One of the most challenging but also the most beneficial changes I made on my journey to recovery from ME/CFS was that of my diet.
I had enough knowledge to understand that you are what you eat and I was brought up to be a reasonably healthy eater but I didn’t truly appreciate the effects of healthy eating until I started to be really rigid after my diagnosis.
My body had become so exhausted and my gut so unhealthy that I was no longer able to tolerate or digest certain foods, which I had previously been able to with no negative effects.
These foods had become like a poison to me and it appears were causing many of my symptoms –
- Muscle and joint aches and pains
- Extreme exhaustion and fatigue
- Very little energy
- Low moods and depression
- Brain fog and very poor memory
- Increased flare ups of eczema
- Constipation and bloatedness
- Severe, very smelly, wind, even though I hate to admit it!
It was becoming increasingly difficult to get out of bed each morning and when I did, I would manage a couple of hours work, or a trip to the shops, and then fall back on the sofa to sleep for another 4 or 5 hours. After all that, I would still sleep a full night!
When I was at my worst, it took all the strength I had but I knew that if I could get out of bed, get some fresh air and exercise, by walking the very short distance to the shops, buy the ingredients for a healthy meal, cook it and eat it, anything else would be a bonus! At that time, I accepted that this was enough but had to be done or else I would eventually not be able to look after my son or me.
Of course, I already knew that I should be avoiding any foods with additives and preservatives and I avoided food and drink with added sugar and salt like baked beans, breakfast cereals, crisps, chocolate, sweets, alcohol, fizzy drinks, caffeine and much, much more! I ate a very basic diet, a bit like a caveman would have done but with nowhere near as much red meat!
I visited a nutritionist to find out which foods were having the worst effect on my body and this helped enormously. However, the foods that I shouldn’t be eating were the ones I loved…bread, pasta and some other odd foods that you wouldn’t expect, even some fruits and vegetables weren’t good for me.
Now, to give up these foods overnight can be extremely challenging for anyone to do as they are very addictive, and I admit that I was no angel! I slipped up on a number of occasions, mainly because I was too tired at times to go to the shops and would cook whatever convenience foods were in the cupboard, which tended to be pasta, baked beans, bread – all the very bad things!
There are also the times that you have no control over what you can eat, like when you visit family and friends or go out to dinner. However, when this happened I would just be extra vigilant for the following few days.
The turning point for me was when I found out about the benefits of doing a juice detox and discovered Jason Vale, the JuiceMaster.
I followed his Turbo-charge Your Life in 14 Days and never looked back!
I only drank fruit and vegetable juices, with added super foods of spirulina and wheatgrass. The effects were amazing and because I was already following a healthy diet I didn’t suffer with too many cold turkey symptoms, like severe headaches.
I found by doing detoxes throughout the year, usually at the change of the season or after holidays or Christmas, I was able to break any of the ‘addictions’ I had built up again to sugar, gluten etc., almost overnight, and within 3 days I really didn’t crave or even want any of the bad stuff.
Drinking just juices would –
- give my gut a rest from digesting whole foods and the not so good foods, which in turn gave me an amazing boost of energy
- severely ease my muscle aches and joint pains
- raise my mood consistently, preventing the mood swings
- improve the quality of my sleep
- prevent eczema flare-ups and spots
It was also a huge reminder of the negative effect all those bad things like sugar, gluten and salt had on my body and made me want to avoid them altogether. The more rigid I was with my diet and the longer I stuck to it, the easier it got, so that I really didn’t want to eat the bad foods at all.
And an added bonus was that I lost all the excess weight that I had found so hard to shift due to inactivity and the underachieve thyroid, which was another symptom of the M.E./CFS.
Back then, I used a juicer and a blender to make my juices, however, I have since found a much better way, which is faster, less fuss, and doesn’t use excessive amounts of fruit. More importantly, you use the whole fruit and vegetable rather than just the juice.
It’s called a Nutribullet
…and you can add almost anything to it, including nuts, seeds, nut butters, nut milks, tahini paste, protein powders, frozen fruit and vegetables, as well as hard vegetables like carrots.
A Nutribullet makes a blend, rather than juice, which have recently received some bad press for various reasons.
Here’s an example of some ingredients you can use –
- A large handful of spinach or kale,
- An inch slice of cucumber,
- A stick of celery,
- Either some fresh or frozen pineapple chunks or fresh or frozen mixed berries,
- Half an avocado or a small handful of cashew nuts or almonds, or ½ a banana
- 1tsp of coconut oil
- An inch cube of fresh ginger root
- Coconut water or almond milk or plain water
Even when I’m not detoxing I drink a juice everyday as it is like an instant boost of energy and goodness for my body, giving me way more than the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables. I call it my liquid gold!
For more recipes, I recommend Jason Vale’s Super Blend Me
Give it a go, experiment, have fun and notice the effect it has on both your physical and your mental wellbeing!