Taking control … Using food!

A few weeks ago, after reading a post from Steph Dodson’s blog – ‘Morning Sickness, can I use food as a medicine?’ recently, and researching the difference diet can make to symptoms, I decided to gradually change my diet. Every day Steph (a fellow chronic pain sufferer) posts her daily breakfast smoothie on her Facebook page – they always look so yummy and healthy so I though I’d give it a go to see if it made a difference to my new symptoms (fatigue, dizziness, muscle aches, insomnia, headaches). This blog asks the question, can food be used as a medicine for those with chronic pain/illnesses?

I wanted to look for foods that have the ability reduce the inflammation in the body that creates pain – foods that have some analgesic or pain-reducing qualities and foods that will produce more energy in the body. These foods which consist of fruits, veggies, spices and herbs, are known as the virtual tag team to make your body feel better. Immediately after doing the research, I ordered lots of fruit and veg and started making fruit smoothies in the mornings instead of having my usual sugary cereal. I didn’t want to change my diet dramatically as I LOVE my food and I don’t want to deprive myself of things I love. Afterall  I don’t eat to live, I live to eat! Life is greatly restricted when you have a chronic illness; a lot of the things I used to look forward to and enjoy I can no longer do. Cooking and enjoying good food however is the one thing that I can always look forward without my illness getting in the way too much. Making dinner is a really special time for me and my boyfriend as it’s something we can do together. We are very experimental with our cooking – cooking EVERYTHING from scratch and finding new recipes every week to give a go. Because we eat really healthy evening meals I decided to just change what I eat for breakfast and lunch.

My goals for this experiment are to increase my vitamin intake, to decrease my fatigue, to improve sleep, to increase my fibre intake to help with the constipation from the meds, and to give my body more energy.

The first smoothie I made was absolutely delicious. On holiday in Italy last year I tried a smoothie with avocado in and couldn’t believe how good it tasted. They make smoothies so creamy and they actually boost vitamin absorption. Not only are they brimming with fiber, folate and vitamin K, but the healthy fats make it easier for the body to absorb all the good stuff in smoothies. I searched through so many recipes to find one that vaguely resembled the one I tried in Italy. In the end this is the one I made:

Chocolate Avocado Smoothie 

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1 bananna
1/2 avocado
1 tsp cocao powder
1 cup vanilla soya milk

It tastes like a chocolate dessert – It’s creamy and rich but so healthy!!

Other Favourites of mine are:

Avocado and Banana Smoothie

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1 banana
1/2 avocado
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 cup soya milk or water
1/2 banana
1 tbsp Manuka honey

Its so creamy and sweet, you forget how good it is for you! Bananas are good for energy production, bowel health, and brain function. This smoothie has anti-inflammatory qualities and high levels of foliate therefore it is a great recovery smoothie and provides a great vitamin boost! Manuka honey is known for its healing power and has anti-inflammatory action that can reduce pain and inflammation.

Avocado and Blueberry Smoothie

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1 cup blueberries
1/2 avocado
1/2 cup natural yoghurt
1 cup of milk
1 tbsp manuka honey

This antioxidant, anti-inflammatory smoothie is delicious! Blueberries offer huge health benefits from boosting brain health to improving bone strength. They are little powerhouses which provide a tasty way to stay healthy.

Lunch

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Lunch used to consist of a wrap or a sandwich with cheese and ham, some fruit and a cereal bar or some crisps. Now I don’t have bread at all, and I am gradually starting a gluten-free diet. I now have quinoa with lots of veggies, chilli and some Italian ham. Or I will have sushi or soup! For snacks I’ve been having Eat Natural bars – they are amazing AND gluten-free! My favourite are the almond and apricot.

In addition to changing my food intake, I am also now taking lots of supplements.

CoEnzyme Q-10 – to support cellular energy production

High strength Vitamin B Complex – to support normal energy yielding metabolism and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue

Magnesium – to strengthen bones and energy production

Zinc – to help the function of the immune system

(all from Holland & Barrett)

So where am I at now? My aim is to make smoothies every morning for the next month or so, adding other more nutritious ingredients, and see where I’m at health wise after that. I just want to add as much fruit and veg to my diet as possible to give my body the best chance of healing. I’ve only been doing this regime for a couple of weeks, so I hope that in a further few weeks I will start to see some benefits! I will keep you posted!

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