Triangle Part One – Does Nutrition Play Any Part in Recovery?
Having researched M.E/Chronic Fatigue for years, visited numerous specialists, talked to so many fellow sufferers I am of the same opinion as many others.
Recovery is a three point triangle –
1. Nutrition – what we put into our bodies
2. Mind – the way we think about our illness & our attitudes
3. Body – mechanics of the body
I will blog about each one of these in the hope of putting the knowledge I have learnt to good use.
Someone asked me recently, “Do you think your diet has had any effect on your recovery?”
I immediately said “Absolutely yes its a huge part”.
I didn’t realise the huge influence nutrition played in our health until about 5 years ago. My physiotherapist, like I has suffered with very severe Chronic Fatigue for multiple years, she told me about her recovery & educated me on food. Over the years I have researched it for myself. Most people know I am now studying nutrition at the ‘College of Naturopathic Medicine’ in Manchester & hope to become a ‘Nutritional Therapist’ who specialises with M.E/CFS clients. I am so confident that nutrition plays such a vital role in our recovery that I plan to make a career from it!
There is endless possibilities for an M.E patient, I could never write it all on a blog & it is so specific to each person. No two people will ever take the same path to recovery because we are all so different. I see it as a jigsaw puzzle of seeing what works for us.
Here is a very rough guide to nutrition and I really hope it encourages some of you to think about it and maybe research it further.
Growing up I had your typical Western diet. When I was having a particularly bad day, I drank Lucozade for energy & tried to cheer myself up by eating chocolate & my favourite foods. I loved those sherbet sticks (basically colourful sugar)! I loved white bread & lots of it. I never once thought about food. It’s just food, who gives it a second thought?
We need to learn to think of food as fuel, thats exactly what is it. How can we expect our engines (bodies) to run well if we fill it with bad fuel (food).
I spent years reading nutrition books before I decided to study it. There is so much to learn its literally endless.
The way I see it, I try to help my little body as much as I can, in order for it to help me. Even though we may not always feel it, our bodies are incredibly resilient & are working to keep us alive and well 24/7.
My poor hopeless M.E body was having alot of difficulties and obviously struggling so I started putting in good nutritious food to help my cells which build the energy (in simple terms, or research mitochondria cells). I cut back on the poisons I was putting in, endless cups of tea, processed foods, foods with an huge list of additives, alcohol.
I swapped them gradually for natural foods, a diet abundant in fresh fruit & vegetables, the more varied the better. My family tease me when a snack is a carrot stick, why is it weird to munch on a carrot? It’s packed full of the good stuff to help my body! Much more than a chocolate biscuit, not only is it bad for my waist line & not helping my body, these rubbish foods are in fact harming our fragile bodies.
Some simple changes: –
Swap white bread for wholegrain/wholewheat brown bread
Try to have protein with each meal, it helps us to balance our energy levels eg. some form of meat, nuts, eggs
Drink 8+ glasses of water per day – everyone says this & it is very boring but it helps us massively to flush out the toxins. Filtered/bottled water is perfect in an ideal world. Tap water is fine.
Eat lots of fruit & vegetables.
Experiment with new/different foods…
Start reading the ingredients on your food. You will be amazed. I looked & didn’t even know what half of them were! We should be worried if we don’t know what we are eating. Eg. Turkey in a packet is packed full of additives to keep it fresh, i just go over to the deli part instead & ask for slices of actual turkey which I can see has been cooked that day. No additives. Just turkey. Simple.
Think about where your food has come from. Eg. Jelly sweets, what exactly is that? How can it be classed as food? Theres nothing nutritious in them at all.
An M.E/CFS body doesn’t typically like, alcohol, caffeine (tea & coffee), sugar. These all cause havoc with our energy levels because they all cause a spike in blood sugar & energy levels only for us to then fall and crash. Most people dont even notice, I used to drink gallons of cups of tea with milk & never noticed. Again it is just causing our bodies to work extra hard to balance our energy levels, when its already trying to work so hard to make us well. Maybe substitute them for herbal teas, its tough going at first, even cut back one cup a day at first. I love herbal white tea, green tea & nettle tea. They can be quite an acquired taste but persevere they have so many benefits!
Wheatgrass juice shots – full of B vitamins needed to make energy
Begin the day with hot water, half lemon squeezed & root ginger – full of antioxidants & good for digestion
Some simple nutritious meal ideas:
Salmon w/ salad leaves, celery & cucumber Stir-fry chicken & veg.
I love to make easy juices, I bought a ‘Breville’ juicer cheap from eBay. Juices are packed full of our essential vitamins & minerals.
Organic orange & carrot juice is my absolute favourite.
A few days of my average food intake from Waitrose
To eat organic is obviously the best thing if you want to go that far, because we aren’t adding the pesticides and herbicides which they put on un-organic foods into our bodies. They are just toxic to our bodies and then our bodies have to work harder to detox them.
My lecturer once said “Any food that doesn’t nourish you is a waste of money and time”. This really stuck with me. Don’t get me wrong I love Cadburys & the occasional treat but day in day out is a no-no, it is actually inhibiting our recovery and doing our bodies alot of harm.
We will all be on different journies. My diet is far from what is needs to be but I am still learning & it is tough going sometimes when everyone around you eats differently.
I do urge you to think about what you have read & if you are well enough to research nutrition further, I promise you won’t regret it.
Few of my favourites – if you can’t afford to buy them, reserve them at the local library – thats what I do 🙂
This book is amazing & useful I invested in it!
‘500 of the most important health tips you will ever need’ – Hazel Courteney
Helpful videos & websites:
Sending everyone healthy wishes
Lots of love
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