday – Peppermint

Fragrant Friday – Black Pepper

Are there any massage blends you find helpful? Share your recipes here!

Toodle pip!

 

 

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Fibromyalgia UK Magazine

Fibromyalgia – When you can’t see the wood for the trees

As featured in the August Edition of Fibromyalgia UK Magazine

For many, a Fibromyalgia diagnosis can come after a very long time of trying to work out what is happening to your body. There will likely have been numerous appointments, many tests, sometimes misidiagnosis, and before you have even embarked on becoming better, your brain is already full to bursting with information. So how can it be possible to know which way to turn? I’d like to share with you my way of working all of this out.

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There’s the old saying “You can’t see the wood for the trees” and that can often be true when working out which treatment course to embark upon. There are many pieces or research, lots of data, even more articles, and there is alway someone who wants to tell you about their daughters, friends, cousins wife who has fibromyalgia and what works for her.

After diagnosis and my initial grief, I managed to dust myself down, and stand up against the fibromyalgia, but choosing which path to take was not always easy, and I had to do many u turns on my journey to becoming well enough to return to work and the life I love.

Which medication should I choose? Should I choose any medication at all? What about complimentary therapies? I’ve heard diet makes a difference, is this true? How do I even talk to specialists about treatment without a referral?

This first step for me was to think about what I truly wanted for my treatment. Now, I’m not somebody who takes even paracetamol particularly easy, so would I realistically be able to take the opiates and sleeping tablets I was being offered? Probably not, so while not striking this path off my list of options entirely, I did put them to one side. Which ultimately meant going down a less medicalised, more complimentary approach.

I started by looking at what was available to me either on the NHS or privately within my very small budget, and then looked at the research behind whether or not these treatments were effective. There was no point in looking up treatments for something I couldn’t afford as I would only have felt resentful that it may benefit me but I would simply never know. You also have to think outside of the box a little if you don’t want risk not being able to put food on the table in your quest to treat your fibromyalgia. Do you know someone who may be able to offer some therapy for mates rates? Is there a local college or university nearby that offers heavily discounted rates for essentially the same treatment overseen by a qualified practitioner? Are there any trials going on within your NHS trust that you can participate in?

Even with my limited budget and NHS offers there was still a wide range of things I could try, CBT, physiotherapy, mindfulness, acupuncture, looking at my nutrition, exercise, massage, but it was difficult to know where to start. In the end I started by looking at what I could get for free, for obvious reasons, before working out what I would need to fund myself. I asked my rheumatologist if there were any trials I could participate in and this is where I accessed my CBT, and I got it very quickly. I asked my occupational health department what they could offer and from this I managed to access Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy. I then asked around my friends and family via social media if they know anybody that offered complementary services and from this I managed to get acupuncture and nutrition very cheap. And finally I looked at what I could teach myself and from this I developed my own exercise programme in collaboration with my free physiotherapy and taught myself mindfulness with the aid of a cheap phone app. I’m currently exploring massage through a local college which offers an hour long full body massage for £18!

However, even with all of these wonderful services at my disposal I was careful not to jump in and try them all at once. I staggered my trials of each treatment by a few weeks and kept a symptom diary to monitor the impact on my symptoms. Had I started them all at once, I wouldn’t have known what was helping and what wasn’t. By staggering my approach I managed to ascertain what worked well and what didn’t and as a result I have almost completed a course of CBT, have a manageable exercise program, have made permanent changes to my diet, made permanent changes to my work environment, and most importantly I feel a whole load better.

So I guess the trick to finding a treatment that works for you is to think about what type of person you are and what type of treatment you can commit to. Can you commit to doing your own physiotherapy everyday? Will you be honest and open enough for CBT? Do you mind taking medication? Do you have a needle phobia? What is available? What can I afford? Once you have answered these questions you can then start looking at ways to access the treatment and use them to hopefully, one day, thrive with fibromyalgia.

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Recipes

Recipe – Gluten and Dairy Free Yorkshire Pudding

The quest for a yorkshire pudding I can eat is over! I have finally perfected my gluten and dairy free yorkie, and isn’t it a thing of beauty??!

It took my some time to get this right but now that I have I am delighted to share it with you all!

Gluten and Dairy Free Yorkshire Puddings

Ingredients – makes 10 muffin sized yorkies

  • 120g gluten free plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 175mls rice milk
  • Olive oil to cook

Method

  1. Place the eggs and flour into a bowl and whisk together until well combined
  2. Slowly add the milk to the flour and egg mix, whisking together until well combined, ensuring there are no lumps, between each addition
  3. Add a pinch of salt and leave to rest for at least an hour
  4. Place about half a teaspoon of olive oil into each hole of a muffin tin, and place into a hot oven of at least Gas Mark 6/ 200 degrees until hot but not smoking (about 5 minutes)
  5. When the oil is good and hot take the tin out of the oven, and pour the batter evenly into the holes of the muffin tin before the oil cools down. Replace into the oven and try not to opewn the door while they are cooking.
  6. Cook for 20 minutes. or until golden and crispy.

Enjoy with your favourite roast dinner and gluten free gravy!

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and it helps those who have missed yorkies as a result of a gluten or dairy free diet to become reunited with this neseccary part of any British sunday roast!

As ever, feel free to coment in the section below, or come and say hello over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

 

Sleep Hygiene

The Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles #9 – To nap or not to nap?

That is the question! Now, around the time and just before my diagnosis, I was napping, A LOT, and back then I could, I wasn’t working the kids were at school, and it allowed me to escape my pain. However, my sleep at nighttime was completely and utterly screwed. I would spend hours and hours just lying there awake, in pain, and not getting any better, and my fibromyalgia was running a muck!

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t nap, or that I shouldn’t nap, and sometimes I still do, but it is about napping smartly. That right, smart napping. Because napping can be smart (the word smart is now beginning to sound a bit odd and so I should probably stop saying it).

So how exactly should you nap? I should probably point out here that this is more about what I have found useful and what I have learnt along my journey to achieving healthier sleep and overall wellbeing. We are all individual, and just because it works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you, but if your sleep is up the swanny, you have nothing to lose.

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As ever I would always recommend you beginning your journey to sleeping better with the beginning of this series, which you can find here, and working your way through, practising each section for a week or two before moving on.

So here are my top tips for smart napping –

1. Stop calling it napping and start calling it recovery periods

When we say we are taking a nap we automatically think of sleeping, and if we haven’t slept for that nap, it can feel like we have somehow failed and feel even more tired than before we started to go for a nap. By calling it a recovery period it take the pressure off actually sleeping and using the time to ‘recover’ and regain some energy (which you do not necessarily have to sleep to do). Taking any time out to just rest your body and your brain can be helpful, I often take myself for 20 minutes just to do some guided mindfulness, which often leaves me feeling better and more energised than if I sleep.

2. Time it well

Whatever you do, DO NOT nap at the wrong time. That’s right, there is a wrong time to nap. If you take into account your circadian rhythm, the optimal time to nap is between 1-3pm, any later and you are likely to disrupt your sleep at night, any earlier and you are likely to throw your rhythm completely out of whack and feel tired for the rest of the day.

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3. Nap for just the right amount of time

Maximum napping time should be no longer than 40 minutes to 1 hour (they don’t call it 40 winks for nothing), especially if you are going to actually sleep. Any longer, and you will fall into a deep sleep, and wake up feeling drunk and disorientated and the rest of your day is likely to be very unproductive, and you probably won’t sleep well that night which means you’ll feel crap the next day. So set an alarm, have a big drink of water when you wake and get into some daylight to make your day go better.

4. Practice something other than napping

As I said above, you don’t have to actually fall to sleep to recover. If you find it hard to fall asleep in the time you have, practice some other techniques that will help you feel better. You could shut yourself into a quiet room and do some reading, practice some meditation and mindfulness, or even just sit in the garden with your eyes closed listening to the birds.

5. Keep a sleep journal

Keeping a journal can help you to recognise what napping practices are affecting your nighttime rest and recovery, as well as how you are feeling in the day for the better and the worse. You will be able to quickly identify what is working well for you and eliminate what isn’t helping you.

6. Nap for the right reasons

Whatever you do, do not nap as an escape method from your chronic illness symptoms. If you find you are taking multiple naps, and you are using it to get away from how you are feeling then you may be susceptible to low mood and depression, which you may need to seek help for. If this is you then I urge you to seek help from you family doctor, and find other ways of managing your symptoms. Excessive napping is unlikely to help and you need to find another solution. I now physically nap very rarely, but when I do it is often because I have had a particularly physically challenging morning and need to just get a little rest before the day continues. I do however have recovery periods during the day to help me recover mentally from challenging and my favourite activities are mindfulness and walking in the fresh air, particularly during my lunch break at work (which I must do more often!)

So there are my top tips for recovering like a smart ass. Give it a go (but not before you have worked through my other posts of course!).

Remember, you can find my very easily over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, come give me a wave and share your experiences with chronic illness! You can also leave a comment down below and I will get back to you as soon as I can!

Toodle pip!

 

 

 

 

Naturopathic Nutrition

Fibromyalgia and Diet – Going strong

Dearest readers,

Once again I am begging for forgiveness for the neglect I have bestowed upon the blog. Working full-time, kids in clubs every evening, keeping up the good diet habits to keep the fibromyalgia symptoms at bay….. it can all sometimes feel a little overwhelming.

So from last weekend I’ve been trying something a little different. I’m now working Monday-Friday 10-6 which means I am able to control my symptoms a little better (even though I am still screwed by the time I get home from work), and I now have weekends to get myself sorted a reset ready for a new week.

So last weekend I tried a new way of doing things which made the week a whole lot easier. I spent one day devoted to the kids and the family, going out for the day and making the most of our time together. The other day I spent cooking and meal planning for the rest of the week. This meant I didn’t once have to buy lunch, I didn’t have to cook when I got home and was already tired and as a result I have eaten so much better. I went meat free Monday-Friday, and moving towards being meat free pretty much all of the time soon.

This weekend I have repeated the process, spending Saturday with the family and enjoying the local festival and Sunday cooking, relaxing and just being free to enjoy my time at home. The only difference is that I am throwing in my blog planning and writing into the mix, writing and scheduling my posts for the rest of the week. I’m too tired to do this when I get home so the cooking day seemed like the perfect day to blog too. In fact, as I write this post I am halfway through a massive pot of quorn bolognese (you can find my bolognese recipe here and just substitute the beef for quorn).

As for the diet, its going well. Although I have to confess to giving in to a little gluten and dairy at the weekend 😦 which I WILL NOT be repeating!

The low sugar bit is good, I’m just having a little at the weekend in a bar of dark chocolate and maybe a can of two of San Pellegrino a week, and I’m not craving it anywhere near as often as I once did. Best step I’ve made in years. Even lost a little weight, which is always a bonus when you have a good covering 😉

Anyway, I’ve obviously eaten A LOT since my last post, so here are just a few of my anti-inflammatory, gluten and dairy free highlights from the past month. Remember, it can sometimes be scary and feel impossible to make a change, but if I can do it anyone can! Going gluten and dairy free has been a massive change for me this year but it is now just second nature and I don’t even really have to think too hard about it now. Hoping these pictures inspire some to make a change for the better and help people to realise that you can still eat delicious food even if you are gluten and dairy free. Enjoy!

 

Coconut porridge with strawberries and Pip N Nut peanut butter

Homemade granola with fruit and Coconut Collaborative yoghurt

Three of my favourite things, salmon, eggs, and avocado, just on a plate together!

Vegan, double chocolate cookies, homemade of course!

Soya hot chocolate from Cuppacino in Clapham Junction Station.

Mushroom and spinach omelette, yum!

Homemade Granola with Coconut Collaborative yoghurt and the freshest, yummiest cherries.

Maybe a bit heavy of the breakfast sharing now, this time Lizzie’s Granola with fresh fruit and coconut yoghurt

More coconut porridge, this time with fresh fruit and pecans

Homemade stir fried tofu with brown rice and pak choi

There’s the salmon and eggs again!

The last takewaway a had a few weeks ago from Naturally Chinese, the best gluten and dairy free takeaway menu ever!

Simple but very tasty, green beans in a tomato sauce served with brown rice. You can find my recipe under the recipes heading on the side of the page!

Sometimes I have to praise the lord for Pret, really saved my skin over the summer with the long commutes. This is their coconut porridge with red quinoa, toasted seeds, and jam.

Homemae blueberry and honey cake, refined sugar free!

Of course had to end with my favourite thing, porridge! this time with raspberries, pecans and honey!
That’s not even the half of it! Will share some more next week!

 

I wanted to thank everyone who have ben reading my blog still, despite the lack of recent posts. Your following and readership absolutely means the world to me and please don’t interpret my lack of posts as me not caring. I do! Just working out how to fit this all in. Oh how I wish this paid, then I could do it all the time!

Anyway, for now, doodle pip! See you soon and please feel free to come and say hello over on social media, you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Recipes

Recipe – Green Beans with tomato sauce and brown rice

I’m often looking for something quick, easy, and cheap to cook. Even better if it is something that reheats well so I can take leftovers to work the next day. I’ve also been trying to eat much less meat recently (don’t worry, I won’t cut everything out and stop eating!), and I obviously like my dinners to be healthy. Finally they have to be gluten and dairy free.

We also like to eat seasonably. Green beans are in season right now and my husband keeps bringing them home so I needed to find a recipe that would jazz them up a little. However lovely green beans are just steamed or quickly boiled, its always nice to try something new.

All of the ingredients in this recipe are things that most families will have in the cupboard or the fridge. Theres nothing fancy in this, but the ingredients all work well together and create a simple yet tasty midweek supper. It is also very easy to double or even triple up for batch cooking.

Green beans with tomato sauce and brown rice

Ingredients – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion – finely chopped
  • 125g green beans – roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves – crushed or finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground all spice
  • 250g passata
  • Lemon – cut into wedges
  • 150g brown rice

Method

Heat the olive oil over a low-medium heat in a large saucepan and add the onion. Gently fry for 10 minutes or until softened and translucent.


Add the beans, garlic and all spice. Stir gently until all of the ingredients are coated in the all spice.


Add the passata and about 50mls water. Bring to the boil and then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. stirring occasionally.


Meanwhile cook the rice as per pack instructions.

When the rice is cooked, drain and divide between two dishes. Spoon the beans and tomato sauce into the dishes and garnish with a lemon wedge to squeeze over to taste.


Easy peasy! So simple, so cheap, and so tasty. I made a double batch this evening and will be taking leftovers to work tomorrow which is always a bonus for the tummy and the purse! Saucy dishes always make the best leftovers.

For more gluten free, dairy free and anti inflammatory food inspiration please follow me on Instagram. For all things fibromyalgia, then stay up to date over on my Facebook and Twitter pages!

Toodle pip!

Naturopathic Nutrition

Fibromyalgia and Diet – 1 week off the sugar

1 week in, and a lot less sugar eaten!

Now, I feel like I need to explain something. When I say sugar free, what I really mean is refined sugar free, and as explained in my last post, there may be the odd occasion where I still have refined sugar, just because I deserve it. This is also a path towards being refined sugar free, and will take time to break the habit. Naturally occurring sugars on the other hand, they’re ok, in moderation, and some occur in foods are helpful in my journey, such as honey and fruit.

So how did I get on this past week? Well I think I did quite well. I only had refined sugar on two occasions, once in a San Pellegrino drink with a meal, and on Saturday my family brought me a small packet of jelly peaches (my favourite), and well, it would have been rude not to eat them!

Some things that have helped in cutting down so dramatically

  • Eating fresh food
  • Cooking from scratch
  • Eating some damn delicious seasonal food
  • Keeping hydrated has helped keep the pop cravings at bay
  • My porridges in the morning have been a welcome sweet treat

So yes, I’ve had two little bits of refined sugar, but considering I was having a little here and there most days I think thats a major improvement! So Im giving myself a little pat on the back (and not eating sweets) to congratulate myself.

However, its all very well cutting out the sugar, which alone will have many health benefits, but have I actually felt these benefits yet and has it been worth it? Well, I’m pleased to report I haven’t had as many post lunch slumps, I’m much less bloated, and I’ve worked through the headaches. I’ve still had some evenings of muscle weakness, fibromyalgia fog is still rife and I’m still super tired by the end of the day, but on the whole I feel much much better in the daytime hours, which are the most important hours right? I never thought it would be the answer to all of my problems, but all the little pieces of the puzzle link up to improve my symptoms. Totally worth it in my eyes!

It wouldn’t be Monday if I didn’t share with you some of my recent foodie adventures!

Good old coconut porridge with strawberries, flaked almonds, chia seeds, accidental poppy seeds and honey.
Coconut porridge with banana, raspberries, strawberries pecans and mint. Try mint if you have berries on you porridge, it all goes so well together.
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Superfood salad from Gails Bakery
More coconut porridge with strawberries, banana, pecans and mint.
Homemade blackberry and maple compote, inspired by 26 Grains.
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In a quest to stop buying salad at work I made my very own sushi salad bowl inspired by this months Good Food Magazine.
Chocolate porridge made with coconut milk, topped with blackberry maple compote and peanut butter. Inspired by 26 Grains.

That it for this weeks food adventures, all taken on the long road to thriving with Fibromyalgia. Stay tuned for more fibromyalgia and food related posts coming up this week.

To follow my journey and for up to date news and research on all thing fibromyalgia, please follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Toodle pip!