Link Love #3

Hey gang! How are all we all doing on this lovely morning? Here are some fab links you can get your teeth into on your commute…

  1. Lauren’s post about dealing with a chronic illness I could totally relate to.
  2. This idea for a kindness advent calendar.
  3. I have definitely had all of these thoughts whilst on the tube, especially no 48!
  4. I also loved this post also about commuting in London….
  5. Madeleine Shaw’s tips about how to survive the festive season are well worth a read.
  6. I loved these 50 ideas for how to practice self care.. something I need to remind myself in this festive period!
  7. Finally, If you have 1 minute it would be amazing if you could sign this petition to fund more research into Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.

I’m loving these sunny winter days we’ve been having and the evenings have been great to catch up with all the blogs I love to follow (and I’m A Celeb of course!)


What have you guys been reading recently?!

Link Love #1

So I’ve been reading some incredible things across social media and blogs recently. There are some seriously amazing writers and people out there and I’m all about sharing good work! I know I rely so much on people sharing what they love on social media, so I thought I would create a series of posts containing all the writing I’m loving at the moment.

I’m not sure how regularly I’ll post all my link love but you can be sure that when it does arrive it will be everything I have been loving recently!

So here goes, # 1!

  1. This post from Elle Next Door who describes what it is like to live with Coeliac Disease so perfectly. I would never be able to express this in such an articulate way. I read it and could relate to every word. Please have a read!
  2. Sophie Cliff’s post about needing a duvet day. I am often a culprit of trying to keep going with everything all the time, I know I often need a duvet day but don’t let myself have one because of the guilt of being unproductive. This has reminded me that it’s important to give your body & mind a break every once in a while!
  3. Hannah Gale’s post about how women treat other women in regards to their bodies. This post is just so needed in the current society we live in and I could not be happier to share it for you all to read!
  4. Lauren Rellis’ post about how suddenly health can become such a priority. This was a post I can really relate to and it really made my morning when it landed in my inbox. It always amazes me how the internet can remind me that people feel/think the same things and that is so comforting!
  5. The story of what it was like to be on Air Force One on 9/11 had me avidly reading earlier this week. It gave definitely gave me chills.
  6. Amy’s description of what a Sunday Well Spent looks like had me dreaming of Sunday already!
  7. This description of what people with chronic illnesses hear when certain phrases are used is well worth a read even if you don’t know anyone with a chronic illness.

Let me know what you think of all these posts, and what would you suggest I get reading this week!?

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What is a Spoonie?

Spoonie. A term that is being used increasingly in mainstream articles. But what exactly is it?

The term “Spoonie” was coined by Christine Miserandino to describe the impact of her chronic illness. It has fast become a very popular way to describe what it is like living with a chronic illness to people who might not have experienced living with one, or knowing people who have suffered.

The full story can be found on her website here.

It is SO worth a read. It quantifies and explains what is quite an abstract idea.

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Essentially the spoon theory is that you have a limited number of “spoons” per day. Each activity you do takes up a spoon. So showering and getting dressed is a spoon, making breakfast is a spoon, getting to where you need to go is a spoon, lifting something heavy is a spoon, making dinner is a spoon, unpacking the dishwasher is a spoon. You have to prioritise your spoons. Obviously, going to uni/work is nonnegotiable, so sometimes social or cleaning activities have to fall by the wayside. It’s all a juggling process – something that I have learnt to do over the years – but it can be frustrating having to plan and organise your life so that you don’t run out of “spoons”.

Have any of you heard of the spoon theory? What do you think of it?

 

What is the FODMAP diet?

FODMAP. The diet that more and more people are being prescribed by Drs. But what really is it?

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FODMAP is a diet which excludes certain types of foods. The term FODMAP is an acronym, derived from “Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols”.

According to the handy source that is Wikipedia “FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. They include short chain oligo-saccharide polymers of fructose (fructans) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS, stachyose, raffinose), disaccharides (lactose), monosaccharides (fructose), and sugar alcohols (polyols), such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol.” (This makes no sense to me either so for me and you it’s easier to look at a list of excluded foods to make sense of it.) These foods include onions, garlic, gluten, some dairy products, artificial sweeteners, apples, pears, cherries, green peppers, peas, beans, chickpeas, cauliflower, asparagus, honey, agave syrup, fruit juice and more than one glass of wine. (This is by far not an extensive list but a quick Google search will give you a list – these are just be foods I can rattle of the top of my head!)

I also minimise the amount of sugar I eat as although it’s not on the high FODMAP list I know my body doesn’t handle a lot of sugar well.

Foods are categorised into high and low FODMAP foods. The idea is that you avoid the high FODMAP foods for a period of time and then gradually reintroduce the foods back into your diet. Often not re-introducing garlic, onion and gluten though.

When I started the diet, coming up for 2 years ago, hardly anyone had ever heard of it. I told Drs and family and they looked at me blankly, waiting for an explanation on why I was telling them I was on a diet with an odd acronym.

Fast forward 2 years and I’ve heard more and more people being prescribed the diet for IBS type symptoms. I’m not sure I agree with this sudden prescription of the diet without ruling out other issues first. It is massively restrictive and therefore can have a massive impact on your quality of life if you don’t know how to manage it properly. It’s also true that if you don’t follow the diet properly it’s likely to have no positive effect. Therefore for a lot of effort and stress, it might not give the health results you need or want. I think that Doctors need to rule out all other possibilities before prescribing the diet and then follow up with support to ensure it is a worthwhile endeavour for patients.

For me, I have followed the diet very faithfully for coming up 2 years. I haven’t eaten dairy for over 10 years anyway, and I’ve been on and off gluten for years as well as sugar and various other foods, so making a change to my diet wasn’t new to me. I haven’t eaten gluten, wheat, onions, garlic, apples, pears or artificial sweeteners for 2 years now (and dairy for 10 years obviously!) The other foods, like chickpeas, green peppers, beans, peas, asparagus and various fruits don’t have such an extreme effect on me so if I have them once in a while (often because I have no other option if I’m away or at someone else’s house) I don’t have such a bad reaction. If I was to eat them on a constant basis however I would get very ill.

The basis of the FODMAP diet is that you are meant to be able to re-introduce foods again but I have found I can’t do that. When I have accidentally eaten onions or garlic I have been SO ill it’s not even worth thinking about trying to eat them. I even have a reaction now when there is cross-contamination with any of the main foods I can’t eat.

That is one of the downsides with the diet, I find that as soon as I cut something out I have a more extreme reaction to it. I think this is because my body has got used to not having to digest or deal with those foods so as soon as I do my body has an awful reaction. I think this is why my reactions have now progressed to if there is cross-contamination with the foods I can’t eat with the foods I can eat.

In terms of managing the diet on a day to day basis, I don’t find it difficult at home. I have to cook everything from scratch and make sure I am incredibly organised. I have to take my own lunches everywhere and snacks as well. This of course does make me feel like a bit of a freak when I whip out my homemade lunch rather than being able to join in on a lunchtime trip for food. But it is so worth it for me in the benefit it has for me health. I think the complicating factor for me is that I also have hypoglycaemia so I absolutely have to eat every few hours otherwise I get so nauseous and dizzy that I faint. It’s always worse in the morning and so I have to make sure I have plenty of snacks with me to prevent an onset of symptoms.

The hardest part of the diet is eating out and going away. Eating out in the UK tends to be okay as all restaurants have to have an allergy list (although onion and garlic aren’t included in this annoyingly!) I do have to work a lot around menus and take a lot of foods out the dish, but it’s not the end of the world! I steer clear of Thai, Indian and Chinese restaurants as there is no way I can eat anything there.

Going on holiday is a bit harder as I have to be very organised with when I’m going to eat food, what snacks I need and where I can eat that will understand the foods I can eat. I spend a lot of time researching where I can eat before I go away! It does sometimes take the joy away from holidays a little bit but again, my health is the most important thing and if I was to eat something I couldn’t eat it would then ruin the holiday anyway! I’m very lucky that the friends and family I go away with are so understanding. I really am grateful for them!

I’m always looking for new foods to incorporate into my diet, new recipes and new snack ideas. Almond butter is currently my best friend!!

I hope that the FODMAP diet is a bit clearer for you now. If you have any questions please comment away! I would also love to hear from anyone on FODMAP or a similar diet and how you handle it?!

Epsom Bath Salts

I’ve talked about various back problems I’ve had in previous posts, but just to give you the low-down. I have a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which means that my joints can move out of place very easily as my connective tissue doesn’t work as it should. It also means I have chronic neck & pack pain. Doing things like carrying a bag or a suitcase, standing up for long periods of time or moving in a funny way can result in excruciating pain so I spend a lot of time looking for ways to relieve this pain.
Obviously pain medication is useful, but with chronic pain taking it all the time isn’t really an option or good for you, so I try to find alternatives. 

Ice packs are my best friend, along with hot water bottles. However one of the best pain relievers I have found are Epsom salt baths. Epsom salts have a high level of magnesium that absorb into the skin and also have healing properties. I think they are used quite a bit now by athletes who want to have a quick recovery time between training sessions. 

I try and have a bath around 3 times a week with these salts. I put around 500g in each bath to make sure I really get the most pain relief from them. They are honestly a life saver and have really helped me through some sticky situations! I find they relax me enough for joints to often go back into place on their own (big shout out to my ribs) rather than having to make a trip to the Drs. Plus they’re perfect to lie in with a cup of tea and a good book (or bloglovin to catch up on my favourite blogs!) I also find they really help my state of mind when I’m in a lot of pain and come out of them a lot more positive and ready to deal with the situation than when I went in! 

If anyone out there is struggling with similar pain issues I would really recommend them. 

Do any of you have any pain relief tips? I’m always on the look out for some new ideas!