Does Chronic Stress increase the intensity of Chronic Pain?


I wanted to delve into something that’s been forefront of my mind recently.  The role stress plays on our pain.  Granted, stress is a tricky thing to avoid.  No matter who we are, our circumstances, sooner or later something is going to trigger our stress response. 


chronic stress leading to chronic pain cycle
Diagram: Stress to pain cycle.


Despite how difficult this is to admit, we all have varying tolerance levels for stress.  Something I find stressful (i.e.: MOST things…annoyingly I’m a stress head by nature) may be just a drop in the ocean to you and vice versa.  I’m not sure who said it or where it came from but; “our own problems seem huge, because they are our own” really does hit the nail on the head.  Maybe it’s because it’s difficult to take a step back with our own issues, to give ourselves the luxury of clarity.  Ever feel like you’re great at advice but can’t for love nor money, apply such rationale to yourself and your own circumstances? 



What a cruel rule of thumb that is?! 



When it comes down to our own stressors, I liken it to being unable to see the wood for the trees.  It can quickly and easily spiral; we can become completely consumed by the stress itself, making us incapable of seeing past the initial trigger to envisage a path through it.  Not without least fretting over it first, over thinking it and a shit-tonne of *{INSERT preferred vice HERE} in a vague attempt to ease and relax ourselves and to be rational.  Or is that just me?




Admittedly, my tolerance for stress has steadily declined, at first correlating with the progression of my illnesses and now, in conjunction with my management.  I’ll explain; for obvious reasons, as my health deteriorated, it was hard to think about anything else, I’m sure you can relate to this.  Everything else seems to pale in comparison, especially when – not only are you dealing with the illness and the myriad of symptoms, but all the questions surrounding it and what it means for your health and future, and last but not least; the waiting, the appointments, the long list of specialists and investigations you have to go through before they even give you a name to what is plaguing your every waking moment. 




Understandably, I think for most of us, any ‘typical’ life stressors have the potential to tip us over the edge.  After all, the daily stress that comes with battling chronic pain or illness can be quite debilitating, so anything “typical” can act as the straw that broke the donkeys back.  When we work so hard attempting to manage our condition, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and even spiritually; it’s like juggling 10 balls at a time, so the slightest knock and we drop [at least] one ball.  The trouble is, this doesn’t go away.  I thought once I had a diagnosis leading to a treatment “plan” I’d feel an obvious relief and my resting stress levels would relax a bit.  But it’s always there; maybe just under the surface but it’s there.  It becomes all the clearer how close to the surface when you’re faced with something unrelated that then, tips the scales out of balance! 




You see I know I’m a highly strung person.  So since early on in navigating my diagnosis, I’ve been using various techniques to help calm, ground and quiet my [oftentimes] relentlessly overactive stressy mind.  Mindfulness, yoga, daily meditation and gratitude practices are great not just for stress, but also for your overall mental and emotional health.   I’m not going to sit here and pretend that these techniques are easy, fool-proof, take an hour to master and will completely eliminate stress and negative thought patterns from your life for good.  Neither of us are idiots so lets continue on the path of honesty here.  Yes day-to-day, meditation is my ‘go-to’ practice to try to keep myself as balanced as possible.  But, this hasn’t made me immune to the damaging effects of stress, especially certain types and when it comes out of the blue.




No matter how hard I try to stay positive, I’m still guilty of allowing negative thought patterns to creep in when I’m stressed about something.  Dependent on the trigger, stress can also evoke a “tunnel vision” reflex response from me, where I fall out of my very carefully devised management routine due to feeling totally consumed by the stressor.  For example, emotional turmoil can make my appetite disappear, so I end up eating at random times which then understandably, stimulates a domino effect, one habit falling and knocking down another, momentum building as more and more blocks fall until I have the strength to pick myself up again and realign all of my fallen pieces.  All the while, with each management technique that falls, I have to contend with the negative effects, both physically and mentally of allowing the pieces of my jigsaw to fall apart.  Such is life, the cause to effect ratio determines how far I spiral; dependent on the trigger, a combination of physical, mental or emotional elements, or all of these, are negatively stimulated – thus evoking an equal effect from the causation.  




I was discussing this effect with a friend of mine and she put me onto the term;


Allostatic load:



“Allostatic load is the ‘wear and tear on the body’ that accumulates as an individual is exposed to repeated or chronic stress.  It represents the physiological consequences of chronic exposure to fluctuating or heightened neural or neuroendocrine responses that result from repeated or chronic stress.”


Read the rest of this definition HERE. 



Click HERE to read an interesting study on Allostatic Load and the patterns of pain prevalence.  



I find this fascinating and I could read about it for weeks.  However, in the wrong hands I feel this information might not be in our best interest.  Especially for the Fibromyalgia sufferer in me; it’s still difficult to make people understand that it isn’t a psychosomatic illness or “all in the mind”, so if they don’t truly understand the concept of Allostatic load, I feel it’s quite open to misinterpretation. 




The difference with this is essentially: any normal stress response will disrupt your homeostasis, but when your stress responses – talking on a chemical level here – are persistently activated, as with chronic or frequent activation of the stress response (such as exposure to violence or trauma, poverty, war, hypoxia or low rank in a social hierarchy, to name just a few) results in overexertion of physiological systems which can accelerate disease progression. 



We all know that isolating a primary cause for a lot of chronic pain conditions is a pipe dream, generally and patient specific alike.  Yes I have “structural” issues so to speak (Spondylosis, prolapsed discs, Hypermobility, Endometriosis) which a good proportion of my pain is attributed to.  Now I’ve been learning about Allostatic load, I wonder, could this be a reasonable explanation for the speedy progression of my chronic pain, particularly at my age, but also, for the onset of Fibromyalgia and my Dissociative Seizure Disorder? 



Diagram: A visual representation of Allostasis and the cycle which can lead to Allostatic load. Showing how chronic stress can lead to and increase intensity of chronic pain.
Repeated episodes of Allostasis increase Allostatic Load.


So if we talk about Allostatic Load as a potential cause, from what I’ve read it is quite a valid point, however uncertain.  From my own experiences, reading all the studies and the physiological effects that chronic-stress can manifest, in my mind it all seems quite plausible, if not definitive considering my life leading up to illness.  But let’s leave that ugliness for another time!!



So this leads me up to why I was pondering this stress to pain correlation in the first place.  I’ve basically had a bout of acute stress in my life, one that for me is one of the big ones.  It brought so many things with it from sleep deprivation, inappetence, lethargy, my fatigue was through the floor and my pain levels were through the roof.  I won’t even touch on my emotional state through this! 



I dropped a few of the balls I was juggling and from there they all seemed to keep crashing down again no matter how hard I’ve tried to balance myself and regain control.  The best I’ve been able to do is to take each day as it comes, achieve the small things I can in those days, prioritizing the things I know will help me get back on top of this, both emotionally and physically.  Listening to my body and whether I like it or not, acting upon what I hear. 



For me at least, stress plays a massive role in the management, or not, of my conditions.  Not just with the physicality of the pain levels, but also in how I can mentally and emotionally deal with my life and the pain that comes with it.  When stress strikes, there are certain measures I take to try to minimize the physiological effects it has on me:


♥   Meditating – This helps me reconnect with my body, to ground myself into the present and relax myself as much as possible.  Whether you’re stressed or not, introducing daily meditation practice is invaluable to your self-care.  If you are new to this, I know quite a few people who use apps to guide them, particularly in the beginning (there’s an app for most things these days isn’t there?!).


♥   Journaling – My mind can go bananas, flipping from one worry to another, over-analyzing and making any situation a whole lot worse.  I find journaling, pouring all these thoughts out onto paper, very therapeutic! It helps me rationalise, put things into perspective and generally lightens the load.  It’s something that I’ve been doing since my teens.  I suffered with quite severe insomnia and journaling was one of the management techniques given to me that stuck over the years.  Day-to-day, gratitude journaling can seriously set the tone for your entire day – even if it’s just one line, write down whatever you feel grateful for in that moment, it can literally be anything.


♥   Reading – for me when it comes to self-care – nothing is better than getting as comfy (as possible) and losing myself in a really good read, by far my best remedy to turn my anxious side OFF.


♥   Audiobooks for sleeping – I find that if I try to read at night, it has the potential to keep me awake, as I get easily enthralled!  But an audiobook (this sounds super childish but it works….) is like having a story read to you in a soothing calm voice, which also doesn’t require any lights on!  I find it quite conducive to setting the atmosphere for sleep!


♥   Hot baths and pampering self-care….nails, a facemask, anything that makes me feel a bit pampered and thus a bit more relaxed!  More often than not, I turn to a combination of all these tips I’m sharing with you; I might run a bath, pop on a face mask and soothe myself in the hot bubbles whilst reading a book, get out and stretch with the lingering heat of the water, meditate then make myself a nice refreshing and hydrating freshly made juice!


♥   Nutrition.  Nutrition.  Nutrition.  I just can’t emphasise this enough!!  Feeding your body good nutrition helps with all aspects of this, from fatigue, to pain and even your mental and emotional wellness.  It is so easy to turn to food as a comfort in times of difficulty, but this is when good nutrition is MOST important!  Disregarding beliefs for a moment; being mindful of your plant-based intake will seriously help, giving your body the natural fuel it needs to perform at it’s best, physically, mentally and emotionally.


♥   By far the most important: try to find reasons to laugh.  For me, chatting with my tribe, the awesome friends I’m lucky enough to have in my life, always works wonders to calm me (the fuck) down!  Equally (sorry girls haha), being entertained and adored by my beloved Puglets, gives me so much comfort, day-in day-out.  They keep me company, warm, they make me feel safe at night (yeah ok they’re pugs…but they really do lol)   My fur babies are everything to me, and I owe them everything, they’ve kept me going through all of this, been my constants, my cheerleaders (holy crap……they need cheerleader outfits…HOW CUTE would that be?)…if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll understand the amusement!  But take advantage of whatever works for you, finding reasons to smile really does work wonders.


♥   Lastly, taking things slow. This can awaken my inner judgmental bitch, so I try to keep her reigned in as much as I possibly can – the last thing I need at times like this is her sticking her two-penneth in!  Eradicating the delicate layer of self-worth that I cling to!  When negative thought patterns like this arise, where your inner monologue is berating you, STOP and wonder, would you say these things to anyone else? It’s a tactic that I find helps me to keep my thoughts in check!  After all, thoughts can create your universe, so take every step to make them good ones!


At the end of the day, without studies or any medical explanations, I still know that stress does indeed increase my pain levels.  Not least because of the physical way the stress response manifests itself.  Also, the knock on effect it has by setting you off course can set in motion a cascade of events, all intertwining to send multiple aspects of your condition into decline.



Before I go;

I realized something a while ago, which I’d like to share with you.



Living with chronic pain is like knowing that each day, you have to submerge your hand into an open fire. 



Imagine that for a second. 


You have to go through with it everyday, but you can’t predict how much it’s going to hurt on any particular day; the fire might not be as big today as it was yesterday and is tomorrow, you may have burnt away all of your nerve endings so you won’t feel anything until it starts to heal.  You may be that raw, that just feeling the heat coming off the flames is enough to send you writhing in agony.  The lingering pain will affect what you can and cannot do; on some days it may just limit that one hand or arm, others it will completely disable your entire body, whilst also making you feel feverish and generally ill.  It will stop you from doing some of the simplest things because you know how much it’s going to hurt to do it, like a bath or shower, fixing your hair or getting dressed.  It’s a constant dread of the pain that comes that day and night.  And there is no escaping it.  Everyday you have to get up and brave that fire, no matter what.  You do not have a choice; it’s just the way it is. 



You may not be able to escape the fire right now, but you can do things to help yourself.  You can be gentle with yourself, know what remedies to use to ease the pain and to aid in healing.  Anything that will help you get through this time, until you find the perfect fire retardant glove that works for you.  Understanding and recognising your individual triggers for pain, will help you adapt and form coping strategies for when these triggers occur.  



Much Love,












Severe Osteoarthritis and Fibromyalgia:

A day in the life of Amy 

Severe Osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia
Diagram illustrating the structural damage that comes with moderate and severe forms of Osteoarthritis (OA) compared with a healthy knee-joint.


It’s the morning, and I’ve finally woken. Last night’s sleep was the same as always, broken and interrupted but I finally feel that difference in my body and mind that says I’m ready to rise. I look to my right and see my German Shepherd, Jake, has gotten onto the bed after my partner left for work. I take a deep breath, count to three and attempt to straighten and bend my left leg, followed by the right, repeating this until my tinman legs feel like I’ve oiled them somewhat. It’s excruciating, but I know this is the hardest part of the day and once I get moving, the easier it will be.



I should really introduce myself – my name is Amy, I am 29 years old and I have severe Osteoarthritis (OA) and Fibromyalgia.



Severe osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia
Illustration of severe Osteoarthritis in a knee joint. Displaying the issues it creates i.e. eroding cartilage, exposed bone, bone spurs and eroding meniscus.



Jake senses my movement and springs off the bed to stand next to me to help me get up, I grab his collar and he pulls. I find my balance, stretching to loosen up all my muscles and shuffle out of the bedroom, my movements resembling that of a zombie from The Walking Dead. I go about my morning as always. I have my arthritis tea and breakfast, all the while loosening up the joint and muscle stiffness that I am now so used to. It’s hydrotherapy day, so I grab heat packs, ice packs, my leg elevation pillow and set myself up on the couch to rest before my session. I am currently undergoing my final rehabilitation to regain the ability to walk properly.



You may be wondering why someone my age has such severe arthritis, so I’ll try and explain this as briefly as possible, so as to not send you to sleep.


In 2009, when I was 21, I injured my right knee at work. Though quite a mild injury, I was advised through worker’s comp to see an Orthopaedic Surgeon. I did, and he came to the conclusion that I would need a full knee reconstruction and realignment, quite an excessive surgery but I put my trust in him – (in medical terms an Osteotomy with a Lateral Release and a Tibial realignment). I underwent this surgery in July and partially recovered before my left knee began to play up, about 9 months post-surgery. It was clear my left knee went from compensating for my right, but I couldn’t prove it beyond reasonable doubt, so I returned to the same surgeon for advice, out of my own pocket. He concluded that I would need the same surgery on the left knee.



This one I never fully recovered from either. Shortly after surgery I started to experience a plethora of symptoms that couldn’t be attributed to my knees. My arms and legs would spasm, the most excruciating pain shooting through my whole body like an electric current. I would lose all feeling in my extremities and suddenly be able to feel them too much, throbbing and aching and locking up. I went to doctor after doctor, had scan after scan, and no one could tell me what was wrong. Eventually, a Neurologist diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia.



All of this combined meant that in April 2011, I had to quit my job. With no income, I attempted to treat my Fibro in addition to completing a full recovery from my surgeries… but it just never happened.



By 2012, there had been no improvement with my knees, in fact they had deteriorated so badly that I was unable to bear weight and was on crutches 24/7. I sought advice from a new specialist, who explained that the reconstructive surgeries on my knees had been carried out poorly and incorrectly, resulting in incorrect alignment and the loss of all the cartilage in both of my knees, leaving bone rubbing on bone. 23 years old with the knees of a 70-year-old, and being so young meant limited treatment options.



Too young for replacements, I underwent 4 more knee surgeries over the course of 18 months and was under review by the Orthopaedic Board (a board of 12 specialist surgeons). None were successful and in 2013 I was told nothing more could be done and that I would be crippled like this for the rest of my life (or until I was old enough for replacements – minimum 50 years old).



The surgeon who had done this to me lost his license for other cases of medical negligence, but it didn’t make me happy. I spent a further three years unable to walk at all, using crutches, walking sticks and wheelchairs. I had surgery on both of my wrists because I had damaged them so badly from overuse of crutches.



On a good note I was learning to manage my Fibro through diet and supplements and I was doing light exercise in a hydrotherapy pool, but I was miserable. By January 2016 I had decided I would find someone to operate and fix my knees, even if that meant going overseas. Through contacts that worked at The Department of Health Australia, I found a specialist surgeon for junior arthritis… in my hometown of Perth. He was here all along! In April 2016, I underwent a custom ligament and realignment reconstruction, that was a success. One year later in March 2017, I had the same done on the right and embarked on the most important rehabilitation of my life.



So that brings me here, having rested all morning and prepping for my hydrotherapy rehabilitation session, I slip on my bathers, pack my bag, grab my crutches and head to the hydrotherapy pool.


My favourite part of the day.


There’s Linda, Sue and Sandy – lovely chatty elderly ladies that welcome me with a big smile, Jim is with them – a larrikin that just had both knees replaced. Kerry, who has the same arthritis problems as me, tells me how far she is coming and how far I have come, giving me the best boost ever. Tom was in a severe car accident and doesn’t have the use of his legs or right arm, and struggles to verbally communicate. We play a few rounds of thumb wars, laughing like crazy… I never win because his thumb can dislocate. He reminds me that you really can overcome any obstacle, if you just smile and laugh. I get a hug from another patron, Lisa, who is non-verbal and confined to a wheelchair. I always give her a big smile and a hello, before also chatting to her wonderful carer. Lisa reminds me that there are people who have it so much worse.



After completing my program, I shower at the pool and head home, realising that if it wasn’t for my hardships I wouldn’t have met some of the best and strongest people I know – that I will ever know. By the time I get home I can barely move at all and the pain is crippling, I make myself as comfortable as I can and pop on a DVD. In a few hours, my partner will be home, my absolute rock, who keeps me smiling right up until I go to bed that night.



Though I know I will wake again tomorrow in horrible pain and I have a long way to go, I count myself pretty damn lucky to have what I have, despite everything.







Plant based nutrition for chronic illness.



Before we start delving into this, I HAVE to address the elephant in the room. Because it’s there, and no it’s not some cutesy ‘Nellie’ we sing a song about and dance around with, it’s an actual ‘crush you with one foot’, elephant.



So let’s just get this out there now so you can start disliking me from the get-go. Here it is: Like mine, your life has inexplicably changed. Like up on it’s ass, 180 degrees, faecal matter hitting the fan kinda changed, am I right? Right. Now, I’m not here to debate the why, the how, and the potential genetic malfunctions that have preceded this horrific injustice that happened to you, to me. I’m here to point out that whichever one of the countless illnesses that you’re plagued with, it all happened without you doing or changing a goddamn thing. You didn’t ask for this (at least I hope not?); you didn’t get bitten by some mutant spider and unlike Peter Parker, become some sort of mutant through your uncontrollable megalomaniac urges. No. It just happened. A lot of us will never know why. Not all illnesses have a truly defined and blanket cause. But here we are.



So then, my point…we’ve clearly established that doing nothing got you here, BUT (here’s the clincher) doing NOTHING will NOT get you out of it.






I know right, how unfair?? But still, it comes to a point where we all have to accept that we have to be proactive in order to gain some form of control over our own health. OK ok, I know we can’t lock ourselves in a lab and synthesize a cure, not my point. My point is, dwelling on it (admittedly this does have its place, but it should be reserved for momentous occasions, like Christmas themed crockery!) will not help one little iddy-biddy bit. Like, at all.



Consider this:



“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Albert Einstein


With this in mind, think about all the struggles chronic illness brings.   Now let’s really bring it down to its simplest form and apply the logic that repeating old patterns, expecting a different result, is actually insane. Hopefully like me, you quickly realize that the lifestyle you were living leading up to your issues, cannot and will not serve you now. Don’t get me wrong; we all know from early on that you’re forced to make changes. Things change massively all by themselves; work, activity and social levels, so it stands to reason that making conscious changes, with the sole purpose of forging a lifestyle that does serve you, taking into account your new limitations, is the priority.




If you’ve stuck it out this far, expect a gold star in the post. (Expected delivery time from 6 to 1 million weeks!!)



Now onto the nitty-gritty: After my last article introducing Kombucha for chronic illness, it’s necessary for me to talk about diet before ploughing on into the results I’ve had from my little experiment. Mainly because I don’t want anyone to assume that the fizzy fermented ‘champagne-esque’ tea has solely performed a miracle.



I’ve talked about nutrition in previous posts, but now I want to discuss some specific changes (prior to Kombucha trials) I’ve made to my diet, which I feel, have really made a difference to me, on so many levels. Like I said in my post “fibromyalgia is a jigsaw puzzle”, sometimes trialing complimentary [let’s call them] treatments, is as much about timing and order as much as anything else. (You wouldn’t start building a house without any skills, materials or tools for the job, would you?!  You’d wait until you had everything you needed!)  This will start to make sense I promise.



I’m going to cast back to January 2017 of this year. So at this point I was heavily withdrawing from analgesics in a major way, was researching and learning about my Microbiome and its detrimental effects on health, no matter who you are, an unbalanced Microbiome can wreak havoc! Despite the fact I wasn’t doing any crazy “detox” program, I knew overhauling my diet, after so long of essentially poisoning myself with such a vast array of medications, was going to be pretty hellish. I understood that I had to purge my body and almost reset everything, get myself back to zero so to speak.



After thinking it through, going back to my jigsaw analogy, I had to try and decide how to tackle this. Knowing that the best way to move forward with the health of my micro biome (and thus my overall health) was to get the scales firmly back on my side, or outweighed with good bacteria, if you want to get slightly more technical.



Best way to do that? A whole foods plant based diet.



Trust me, I’m NOT a Doctor, or a Nutritionist (or anything that has any semblance of weight in this debate, and most others), but what I am is a reader. I read a lot. I’ve researched, watched and read as much as I can get my hands on this last year. I’ve read from both sides of the coin, so that I can make the most informed decision; a decision that I feel will be the most beneficial for my health, my circumstances and me as a whole. The thing is with researching a plant based whole foods diet, you can’t avoid learning about all aspects; it’s not just a health matter, it crosses into ethics, environmental and even the economy.



In a nutshell, I’ve basically been bursting all the bubbles I’d held so dear my entire life to this point. I’ve said it before and I’ll gladly say it again; you can’t “unlearn” something. I now had all this existence shattering knowledge, and my eyes were open. What had started out, as a means to improve my health now possessed every part of me.


Now that my eyes were open, I had to do my part. Not just for my own health, which selfishly led me here, but ethically and environmentally. So what had once started with the idea of a whole foods plant based diet, evolved into Veganism.



“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” The Vegan Society

Read more from the Vegan society HERE.



Two birds, one stone, right? (Not literally because that’s not Vegan!!)



Bearing in mind, I was a meat-eater. I wasn’t vegetarian or pescetarian or any other variation that I potentially can’t spell, or followed any dietary “rules’ to minimize animal suffering. So I sought advice and support through groups on Facebook, namely “New Vegan Support” who have every question you might have, covered! Hooray for social media!!



I wanted to find the best way to do this transition that would be forging a new lifestyle, making it ‘stick’ if you will. I was reading about people going cold-turkey (pun not intended) and people transitioning over time by crowding animal products out. I knew that red meat, chicken, pork etc. wouldn’t be an issue; neither would milk, as I never drank it. But fish and specifically halloumi cheese, would take some will power. However, I was surprised to discover that these weren’t an issue for me either.



The biggest thing I felt that held me back in the beginning, was additives. You wouldn’t believe where animal products sneak up on you!! This is where building plant based habits, was going to eliminate the need for anything with “additives” to a large degree. But it takes time. Learning how to make interesting vegan meals, stocking your cupboards appropriately and creating new food routines. I’m not going to lie, initially it isn’t easy, not so much the exclusion of animal products, but the thought that goes into what you’re going to eat and how you’re going to make it. This is where for me; smoothies and juicing were my lifesavers in the beginning. Something quick and nutritious that I knew how to make made my mornings at least, effortless. Because let’s be honest, there are days with chronic illness where you just don’t eat, not if it takes any preparation anyway. Pain levels and fatigue can keep you locked out of the kitchen. Through this transition time, learning new techniques and trying to keep myself as plant-based as possible whilst also working within the confines of my pain, took more will power than giving anything up ever did. I had to completely focus all of my energy on researching the best things to eat, creating shopping lists and sourcing things I needed, and prepping meals in advance so I had something to turn to on those days where nowt is happening but being glued to my bed!!



This was my plan; to start crowding out all animal products, keeping myself as plant-based as my conditions and the physical limits would allow; all the while in the background, improving the health of my Microbiome. I’d say the worst of it was over in a month, so far as building a new routine and it all becoming second nature! It’s difficult because when I think back to my old lifestyle, feeling shame for not making this change sooner in my life, I can’t help but wonder; would I have had the motivation to learn, to open my eyes and to bite the bullet to make the change without being sick? From a compassionate point of view I truly hope I could’ve. Even with all I know now, would that have been enough or did I always need this selfishness, being backed into a corner with my own health to actually act upon this information. The worst question I’ve asked myself, now I know how nutrition literally affects every corner of our health; would I have ever gotten this bad, if my diet was in tune with what my body needed and craved? It really is difficult to ignore these nagging questions, especially as we all know we are what we eat…but I guess that’s the thing with hindsight!



We live in a time where there aren’t any excuses to be ill-informed. We have recipes, techniques and alternatives at our fingertips. Google much? I have the utmost respect for anyone that followed a vegan diet before the explosion of the Internet or when the choices were so limited if there even were any!! I mean seriously, how did they do it and make it exciting? Luckily for us we live in a time where you needn’t feel deprived. You can pretty much make an alternative for anything, even if you’re raw vegan plant based (although I do liken this to some sort of wizardry!!) so there really isn’t much of an excuse. You’d be surprised how much your taste buds change, how you start craving what would once be considered the weirdest of things, like kale and avocado!! Not even joking, completely true!!




The best bit; it actually works. Admittedly, I’m not cured, I won’t ever be. But the difference I feel is incredible. I notice a massive shift in my symptoms when I have a lazy processed vegan day. All the flu-like symptoms hit me like a bus. And I crave a good veggie juice, the way I would’ve previously craved Ben & Jerry’s!! My diet is much more intuitive now, I listen to my body; I know what she needs and what will make me feel better.



I’m vegan and I try my absolute best to keep my intake as plant based as I possibly can given my circumstances; but come on, we all have treat days…that’s when The Coconut Collaborative and their awesome dairy free range make an appearance, rightly so!! And my god, for those days ladies, where you’ve just gotta have SOMETHING, the vast vegan ranges these days are sure to hit the spot, trust me!!!



One more thing that is worth mentioning before I go; (ok maybe two, don’t judge me!) Since I’ve been trying to figure out the best things to help myself, knowing that the order can be as important as anything, coming off all medications (no matter how hard that was and how hard that can still make my life pain killer free) was absolutely the best thing for me to concentrate on as a first hurdle. From there, in my mind, it made total sense to try to fix and support my microbiome through nutrition, whilst also conveniently fighting my daily symptoms. What I’m trying to point out is that, the Kombucha trials I’ve done for example, may not have given me the benefits it does without having first tackled these first two things. I suppose it’s like those adverts that claim wonders but in the small print it states “as part of a well balanced nutritional diet”.  You’ve got to start from the ground up.  I truly believe this is the best way to accurately learn what serves you in your new lifestyle.



What I’d like you to take away from this, is to really sit down and think, make notes or journal, on what your goals are and how bringing them down to their most basic, may help you make the necessary changes in the most logical order to help yourself and have those efforts truly pay off. Seeing and feeling a difference when you’re slogging your guts off to help yourself, keeps that enthusiasm and motivation ignited. Let’s be honest, that can be half of the battle. So far as my path with plant based veganism, my motivation is simple, compassion. I want to live consciously with purpose, doing no harm to the beautiful beings we share this planet with. The betterment to my condition is a huge advantage; so is this newly found clear conscience around food. Something I’ve never experienced before and now I understand why!!


*At the time of publishing I had been strictly Vegan for 120 days.  Hell yeah!!!


I wish you all the luck in the land on your own journey.

Much Love,





Guest post

 by Dr Margaret Finlay BVMS (DVM) PhD.


Adventures in Nutrition


I had nearly 3 and a half years living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) before my husband and I moved to Los Angeles at the end of October, 2015.


After my diagnosis in May 2012 (around the same time as Jack Osbourne [son of Sharon and Ozzy] was getting his MS diagnosis – ALL the cool kidz were finding out about their incurable, degenerative neurological diseases apparently…), I was soon started on daily Copaxone injections as the relapses were coming thick and fast. I was, during the first tumultuous years post-diagnosis, variously taking 8 or so different daily prescription medications (Copaxone, Venlafaxine, Bupropion, Amantadine, Amitriptyline, Modafinil, Gabapentin, Tramadol and Tapentadol, and something for vertigo I’ve forgotten the name of) and there was talk of needing a walking cane for foot drop, and perhaps learning how to catheterise myself when I developed difficulty urinating. I tried progesterone creams and aluminium powders to try and stop the remarkably severe night sweats I was having.


After about 2 years on this rollercoaster, the symptoms began to settle down – some disappeared altogether, some settled down to tolerable ‘background noise’ levels and some, like the brain fog and soul-crushing daily fatigue remained a dull roar. I weaned myself off as many drugs as I felt able as I went along. At this stage in my evolution, I was a poster child for conventional medicine. My theory was that if you were broken in any way, either physically or mentally, then you just had to find the right drug that would ‘fix’ it for you.


My MS taught me that even the most cutting edge pharmaceuticals could not always address the symptoms I was suffering. Like Modafinil – used by the military to keep fighter pilots sharp while flying long missions, used in the treatment of narcolepsy – I was taking three times the recommended dose and still needed my mid-day nap. That usually lasted at least 2 hours…


An Aunt with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) mentioned to me that she had felt enormous improvement in her daytime fatigue by giving up gluten. I’m not gonna lie – there was a small snort and accompanying eye roll when I read her email about it – dietary changes weren’t what was needed here. I was PROPERLY sick. I had BRAIN DAMAGE. I needed PROPER medicines. In fact, because proper medicines hadn’t provided stellar results thus far, I was quietly convinced that my level of ‘broken’ was particularly serious and I really needed to get my hands on something like Ritalin (an Amphetamine) or something more high-powered in order to address my problems more effectively. But, in the interest of open mindedness, and because I Googled ‘gluten and neurological symptoms’ and found, to my surprise, that there is a lot of scientific evidence linking dietary gluten to symptoms such as brain fog and debilitating fatigue (two things that, now the worst of my physical symptoms had subsided, were making it impossible for me to think I could survive the day back at work (I’m a Veterinarian), I decided I’d try gluten free (GF) for a month. I was quite, quite sure I would be unaffected by my efforts and in 4 short weeks, I could go back to chowing down bread buns, cake and bowls of pasta aplenty.


Imagine my surprise when less than a week after going gluten free, I felt a gazillion times better.



I was sleeping less – about 7 hours a night instead of 9 – I didn’t need my daytime naps anymore and I started to look for part time work!


It was amazing. I suddenly became aware of the power of nutrition – an aspect of health I had thus far ignored. For two YEARS! As I told myself at the time ‘They were talking about self-catheterisation so I could urinate, y’all!!! This MS thing was slowly taking my dignity, there was no goddam way I was giving up ANYTHING else!!!’
Which, in hindsight, is an unfortunate way of looking at things. What indignities and pain might I have been spared if, at the time of diagnosis, someone had said to me “You know, you can really improve your quality of life and minimize the impact of this disease by making some actually-very-simple dietary and lifestyle changes.”? I’m quite sure the symptoms I experienced would have been less severe if I had made such changes – like giving up gluten – sooner rather than later.


Anyway, with the lightbulb finally going off (good nutrition = good health), I threw myself wholeheartedly into the brave new world of therapeutic nutrition. I’m not even sure it’s technically ‘therapeutic’ nutrition, it’s just NUTRITION! I was introduced to many an awesome quote such as;


“If diet is wrong, medicine is of no use (because it won’t be able to work properly); if diet is right, medicine is of no need”
– Ayurvedic proverb




“Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food”
– Hippocrates


I mean, Hippocrates! The father of medicine! This wasn’t just some new-age, organic, hippy-dippy BS, there was something ancient and logical and wise here I realised. My brain was on-board too. Up until this point I’d struggled in being able to stick to ANY diet – restriction soon became; So initially, I half expected that I might engage in similarly self-destructive behaviours, gorge on gluten, and end any of the progress I was making.


I needn’t have worried.


I think, because I’d felt SO very low while eating ‘normally’ (i.e. gluten heavy meals and snacks), and felt SO very much better having ditched the gluten, I became really quite averse to the idea of eating it. It was no hardship at all to avoid it. And here I am, over 3 and a half years later, and still very comfortably following a GF route!


My GF experience led me to really look in to the tremendous power of nutrition on our health. I came across the Swank and Wahls diets (amongst others) for MSers, and decided I’d give the Swank diet a whirl – followers are called ‘Swankers’ which made me chuckle. Swank and Wahls are quite different; one is a very low (saturated) fat approach (Swank), the other is more like paleo with a large amount of so-called ‘good’ fats (Wahls). Devotees of either can be off-puttingly devoted from my experience of various FB groups, but I’m really very sure both/either can work wonders for our health.


Having tried both of them for at least 6 months apiece, I found that a Swank-esque approach suited me best. I’m not a strict observer of the Swank diet rules for sure (I was initially, they’re pretty easy to stick to for the most part), but as a lover of the carbohydrates, I found this approach triggered less of a ‘restrictive eating’ diet mentality and I could incorporate it in to my eating likes fairly peacefully. Some people like the paleo, grain free approach – others take it a step further in to the realms of the ketogenic diet. There is a lot of research out there on the benefits of entering and maintaining a ketogenic metabolism (using ketones from breakdown of fats for energy rather than the glucose everyone else uses) – particularly for brain health. I tried it. Ben and Jerry’s had a good month. I.e. my brain did NOT, in fact, enjoy subsiding on eggs, mayonnaise, kale and butter, and rebelled against the rigidity of the lifestyle. By demanding ice cream.


The notion of Ben and Jerry’s reminds me of something else interesting. After I had given up gluten and was feeling so much better, I noticed that if I had a dairy-heavy day (had a Starbucks latte in the morning and ate a pint of fat free yogurt with fruit and honey and granola for lunch) I suffered fatigue and brain fog that evening and the next day. Dr Google provided me with evidence that shows dairy can have similar effects to gluten in some individuals. Cross reactivity of the proteins in some important receptors or some such thing. It’s the casein protein in milk apparently, not the whey protein. So I can add whey protein powder to my shakes should the notion strike me, with no ill effects at all.


So I limit my dairy intake these days. Not quite dairy free – I’ll have a spot of cream in my coffee and the odd bit of cheese, but I will *usually* go for the Ben and Jerry’s or Hagan Daaz dairy free offering and have non-dairy milk alternatives in the fridge.
I guess the take home message here is that good nutrition is the foundation of good health. And this looks slightly different for different people – there is no one-size fits all. It used to surprise me as I made my way on my own personal journey, how often people were willing to try different Disease Modifying Drugs (DMDs) for their MS, with all the associated side effects and serious health risks like liver failure and leukemia, but were not willing to try a dietary approach. Or do try one, don’t feel any better and so give up entirely.I’ve also realised that the drug companies do not want to cure you – why would they want to lose out on over SEVENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS a year (the cost of Copaxone alone)? A cure makes no sense to them – they are NOT looking to find one. But the vast majority of people still believe the conventional medical profession has their best interests at heart. Trust me, it doesn’t.
However, I also need to say; ‘Thank GOD for pharmaceuticals!!’. There were many times in the past 5 years where they have made my life bearable and I’m so very grateful to them for that. But, if I knew then what I know now, would I have needed them at all?


Back in the spring of 2015, a year after going gluten free and 6 months of Swanking, I began to prepare for my upcoming move to the USA (planned for the end of the year). The idea of paying thousands and thousands of dollars for healthcare made my thrifty, Scottish, NHS-loving blood run cold.


Hell to the no.


I slowly but surely started weaning myself off the drugs I was still taking and by the time the move came, I was completely drug free and feeling healthier and happier than I had in a long time.


Little did I know that my world was about to come crashing down around my ears, but I’ll save that story for next time 🙂



Dr Margaret Finlay BVMS (DVM) PhD

What is Kombucha?  


Let’s get the icky bit out of the way from the get-go.  There is very little in the way of scientific studies or evidence for any of the claims made by advocates of this fermented beverage.  From what I can gather, there has been a minimal amount of studies looking into the effects it has on rats, but there is nothing to suggest that these benefits are transferable to us.  Having said that, I think there is value in the unknown.  There is nothing to say that; the research hasn’t been undertaken because it isn’t warranted. I would imagine it’s more the lack of funding and demand to justify anything comprehensive.  Importantly, Kombucha is something you can easily make at home at minimal cost, so who would actually foot the bill or profit from such research?  Worth considering before dismissing it’s potential merits.  But hey, that’s just one girls’ simple opinion. 


Moving on…


Kombucha, put simply is the result from fermenting different types of tea (i.e.; green, black and white) with sugar and Kombucha cultures, specifically what they call a ‘scoby’. 


Scoby = Symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.


This is where my regular readers will understand where this is going.  If you haven’t read ‘Fibromyalgia and your Microbiome’ it’s worth doing so to understand my point with this, particularly as it ascertains to us warriors.  Considering I have been doing a lot of work on my Microbiome, with the belief that not only will this help me move forwards with my current situation, but most importantly, I genuinely feel like it’s an absolute necessity to long lasting health, regardless of what currently ails me.  Supporting my Microbiome has become somewhat of an obsession; so now I really need to ensure I’m re-populating it with healthy ‘probiotic’ bacteria. 


Your Microbiome is often called ‘the forgotten organ’ and it’s easy to see why.  We are becoming more and more aware of the importance of digestive health, in ways we wouldn’t have considered before.  With the research into links between digestive health: ‘your Microbiome’ and things as seemingly opposite as your neurological health, it’s no wonder we are all educating ourselves on what we can do to support this ‘organ’ that can have such a wide spread reach on your overall health. 


This past year as I’ve learnt more and more about this colony of bacteria living inside and on us; I’ve realized that here in the UK, when you think about our national dishes and our eating habits, as a majority; one thing we severely lack is regular and assorted fermented foods.  Do you include things such as sauerkraut, kimchi, or Kefir in your daily or even weekly routine?  The closest we get in general, is yoghurt.  Have you ever really sat down and thought about what it means when the label reads “live cultures”?  Do you make choices based on and conscious of that?  Or a yoghurt drink for the same reason?  Do you know that these live cultures/healthy bacteria, are seriously damaged by the pasteurization process?  I honestly NEVER thought about it.  I used to buy my probiotic yoghurt drinks on offer, never really taking much notice of anything else and not really sure why I was doing it, apart from the brain-washing ad campaigns that lingered in my subconscious, telling me they’re ‘good for me’ and as a loyal consumer subject, I would unwittingly shove them in my trolley, doing what I’m told by the mainstream and barely acknowledging that I was acting on behalf of some mega-company’s catchy and colourful campaign. 


I had heard rave reviews by fellow chronic illness sufferers on the regular use of Kefir.  How they found improvements with certain symptoms, albeit on a very individual basis.  Considering this, as I’m Vegan a) I will not drink milk and b) like as if the idea of milk isn’t bad enough, fermenting it turns my stomach!  So that took Kefir off the table for me, but I started to wonder, could I turn elsewhere for the same potential benefits?  


I can’t remember what I first saw about Kombucha that instigated my research into this living health drink.  But I was intrigued, so out came Mr. Google.  I was learning, the good the bad and the down right concerning, I’ll be honest.  But I couldn’t help myself from being drawn in by the idea of this “tea of immortality”.  So, I decided the best thing to do was to experiment with this myself, I mean, despite some of the so-called “risks”, which may I add, seem to all be associated with the at-home-brew being contaminated in some way; did I really want to dismiss it without even trying it?  I mean, the Chinese have been drinking this stuff for thousands of years so…you know, they didn’t die out or anything so it can’t be THAT bad, can it? 


Ok I’m going to level with you, one of the first things I did learn about Kombucha is that, due to the way it’s fermented, it is naturally carbonated, so depending on the variety of tea used, it was likened to sparkling apple cider, or champagne.  Need I say more? 


My entire knowledge on the fermentation of anything, was pretty much zilch, although in the back of my mind I was thinking; “erm…but alcohol though?”  Reassuringly I discovered that the yeasts do produce alcohol, but the yummy bacteria in the culture turn the alcohol into organic acids, so only negligible quantities of alcohol, typically 0.5-1% by volume remain in the kombucha brew.  Phew!!!  In honesty, my biggest concern was the caffeine content, as you know, I’ve given up caffeine and I didn’t want to break this despite my desire to trick myself into thinking I’m drinking champagne at day break. 


After a little further digging, I found that it’s generally accepted that the Kombucha brew typically contains a third of the caffeine content of which the sourced tea would contain.  That in mind, along with all the potential benefits I was reading about, I decided to plough forward with my personal experiment.  Ironically using Kombucha to try to undo the damage, some of which my black tar-like coffee addiction was culpable for. 


The more I read and learnt of the potential benefits, the more I was intrigued by certain claims I’d read, specifically for targeting problematic symptoms I (we) battle:


The probiotics heal the gut, which in turn, contributes to boosted immunity.


We all know the difference between good and bad bacteria.  But it’s not just probiotics in this fermented fizziness that supports digestive health.  It has high levels of beneficial acid, amino acids and enzymes.  There’s even some research, which has shown Kombucha’s ability to prevent and heal stomach ulcers.  It also helps candida overpopulation within the gut by restoring balance to the digestive system, with live probiotic cultures that help the gut to repopulate with good bacteria while crowding out the candida yeast!



Antioxidants help to detoxify the body and protect against disease.


In relation to both of these disease-fighting benefits, also consider that the antioxidants help to reduce inflammation.  Yes Please!!  So oxidative stress can damage cells, even down to your DNA.   Being exposed to processed foods and environmental chemicals are factors in causing this stress, which in turn contributes to chronic inflammation.  Granted, for the sake of our bank balance, standard tea does contain antioxidants BUT research shows that the fermentation process of Kombucha creates antioxidants NOT present, like glucaric acid!  Plus, an unbalanced and unhealthy Microbiome will promote inflammation.  So unfortunately that doesn’t mean you can increase your hot tea intake threefold and hope for the same benefits, sorry!



It contains Phytochemicals that have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, potentially promoting healthy Liver and Kidney function and reduce diabetic complications.


“Research from the University of Latvia in 2014 claims that drinking Kombucha tea can be beneficial for many infections and diseases due to four main properties; detoxification, anti-oxidation, energizing potencies and promotion of depressed immunity.”

What can I say, I was lured in by “promoting healthy liver function” so had to add this to my list of what to share.  I’m not going to lie; the thought of supporting my liver (a massive change from my 20’s) was quite appealing to say the least!!


 Rich in B – Vitamins and Folic acid, which is key for helping the body produce and maintain new cells.


Moving past the digestive benefits, it may also protect your mind too.  With the array of B – Vitamins it contains, most notably Vitamin B12 which is known to increase energy levels and contribute to overall mental wellbeing.



Granted I have literally just scratched the surface with potential beneficial claims here, but lets delve into these a bit more, specifically thinking of chronic illness.


I don’t know about you, but ever since I’ve been diagnosed with this elaborate list of illnesses, I have been entitled to a yearly Flu jab through my GP.  Honestly, it’s not something I’ve ever taken them up on the offer of, and here’s why:  You read so many stories, hear them first hand from family and friends, plus it’s a recognized risk, that particularly on your first dose; the Flu jab (understandably) can make you quite sick.  Obviously, not as sick as you would be if you actually had full blown flu, but such is the way with any prevention such as this.   For me, I have had Flu in the past, a very long time ago and the thought of getting even a small bout of it on top of my current struggles is unbearable.  Yes I’m taking a risk either way, but this is my point. 


I like to do my best to ensure that I’m mindful of what I put into my body, asking myself; will it serve me?  These days I ask this question a lot, most commonly with what I eat and drink.  So to finally get to my point; if I were to drink something daily which, not only contains B12 for my Vegan body, but also works to promote and support my immune system, potentially protecting me from having to battle against something else, albeit temporarily, surely that’s worth giving a whirl?


I’ve read that Kombucha has the ability to regulate the “communication of the gut-brain axis” suggesting that it could be useful in minimizing the effects of depression and anxiety.  With all the strains we carry, avoiding these symptoms is damn near impossible.  We already know the correlation between gut health and mental health but may I be so bold to go further and hope for an improvement in fog?  The more I read the more I really did wonder, with claims of energy increasing, digestive and thus mental health improving, would stand to reason these themselves whether directly or indirectly would have a positive effect on the confusion, fog and hopefully the volume of brain farts I experience daily. 



At the start of this post, I did mention that I wanted to experiment with this on myself, see what I noticed.  Now I planned this so I could try to document as best as I could, what I genuinely noticed improving or changing through a 3-month period.  Baring in mind our suffering goes through peaks and troughs, and; troughs buried under 3 feet of shite.  The unpredictability of it, actually being one of the only predictable things about it. I needed to try to really listen to my body so I could gauge whether this potent elixir was worth it.


I have conducted this experiment and we are now 4 months down the line.  I wanted to give you a taster as to what I’d been learning before bombarding you with seemingly random results. 


I will be detailing the effects I have experienced in a follow-up post so I can be as thorough as I can.  But for now just know, I will be continuing this newly forged habit of drinking Kombucha tea.


P.s. Arguably the most important point to leave you with today; I was totally sucked into believing I was drinking alcohol before breakfast!! Champers baby yeaaaaah!!


Much love,       










It’s about half four in the morning. I’ve been awake for the last couple of hours, reading in a desperate attempt to lull myself back into the land of nod. Despite my book being quite gripping, as usual I still find my mind wandering into multiple seemingly random directions, almost simultaneously. Then one thing occurred to me and I’ve been stuck on it. In a vain attempt to quiet my thoughts, I figured writing it down and sharing it with you good people whilst enjoying a mug of hot vanilla soya milk, might just do the trick. Worth a shot eh!

So I got to thinking about the Japanese tradition of Kintsugi; the art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum.   In itself, it’s a very interesting philosophy; the result of which is quite beautiful and forever unique. The concept is to treat breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to either disguise or render it useless. This being the limit of my knowledge on the subject, I decided to do a bit of digging. Mostly because, the idea of lavishing something that has disintegrated through trauma, being reborn embellished in such a bold and extravagant manner, speaks to the hopes I have for my future. The idea that these broken ceramics can become so individual and more beautiful by laying bare their flaws, accentuating them in a purposeful way, is a delightful concept to those of us who truly feel like we have and continue to break into a thousand pieces, day by day.

It’s worth noting, when this technique was first crafted, it was so revered that people were accused of deliberately smashing valuable pottery, just so it could be repaired with gold. I can’t help but envy this philosophy of embracing the flawed or imperfect, of illuminating the cracks and repair, accepting almost celebrating that it’s simply an event in the life of the object. How incredible would it be to live in a society where this philosophy leaks through to all aspects of life?

I don’t know what brought this technique to the forefront of my mind at stupid o’clock, but I couldn’t help but draw parallels between this and another post I wrote “Fibromyalgia is a Jigsaw puzzle”. This is how I see the path ahead of me, pieces of a much larger whole, which need to be meticulously rebuilt. I find the notion of rebuilding myself, illuminating the marks of wear, the cracks, the repairs quite liberating. How adversity, trauma, hardship can actually forge a type of unique beauty and strength I would never have gained if not for the fall. I’ve often thought about the potential hidden silver lining with all this. Feeling like I had to experience this, to be broken down to my most vulnerable to learn something, to get me where I need to be. That may sound crazy to some, but I think twisting this on it’s head, thinking of what I may have to gain, something that I could never have grasped or even contemplated before, really feeds the hope and positivity in me. These ideas are what keep me fighting, experimenting, picking myself up and sharing my journey.

I think my analogy here is easy to grasp. Imagine yourself as a smashed piece of pottery. You now have the opportunity to reassemble yourself in a unique, beautiful way. Remember that no matter how broken you feel, how many cracks are on show; you can choose to rebuild yourself the Kintsugi way. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. What matters is that you embellish those imperfections, wear your proof of life like jewels on a princess. At the end of the day, we are all the sum of our experiences, so wear yours with pride and honour. It’s the least you deserve!!

Much Love;



Vegan Strawberry & Peanut Butter Smoothie Recipe:

By Adeana


I don’t know about you, but I just love experimenting in the kitchen.  Especially when it comes to throwing things together in an almost random but necessary manner.  We all know what it’s like, we are nearing (or waaaaaay overdue) our next food shop; looking in the fridge to see only random ingredients with no idea of how to make something half-healthy.  There are a couple of things I do to ensure there’s always a way to make a delicious smoothie at home, no matter whether I’m in need of a Friday big shop or not.


1: I keep peeled and halved bananas in the freezer.  Bananas are a staple for me, but I make sure I keep my frozen stock topped up.  Because I tend to buy a lot of bananas at a time, if I haven’t managed to munch through them all before they get to the point of having black spots, I peel and freeze them before they can get over ripe.


2: I always keep AT LEAST two other varieties of fruit in my freezer.  Usually its’ berries, whether it’s Strawberries, Raspberries or Blueberries.  That way I have something sweet to add to any smoothie I may throw together.  Aldi is great for buying frozen berries such as this at a reasonable price, (I find other supermarkets more expensive price per gram) but, I do like to keep my eyes on the Whoopsie sections in the supermarkets (best nearing the end of the day) and pick up fruit that is reduced.  As soon as I get my shop home, I prepare the fruit and bag it up in zip-lock bags and freeze.


3: I also tend to freeze things like Mangoes and Watermelon in cubes.  Mangoes in particular is one I would buy when reduced, so they don’t tend to last long.  Freezing them ensures they don’t go to waste and I haven’t wasted any cash.  BONUS: I also like to add watermelon cubes to a jug of water and keep it in the fridge.  It not only acts as ice cubes but adds flavour to your water!


What you will need:

  • High powered blender or smoothie maker
  • Melon baller (optional to recreate as pictured above)
  • Chopping board and a knife


Smoothie Recipe:

1 small ripe banana (can be frozen)

100grams Frozen Strawberries

3 heaped tbsp Gluten Free Oats

1 tbsp Chia Seeds

1 tbsp Smooth Natural Peanut Butter 

(I love the Meridian varieties!  I’m so obsessed with it that it’s cheaper to buy in the 6kg tubs!!)

Vanilla Soya Milk to desired consistency

(I use the Alpo UHT Vanilla Soya milk which is another one of my obsessions!  But you could easily use any dairy alternative milk and either leave as is OR add 1/4 tsp Vanilla powder or 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract.)


1 Dragonfruit

1 Fresh Fig

Desiccated Coconut (for dusting)

*** The reason I’ve stated “milk to desired consistency” is because it depends how I want to enjoy it, as to how thick I want the smoothie to be.  If you want to drink it, if you’re on the go, add a little more milk, if you want to eat with a spoon topped with your favourite fruit, nuts and seeds, hold back a little with the milk to give it a nice thick yoghurt type consistency!***



To make the smoothie, add all of the ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth and pink.  


            It should begin to look like this:             


At this stage you can either drink it up and enjoy or, transfer into a bowl and top with your favourite fruits, nuts and seeds.


as I did…


Optional Presentation:

Cut your Dragonfruit (Pitaya) in half from top to bottom.




Using your melon baller, hollow out each half of the fruit, leaving the pretty pink skin in tact.








     Slice your Fig into eighths.










Using the two hollowed halves of your dragonfruit as bowls, spoon the smoothie mixture evenly into each, leaving a half centimetre lip at the top to avoid overflow once you add your toppings.  

Carefully place a selection of both the balled dragonfruit and the fig pieces into the smoothie and dust with desiccated Coconut.  Eat immediately.  


Nom nom Nom!! 

I hope you enjoy this quick and easy smoothie as much as I do.  It may not be the greenest creation, but it sure hits the yummy spot!!  I’d love to see yours, so either leave me a comment below or tag me on Instagram @crispy1984!!



Much Love, 







Do you ever feel like people on the outside really don’t understand your chronic illness.  That they can’t fathom that the foreign word you’ve uttered to them might mean utter devastation to the life you once knew?  I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had which go something like this:


Them: “Heeeey, I haven’t seen you for ages, what are you up to now?”

Me: “Not a lot really.  I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder, Fibromyalgia and spinal issues a few years back so I’m not doing anything exciting.”

Them: “So where are you working now?”

Me: “I’m not able to work at the moment, I’m trying to navigate and manage my illness around my new found limitations.”

Them: “Oh.  Don’t they have medication for that?”

Me: “Erm well yes, but it’s very complicated unfortunately.”

Them: “Well you look well, I’m sure you’ll be back to normal and working in no time.”

Me: “Sure.”



Sound remotely familiar?  I know I have high expectations to hope that one day, someone I come across may understand that when I say I have a chronic pain condition, their response shows that they identify with the severity of my plight.  Until that day comes, I will try my best to educate those people, whilst also trying to be a voice for, and to, those of us in the know.  To say the things we think, the things that plague us and make living with this that little bit harder.  To connect us through brutal honesty; what I write about here is meant to reassure you that there are people out there who understand your fight, your worries, your grief.  I lay everything bare here, in the hope that it may bring you a modicum of comfort.


Ok, so I’m about to hit you with something quite controversial…


Disclaimer; Anything I am about to say is in no way meant to offend or diminish the suffering of people on the opposing side of this comparison. Despite the fact I have clearly just used the noun ‘comparison’ I’m not actually intending to compare, not literally. It’s an observation on how outward perceptions differ surrounding a given diagnosis. I’m sorry if this seems to be a naïve and stereotypical blanket opinion of how any given persons’ situation, battles or support are perceived. I will explain myself so please, if you’ve gotten this far, I’d love it if you’d humour my ramble a little longer!!


Seemingly off topic, but this will start to make sense, I promise…


So tonight I decided to get comfy on my bed with the dudes, sort through a bit of paperwork whilst idly enjoying a Netflix treat in the background. Suffice it to say, my intentions were ultimately thwarted by my choice of film. The idea that the film was for noise in the background was somewhat idiotic of me. Of course I’d ignore what I planned to do to watch Joseph Gordon-Levitt in all his glory. Who wouldn’t?! Anyway, one of my all-time favourites with said hottie, is a film called 50/50…seen it? No? Right ok, I’ll sum it up for any of you who may have forgotten the gist, those of you who haven’t seen it…SHAME. ON. YOU. So Joseph Gordon-Levitt (lets refer to him as JGL for the sake of word count) plays a character in his late twenties who is diagnosed with a rare form of Spinal Cancer. The film obviously revolves around JGL’s medical battle with this hideous illness and more poignantly, his emotional and psychological status as he tries to navigate his way through; diagnosis, treatment and juggling the needs of those around him and facing more than his fair share of personal hardship. All the while trying to masquerade from the horror of his likely impending death, at a tragically young age.


I know, I know; where am I going with this right? Well the film got me thinking. This isn’t the first time I’ve thought along these lines and there is a very select few people I’ve been able to make this controversial stance with in person. For anyone reading this, I can almost guarantee that you’re a chronic illness sufferer, with most likely one of the many so-called “invisible illnesses” that plague a huge proportion of people. (Maybe you’re a supportive friend or family member, trying to learn in order to better understand and ultimately, help as best you can. If that’s you, bravo!)


Let’s start with this; think about the last stranger you had to tell about your diagnosis. Doesn’t even have to be a stranger, because honestly, there’s rarely a call for that. So maybe someone you haven’t seen for a long time, an old friend or colleague for example. Picture their response, or lack of? Did they know what it was? Heard of it before? Knew what it really meant? As in how it has genuinely affected all areas of your life? Can you picture their response…ok good.


Now imagine you told them you had cancer.


Forgive me for saying this, again, I am in no way trying to diminish their suffering or think that I (we) suffer more. My point is the outward perception we get from others in comparison. I want to also clarify here that I’m not suggesting this has anything to do with levels of received empathy. I’m not sat here having a tantrum because I want sympathy. A pity party is not what I’m getting at here. What this all boils down to is understanding the sheer magnitude of the multifaceted battle a Warrior faces each and everyday. I want to be a respected, independent, functional member of society; whilst also carrying off a level of immaturity way below my years but which also serves to paint me as a fun-loving, one-off quirky yet determined individual who knows laughter is one of the best medicines; at the same time, scaring you a little bit, for reasons you can’t quite fathom, but which is highlighted by my impressively fierce resting bitch face.



Anyway, my point, we are immediately at a disadvantage by the name, stigma or understandable ignorance to what ails us. The category of “Invisible illnesses” seems to be growing by the decade, but despite the abundance of titles there is one overriding characteristic they all have in common. They are a kin to icebergs.  What you see barely equates to a tenth of the sheer magnitude of issues being dealt with.  This is before you add into the equation how a chronic illness extends its’ impact through to loved ones; husbands, wives, children.  Inevitably causing a ripple effect throughout your close social network.  Understandably, they are also plagued with the stigma and misunderstanding of your illness; they don’t get recognition for what they go through caring for a person who suffers daily, or how this massively impacts on them, socially, emotionally, mentally, physically; inevitably, they are left misunderstood and unsupported too.



I’m obviously using Cancer as my example (but there are countless others), which is understandable; try to find one person on the planet who hasn’t heard of, had or been touched by its’ life shattering destruction. As a species we know how to react to it. We know the severity, from the psychological aspect of coping with a diagnosis, not just for the patient but also, for family and friends. We understand the complexities and unpredictability of treatment. The lack of guarantees. The fear component, which brings a darkness to every facet of life; family and relationships, work, social and not forgetting day-to-day capabilities, physically, emotionally and mentally. We understand how harsh the treatment is, breaking your body down to zero and bringing a thousand unwanted symptoms knocking down your doors. We know Cancer comes with a million unanswerable questions, a path that must be walked blindfolded. We all have a semblance of knowledge when it comes to treatment protocols, from chemotherapy and radiation, to surgery. Each one plaguing the patient with; “what if’s”. Will this work? What would we do next? How can I live my life through the sickness that inevitably comes with breaking your immune system down to zero? Loading your body with treatments which are otherwise extremely toxic. Ultimately, I can only imagine what torturous thoughts and questions go through the mind of a cancer patient, but I’d stake a high bet that one of the biggest questions to ask is; Will I get through this…..Will I beat cancer?



With that thought firmly placed in your mind, ask yourself this…What is the biggest, most important question you’ve asked yourself with your own diagnosis that goes (for the moment at least) unanswered? I’ll be perfectly honest with you, without meaning to sound unnecessarily dramatic, but for me it is; “will I get through this?” I apologise, I know it is not the same thing. I know my condition isn’t terminal and again, I am in no way trying to trivialize the horror that is cancer. But in the same breath, I’d like to defend my reasoning. I may not have been given a “stage” or guestimation on life expectancy, but my life has irreparably changed. I will carry this for the rest of my life and one way or another, have struggles because of it. I believe that the severity of my struggles will go through life’s expected peaks and troughs, but I will still have to be more mindful than most when it comes to truly taking care of myself. So I implore you, does the lack of finality of my diagnosis alter how circumstantially, the losses I’ve endured, the treatment, the fear, the pain and suffering and not least, the questions, mirror that of something which is much more culturally accepted as devastating, like Cancer.



I’ve got to admit, chronic illness takes a lot of discipline to emotionally and mentally navigate. To see the road ahead of me as an adventure, to be in line with who I am and who I need to be, to forge a future for myself of living, not just one of existence. To trust myself and my strength, my determination to succeed and my stubbornness to carry on. The alternative is to see devastation. To be consumed by fear, grief and negativity in such a way that the only visible future is one of hardship, continuous pain and fatigue, discontent and adversity. I point-blank refuse to lower my expectations of life. I will not lead a mediocre existence.



Society needs to understand that the battles we face are not a choice. That a title to an illness, “Fibromyalgia” for example, does nothing to explain the never-ending list of debilitating symptoms sufferers battle day and night. This is true across the spectrum. We too have a list of symptoms that are hard to count. We are also plagued with pharmaceutical side effects that make you question their efficacy; whether the benefits out-weigh the new struggles you face. We too wonder whether our entire lives will be a constant minefield of pain. Will we get through it? How can we live through it, maintain a job, support ourselves, love ourselves enough not to give up, to know we deserve better, to keep fighting.



Pain is a notoriously tricky beast to tame.  Its subjective.  A whole host of additional factors can increase or decrease its intensity.  Emotional and mental well-being, diet and lifestyle, general life stresses, even menstrual cycles can affect not just your tolerance levels, but the volume and spread of it on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.  It’s individual.  An analgesic which works for me may not work for you.  Medications come with side effects which may initially decrease the pain it was prescribed for but unfortunately, cause 10 other issues which inevitably result in an unexpected increase in the original trigger.  Side-effects can be absolutely debilitating.  Like me, leading you to question which path forward is the most productive.  It’s not an easy thing to evaluate, not just for ourselves, but by medical professionals who are just trying to interpret the information we give them and treat accordingly.  There is no true clinical way of measuring pain levels.  There is no “ECG” for pain signals and intensity for diagnosis, then treatment.  A Dolorimeter will measure ones pain threshold and tolerance, but it doesn’t give you a number out of 10, which in turn then conveniently points a physician down the correct route for treatment.



I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I feel there is too much of an emphasis in today’s world on listening to respond, rather than what we should be doing, which is listening to understand. That is true of nearly all-verbal communication. Whether it’s between the greatest of friends, lovers, or the worst of enemies. Listening to understand, to summon your compassion, is the recipe for success in most situations. I mean, I’ve read enough crime fiction to know that we have hostage negotiators proving this point time and time again…may have just foiled my argument there but I’ll carry on regardless. So to sum up this epic rant I’ve been on; first and foremost, have compassion. You can never truly know another’s’ path. Whether your married, in a relationship, kids or not, we all walk this path alone. Nobody in this world knows what it is truly like to be you. To feel the things you feel. To have been shaped by the experiences you’ve had and to carry those memories inside you, the good, the bad and the ugly. Treat people how you want to be treated. You don’t know what battle they face as much as they don’t know yours. Your unique set of circumstances, which have led you right to this page. To wherever you are now.  It’s important to remember that your experiences don’t diminish someone else’s, as much as theirs don’t diminish yours.



Things will always be different for me, for us. We all have our own set of unique circumstances, obstacles and demons to live with, no matter who you are. None of this defines us. What defines us, what makes the differences between living a fulfilling life, is how we meet these challenges. It doesn’t matter that we fall, it matters that we pick ourselves up, each and every time. Stronger than before.



We may not “look” sick, but if you could see it, you’d never judge or doubt us. For me, all I want is respect. I don’t want sympathy or pity. I want you to truly understand that I’m doing the best that I can. Respect the trials I face, knowing how much strength it must take to walk a mile in my shoes.  Until the day these chronic conditions are socially accepted for what they are, we must support each other, whole-heartedly.



Much Love,




Chronic illness tip: 
Remind yourself how far you’ve come!


Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of just how far we’ve come!  Especially when we’ve allowed our inner bitch to rant and rave at our so-called shortcomings for too long.



A year ago I was pumping countless pharmaceuticals into my body. Thinking that the array of nutraceutical’s was actually helping me counteract some of the side effects of these medicines. The thought of being without analgesics was a pipe dream. Something that could only happen with a cure to what ailed me. I couldn’t imagine the sheer magnitude of pain I would be in without my four hourly codeine, my massive dose of Pregabalin or the relief of naproxen. But look at where I am now. I have been medication free since 29th November 2016. This year so far, has flown by in a heartbeat. So I’ve never stopped to acknowledge the length of time I’ve been without the crutch of analgesics. It’s not easy. Don’t get me wrong. You inevitably take steps back, because at the end of the day, I have a chronic pain condition, multiple in fact. But I haven’t so much as taken a paracetamol. Not for any of my aches or neurological pains, nor for a crippling headache. I decided to feed my body instead. I made the decision to give my body her best chance of coping and with any luck one day, overcoming this, just by being mindful of the nutrients I give her. What I put in my mouth inevitably means the difference between living and existing, between coping and falling apart. I have to remind myself that, I have a lot of making up to do. The damage caused, the imbalances due to the concoctions of medicines I’ve been taking, need to be healed. I have more work to do than when this all began. I am backpedalling in a sense, but that’s ok.




I watched a program recently, featuring a woman with fibromyalgia, ME and Hypothyroidism. A doctor spent extensive time with her, essentially living with her for extended hours. To get a real sense of how she lives, how she’s coping if at all and how he could potentially help. She was unsurprisingly, on a multitude of medications, suffering debilitating fatigue and just fighting through everyday. Familiar? What surprised me was that this doctor’s advice, to help improve her quality of life, was to make drastic changes to her lifestyle. If you watched the program you’ll know what I’m talking about. But his argument was that mindfulness, a healthier diet (cutting out processed foods and refined sugars) and reducing her dependence on pharmaceuticals, would make a difference to her level of daily struggle.




I tell you what, never have I watched a program like this and smiled to myself. I haven’t had this support or suggestions from a medical professional involved in my care. The things I have done, result from countless hours of research, reading and refusing to accept the “take the pills and deal with it” mentality I’ve had from doctors. Honestly, my medical care has been complicated; it is for all of us. But what exacerbated this for me was transferring my care from the south of the country, to the north where I’m now residing. My GP here actually said to me that, I had to just come to terms with the fact that this was my life now. This was his response in 2016 when I went to talk to him about the increasing incidences of neuralgia, the debilitating exhaustion, the inability to leave the house for days on end, leading into weeks. The lack of sleep, the frustration, the side effects, the sheer inexplicable cocktail of symptoms that just made my life, hell. He told me I had to accept that’s how it was for me now, that accepting that would make it easier. That I just had to make the best of it. Well then. Luckily for me I’m a stubborn S.O.B. I won’t be told what I can and can’t do and I’m CERTAINLY not going to “settle” for an incomplete life. For an existence that doesn’t resemble living. So, to that doctor, I’m sorry for the disrespect, but FUCK YOU! I WON’T settle. I won’t stop fighting to be better, I won’t let you delude me into thinking that if your pharmaceutical solutions don’t solve my problems, that that’s the be all and end all of the matter. I WILL learn, I will investigate, read and experiment my way to better health, despite your tunnelled, out dated views on health care.



(It’s a good job I’m not a vlogger…a video of me speaking/yelling that rant would have seemed on fast forward!!) 



I choose to remind myself – this battle, it’s a journey.  There is no way to predict where this will lead me or you.  Don’t look forward to the future thinking “Where will I end up”, there is no end.  Just continued development and growth.  Choose to whole-heartedly believe that no matter what trials you face today, you are stronger and wiser than you were yesterday, a week ago and years into your past.  No matter how bleak it may seem, this is NOT your final destination.  Life is not about an “end goal” or a “destination”.  It is a rolling road that twists and turns and forks.  Sometimes you will be winning, sometimes it will feel like you’re losing, but that’s ok. It’s just the balance of life.  At the end of the day, the most control you have over…. well anything really, is how you choose to react to it.


Think of it this way; we are always changing shape, for years we may be a square, so we learn to put ourselves through the square hole and all seems hunky dory with the world.  But then one day you wake up and you’re a triangle, yet you still try to fit yourself through that square hole.  When that doctor said I had to accept my circumstances, to me, what it really means is, accepting change.  Accept that a triangle can only fit through a triangular hole.


My body changed, I changed, so I have to reshape my life so I can fit in it.  Yes it’s different, but different doesn’t have to mean hard or bad.  I have accepted that I will, in my lifetime, continue to “change shape”, so I choose to roll with it, to make myself amenable and excited for the unknown that change can bring.  Let yourself get excited, If not now, when?  After all…



“You will never be as young as you are right now”

Neil Pasricha



This journey will forge strength in you that you never thought possible.  You are a goddamn Warrior!!  Hold your head high, pop those pills, slap on that magnesium oil and shout out to the universe, “I got this. BRING IT!!!”



Much Love





Your five-a-day and your Health.


It’s all very simple, yet we are all (mostly) guilty of living a provincial existence. At least to some extent, where true nutrition was concerned, I definitely was. Until, something like Fibro knocks you on your ass (as it did me) and gives you a massive wake up call and smack in the face; to sort that shit out!!


So then, lets look past getting your five a day; how many of us actually do, regularly, honestly? I don’t mean lets eat twenty a day, I’m sure none of our waistlines would truly thank us for that. But lets look at how we can all include more nutrients in our diet. Even for those run-around people, this is valuable information. It’s not just the chronically sick that can benefit from a wide range of fruits and vegetables in our diets!


The importance of your five-a-day for minimizing disease risk:


Let’s just clear something up before we start; juicing is NOT ‘healthier’ than eating whole fruits and vegetables. For one, we are losing the healthy dietary fibre. When we make juice, we are obviously extracting the liquid, which does however, contain all the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients or plant chemicals (I will be covering these more in depth later on) but leaves behind the pulp, the part that contains the fibre. Having said that, juicing does make these nutrients easily absorbable, not to say that we don’t need dietary fibre. It’s important to realise that for the majority of us, our digestive systems have become impaired from a lifetime of making less than optimal food choices. Whether it’s purely dietary related or whether you have a chronic illness, or even stress, which further impairs your body’s ability to digest (read more about digestive issues in the post Fibromyalgia and your Microbiome & Chronic illness tip; cut out the caffeine) it’s worth noting that juicing your veggies, essentially “pre-digests” it for you, giving you a better chance of absorbing more of the goodness. Think of it in terms of having an intravenous health boost.


There is so much that you can do with the pulp left over from juicing. I’ve used it in my smoothies, to make freezable dog treats for the dudes and you can also use it in a variety of baking recipes. It doesn’t just have to go to waste!


Now then, lets further clear something up; yes, we need dietary fibre, BUT it’s worth remembering, some vitamins and minerals are damaged by cooking, so eating them raw, is in fact, better for you so far as nutrient intake. So, despite the fact that you’re not technically gaining anything by juicing your veggies rather than eating them raw, how often would you potentially eat your five portions a day, let alone eat them raw? Most of us, only consume 3 of our 5 a day recommended intake of fruits and veggies, with 1 in 5 of us barely eating any at all. When you look at it like that, juicing is a great way to start to introduce more of the good stuff into your diet, especially if you’re regularly having smoothies and other veggies in your diet to make up for the fibre deficit in your juices! So technically, provided you have more of an emphasis on vegetable juices, green juices’ as is the rule of thumb, then you’re on the right track, as your consuming them raw, in terms of vitamins and minerals. Plus, lets not forget that you can only physically consume so much in a day; no one would actually consume 8 carrots and 4 parsnips before breakfast!! But juicing makes that possible!

So what can you gain from juicing…

  • Increased water intake.  Simple but essential.  Fruits and vegetables have high water content, and by juicing them you’re not only increasing your water intake through something yummy, but it has the added bonus of vitamins and minerals.
  • Vitamins and minerals minus the fibre, can be absorbed in the most efficient manner and in quantities you’d struggle to consume whole.
  • It becomes so easy to add a wider variety of plants to your diet.
  • Promotes weight loss.
  • Increases energy and boosts your immune system.  Feeding your body an abundance of nutrients, and keeping your pH balanced, makes you feel energised.  Because juicing enables these nutrients to be utilised by your body immediately, it’s like having a caffeine kick in a morning!  Raw juice also contains biophotonic light energy which can help revitalise your body!
  • Supports brain health.  There is a lot of research citing the connections between gut health and brain health.  One research study claims that drinking raw fruit and vegetable juices three times per week, reduces your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 76%.



Right then let’s talk a bit more about these lovely nutrients. As I’ve said, your getting an array of vitamins and minerals from your plant based foods. What you’re also getting is phytochemicals. This is something that is still being widely researched, but we are aware of at least 4000 phytochemicals that occur naturally solely in plants. When I say plants, I’m not just referring to salad; it includes all whole foods, everything from fruits, veggies, grains and beans. We need to educate ourselves on these phytochemicals and what benefits they have for us, they need to be as well known as the most common vitamins; as the benefits we already know about, can have an astounding effect on our health. The research into these phytochemicals is suggesting that they work synergistically with vitamins, minerals and fibre in these whole foods, to promote good health and lower disease risk. Nature is friggin awesome!!


Of what we know so far, phytochemicals may act as antioxidants, protecting and regenerating essential nutrients and potentially working to deactivate cancer-causing substances. If you’ve read The China Study, or watched any of the many health documentaries on Netflix, this won’t be new information to you and the research behind this is astounding!!


When you think of antioxidants, we know that they protect our bodies against the damaging effects of free radicals, the unstable oxygen molecules in our bodies that attack healthy cells and transform DNA. Then when you consider that the mutation of our DNA in our cells, can lead to the development of cancer, under the right conditions; increasing our intake of whole foods with antioxidants, is a no brainer. This topic is covered in so much detail in the aforementioned amazing book called The China Study, I fully recommend reading this book as it will truly open your eyes about how everything we eat becomes part of us, the good and the bad!


From there, it nicely leads us onto metabolic regulators and hormone modifiers, which do wonders for our health. As the name suggests quite clearly, these phytoprotectants regulate our metabolism and the latter, works to keep our hormone levels nicely balanced. The reason this leads on nicely from the cancer protecting properties of antioxidants, is because, some cancers’ known causation is an imbalance of hormones in the body. As for metabolism regulation, the benefits of that are clear, we all want a healthy stable metabolism!!


When you really think about it in terms of us, with our heavily medicated delicate, painful bodies, how likely is it that these pharmaceuticals are taking control of such things; our metabolism, our hormones, in such an unnatural way. They upset the very clever balance, of how our vessels should be naturally supported by the whole foods our beautiful planet has to offer. Nothing does a better job, than nature.


Unsurprisingly, the most expensive vitamin pills CANNOT provide the same health benefits as the real thing. The nutritional diversity of whole foods provided by our earth, is far from being understood, so it stands to reason that even the most “complete” supplements fall short of matching the sheer complexity of fresh fruit and vegetables in terms of disease protection.


I mean seriously, if we don’t know all of the phytochemicals offered in these plant-based foods, how on earth can we begin to replicate that in a supplement pill?? Let’s stop embarrassing ourselves by trying to “out do” nature, the notion is down right preposterous once you get into it!!!


I know I’ve been talking about this in a rather general way, but consider this; if there’s research to suggest that plant-based eating can essentially ‘turn off’ the progression of cancer, why wouldn’t it have a massive benefit for us, for what we’re dealing with now?! My knowledge on nutrition is limited, granted, but just knowing and putting to use these small little things all adds up. Adding turmeric root to a juice for an anti-inflammatory effect; using bile movers such as beetroot to ensure your bile ducts don’t become congested, as this can also cause pain in the body. All these little things add up. Like I’ve said before, it’s just a jigsaw puzzle. These are just little pieces that will one day make up the whole.


For all the things we do to try to combat our daily struggles, this is for sure, the easiest and most enjoyable change you can implement today. No waiting for your pain to become that much more bearable so you can take that gym class, or waiting for the fog to clear so you can crack the first chapter of your epic novel. No waiting required. And it helps, it truly does. So your pain won’t go away in a day and you won’t wake up a stone lighter, but you’re loving and nourishing your suffering body. Your body doesn’t want to struggle, as much as your mind tries to tell you you’re against each other, its bull.


Something I’ve learnt along the way, which to be fair, took a very long time to truly sink in and take on board is; our actions MUST be in line with our beliefs. That goes for your hopes, your dreams, everything. You must bring yourself in line with all the things you want for your future. Want to be better? Healthier? Not in pain? A normal life? An energetic boundless adventure of a life? Start living that way now. No matter what it is that you want, you have to accept that to get there, your actions need to reflect your dreams. You wouldn’t wish for a toned slim body and eat burgers and fries everyday, would you? This is no different. You want your body to heal, to do what it is capable of, so treat it that way.

Your body is created to do miraculous things, feed her so she can!


Much Love,




Nutritional healing:


I guess you could say that it all started for me in early 2016.  That’s when I first started researching the use of nutrition to heal.  Thinking that I couldn’t even consider doing something as drastic as plant-based, I started focusing on all the information out there regarding added sugar.  I was finding literature linking artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame with either the onset of, or incidents of flares amongst fibromyalgia patients.  The more I read the more I was convinced that going sugar-free was going to help me reduce inflammation and with any luck, pains – at least levels of.  I was successfully completely sugar-free (not counting natural sugars such as fructose) for about 4 months. My problem came when I tried to eliminate Gluten along side it.  Having already given up most flours already, I thought it would be easy.  Hahahahaha.  That’s all I have to say about that!!



Anyway, I did feel better during my time sugar-free and most of the principles it taught me, stuck. I think the biggest difference I saw was in my fatigue. When I look back on it now, I realise how it started the habits and knowledge of more whole food options and alternatives. As luck would have it, it’s been a good foundation for what I’m doing now, in as much that my pantry is already pretty much stocked appropriately and I know what to do with these previously foreign ingredients. Bonus.


Most importantly, I had a wealth of smoothie recipes in my arsenal, which has been a staple for me over the past year, and in turn, led me to research the differences between juicing and smoothies. On my recipe hunts, I would come across all these yummy sounding juicing recipes and I wondered whether I should add this into my routine, what were the benefits of this over my morning smoothie? As it turns out, it’s a beautiful combination. It’s not particularly that one is better than the other; at least that’s how I’ve taken it. The principles are the same, but with juicing your cutting out some of the dietary fibre.



For me, I’ve found that I’m consuming more nutrients by juicing, alongside my smoothies. Quite honestly, a smoothie will fill me up so much, I haven’t got room for more than one a day, but with the addition of juicing, I feel I’m increasing my vitamin, mineral and antioxidant intake exponentially. The one thing I am conscious of is making sure I am making juices with plenty of vegetables. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s all about having a fresh orange juice every morning. Experiment. Play around with recipes you find, make them your own. Aim to get your juicing leftovers to look like a rainbow!  You’ll soon be putting together yummy juices and feeling a whole lot better for it!! You’ll be pleasantly surprised how different even your favourite fruits and veggies taste when juicing, for the better! My top tips for beginners:


1: There is a massive market for juicers now. You can pretty much spend as little or as much as you like. The main thing that you need to know is that; there are centrifugal juice extractors and masticating juicers or cold-press juicers. Now cold-press juicers yield more juice and the fact that they’re slow juicers, means they don’t heat up the same as a centrifugal juicer, meaning less incidence of damage to those nutrients your hoping for. Having said that, during my grueling research when buying my own, slow-juicers within my comfortable price range, weren’t getting the best reviews. I didn’t want to over spend on my first juicer, as let’s be honest, it’s an experiment in lifestyle. I wanted to be sure it would become a daily part of my routine before breaking the bank! I bit the bullet and went with a centrifugal juicer, which was given rave reviews. It was a steal at £35 and I haven’t looked back!


2: When your researching juicers, my biggest tips on what to look for would be; ease of cleaning is ESSENTIAL! The last thing we need is something complicated to take apart and clean, so check it’s also dishwasher friendly, for those bad days, when feeding ourselves high nutrients is EVEN more detrimental!! Look for something with a reasonably decent sized chute, the less chopping and prepping you have to do, the more likely you are to stick with your new-found love. Lastly, take note of the jug size; they’re easy to fill when making a fruit and veggie cocktail! Other than that, trust the reviews, you can’t discount real-life experience with a product.


3: Not sure where to start with your search for recipes? Think of your favourite veggies, get yourself on google and go from there. You’re obviously more likely to instill this in your daily habits if you enjoy what you’re making. Find just 2 or 3 recipes and stock up as required.  As a side tip, if I see something on offer or reduced in the supermarket, I get my ass on google and search, “strawberry juice recipes” for example, then I can pick up anything else I may need whilst I’m out!!


4: Stick to organic, not only will it taste better, it’s also much better for you. I made the mistake of buying regular carrots…wow-did it taste different, even the colour was less vivid! Lesson learned!


5: Don’t be afraid to omit or add to a recipe you’ve found. I’ve found that celery in particular, can be quite an overpowering flavour, for my taste. Usually if a recipe calls for more than one or two stalks, I’ll either replace it with something like an apple, or just go with less!  


6: I have tried refrigerating and freezing juices, but to me they’re never the same. I like to make mine fresh when I want it and drink straight away.  There’s plenty of debates out there regarding the loss of nutrients as the fruits in particular, oxidize.  Some people say to drink straight away to get the best out of it, others say the loss is negligible.  I’m inclined to believe the former, as to me, when I’ve experimented, the taste difference is massive!


7:  Over time, your taste buds will change. Invite that by trying new things, things you might not have necessarily eaten or liked before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised I promise!


8:  The biggest piece of advice I can give you, is to have at least one easy, go to juice that you can have on a flare day.  Something that takes no prep, with potentially just one or two ingredients.  When the pain, fatigue or any of the countless symptoms is playing up, it’s even more imperative to get that nutritional goodness.
 For me, it’s carrot juice.  I always make sure I’ve got carrots in stock so that, on a bad day, I can still muster up just enough energy to whizz them through the juicer.  I don’t peel or chop them, most of the time I don’t even wash them, depends on how they look really.  Even then, they’re just getting a quick rinse.  It’s got to be quick and effortless.  The longer I spend in the kitchen, stood prepping food, looking down at my chopping board, the worse my neck can get on any day, but on a bad day, it takes all but minutes.  Be kind to yourself and remember, just a small amount of effort on these bad days when all you want to do is stay in bed, will pay off dividends in the long run!



A smoothie bowl and a fresh juice in the morning is my staple, it really does set the tone for the rest of the day. Occasionally I will have a second juice in the afternoon, as a pick me up, as I don’t drink coffee or any caffeine anymore, remember?! LOL


Before juicing, I would drink my smoothie, like a normal person.  But as you’ve probably noticed by the pictures (especially if you follow me on Instagram.) I always have my smoothie in a bowl now, topped with a combination of nuts, seeds, fruit, whatever really.  The main aim here is to get my digestive juices flowing.  When you’re having a smoothie and a juice for breakfast, essentially liquified foods, you want to make sure you’re activating your digestive fire and creating an optimum environment to assimilate nutrients.  Chewing is the first step in digestion, not only does your saliva play a massive role in digestion, but it also sends signals to activate your entire digestive system.  So, having something to “chew” in my smoothie, definitely helps with this process.  I even steal little bits of fruit/veg/seeds as I’m making my smoothie and juice, so the process has started before I even sit down to eat it.  I realise now that having a smoothie and just drinking it, isn’t giving me the best opportunity to really make the most of the goodness I’m ingesting.  




It’s amazing really how much can change in such a short space of time. I’m sure we are all acutely aware of this, it’s the nature of chronic illness, it can change everything. But it’s also true of the other end of the spectrum, not all change is bad. I have to remind myself of how far I’ve come over the past year. How many habits I’ve changed for the better, how many obstacles I’ve overcome, how much I’ve leant and most importantly, I really feel like I’ve grown as a person.




I’ve built new life habits, carving a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle for myself over the past couple of years. The knowledge I’ve gained in so many areas that used to just live in my inquisitive overactive nighttime brain, I’ve now been able to research and delve into, that in itself, has been a fabulous journey. I’m so thirsty for more information. It gives me a newfound sense of excitement about where my journey will lead me.   There is still a long way to go for me, a lot to learn, but I can’t envisage ever quenching this thirst I have to expand my understanding of the world I now find myself in. It’s important to hold onto these passions and inspirations we have, it’s the most important fuel of hope, to keep us going, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other.


Much Love














Clean Eating for Chronic Illness.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food –Hippocrates

Before I start delving into my journey, I want to cover some of the basics. Some of the blindingly obvious truths about our typical western diet and lifestyle that have completely changed the way I feed my body.


This is not a new concept. You may already be Vegetarian, Pescetarian, Vegan or Plant-based and already know all of this. To me, I knew to a degree as I think we all do, but didn’t follow. Let’s be honest, plant-based goodness is no mystery to any of us, had your 5-a-day yet?! But for a long time I didn’t feel I HAD to change. As awful as that may sound.   Our Society is ignorant (for the majority) to the Animal Welfare argument and unfortunately, it’s doing nothing for our health. We value taste over ethics, price over goodness and habit over longevity. I’m guilty of it and paying for it.


My need for convenience and speed has led me down this path I’m now walking. As odd as it may sound, I’m thankful. Without this life altering assault on my body at what I like to tell myself is at “such a young age (LOL)”, has forced me to investigate, to learn, to pull back the veil over my eyes and see things as they really are, with an open mind. So yes, I feel guilty and shameful for my ignorant and selfish actions to this point in my life. I took it for granted, making blinkered food choices solely focused on ease, taste and affordability. How wrong was I. These things I now know, I can’t un-learn, I can’t un-see the “behind the scenes” devastation of Animal Agriculture. Without sounding like I’m minimizing the terror and suffering occurring on such a massive scale to these poor defenceless beings we consume, it does in fact, reach so much further than this. The argument has so many folds it’s hard to count. From Greenhouse gases, deforestation, ocean dead zones right through to carcinogens on our plates and antibiotic resistance in our future.


Did you know:


Raising animals for meat produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transport sector.


That 750,000 pus cells per milliliter are ALLOWED for milk to be considered fit for consumption and sale.


That the World Health Organisation classifies processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen-the same group as tobacco smoking, asbestos and plutonium!


What the actual effy-Jeff…


How has Medicine moved so far away from the their most revered oath;


First do no harm – Hippocrates

Having said that, if you’ve ever been curious to discover the updated version of the Hippocratic oath, you may have snuffed as much as I did at the section, which stated;


“I will prevent disease whenever I can but I will always look for a path to a cure for all diseases.”


*You can read the original and the updated versions in entirety here:


For us plagued with chronic illness, it’s laughable – for the most part. Prevention and cure hhmm, more like medicate and forget.


In honesty, what gets me most is the “prevention” aspect. Don’t get me wrong, of course there’s prevention strategies. Vaccines are an obvious example. But when you start to delve into this world, reading about the hundreds of studies linking diet to a multitude of chronic illnesses, the majority of which, are our leading causes of death. When these studies span at least six decades, all pointing in the same direction, the correlation between animal products and our biggest killers; cancer, heart disease, diabetes. It’s easy to start to question WHY. Why isn’t there more of, if any, emphasis on the role of diet in health? Why is diet not considered a preventative measure for Heart Disease? Why are we advised to eat in a manner that profits the meat and pharmaceutical industries but not our wellness? It all boils down to money.



Just consider the fact that 80% of pharmaceuticals are sold to Animal Farmers. Even the World Health Organisation says we are nearing a post antibiotic era in medicine. That’s frightening. All these drugs, from antibiotics, antifungals, steroids and hormones (just to name a few) that are fed to the animals we then eat, accumulate in the dead animals tissue, moving up the food chain for our consumption. Is that cheeseburger really worth dying of a simple infection, one that for so long, has been easy to treat? The day may very well come.


I genuinely believe that one day, we will see an omnivorous diet in the same light that we do smoking. The evidence is there, has been for decades, but we choose to ignore it over our dripping beef burger scoffing habits.


There is so much information out there on this subject, I’ve only touched on a couple. The volume of health ramifications warrants another blog post; no doubt I’ll be touching on this subject a lot as I move forward. If this has wetted your appetite to find out more, don’t forget that we live in an age where information is literally at our fingertips, we just need to be willing to look, but more importantly, open to change. Remember, if you don’t change anything, nothing changes.


I for one, will be taking the lessons learned so far, putting them into practice, not only for the countless compassionate reasons, but selfishly, for myself, for my health.


I want and need to nourish my body, not punish her…


Much Love



Here goes…I’m prepared for the fact that this post will undoubtedly divide the nation. Don’t worry; I was once where you are. Protesting those ‘caffeine dissing’ nut-bags. You see, I’ve always known that there are clear benefits to the occasional brew, more so when it’s high quality, fresh and organic. No brainer right? There’s even studies which suggest that coffee consumption can reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s, just to throw one health benefit out there. But here’s the pincher, are we all adhering to enjoying in moderation, and the aforementioned quality of what makes it into our favourite mug?! Or are we just chugging down our eighth cup of the day, whilst mumbling incoherently about our health induced reasoning for adding that extra espresso shot………”I’m health conscious damn it, I’m reducing my risk of Gallstones!!!”


So, I want to share with you some of my practices, which, for me, have helped to improve my fatigue, at the same time having secondary effects of reducing my woe with other irritating daily struggles too.  The more I thought about this, the more I realised that a) I’m not an expert at the notion; “why use 3 words when 1 will do”. B) I’m northern and we have a tendency to a1) chew your ear off and b1) not know when to shut up. (I think I’ve accidentally proved all my points with that paragraph-ooops) So, I realised it would be best to separate my tips into stand-alone Blog posts; otherwise, it’s likely to rival War and Peace, albeit in slang.


Before I begin, referencing all future posts of this nature, whether you have tried some of these hacks, are a dab hand, or even better, you want to add to them, I’d love to hear your feedback on what works for you.  Let’s share the wealth and help one another to get back to a more fulfilling life.


Let’s begin by cutting out the caffeine.  


Ok, okay, I hear your concern, gasps at the shear horror and that glimmer of a tear.  Trust me, this took a long time for me to accept.  I have to add in here, that I wasn’t just a come a day, go a day caffeine consumer, but a “don’t even look at me let alone attempt to converse with me” kinda coffee drinker.  That was my vice.  Coffee.  Black.  Like tar.  No matter your vice, whether it be tea, coffee or one of the many variations of caffeine fuelled soft drinks and energy drinks, let me tell you… they lie.  You may feel that initial kick, but how long is it before your shuffling to the kettle or the fridge to partake in another dose of its zing?  It is all a farce.  You’re not feeding your body with a nutritious fuel to help you get going.  Quite the opposite, particularly for us sensitive sufferers.  You could be inadvertently feeding your insomnia, anxiety and stress levels and most importantly, having an adverse effect on your already suffering Digestive System.  Let’s face it, very common factors throughout the chronic illness spectrum.


I’m as guilty as they come where coffee is concerned. I could easily consume into double figures a day. This links back to my post “Fibromyalgia and your Micrbiome” as it wasn’t until I started my research and work with that, that I discovered some of the damage I was either causing or, ‘adding fuel to the fire’ with my black-tar addiction. It was without fail, the FIRST thing I did in the morning; kettle on, eyes barely open, let the dogs out, drink the magic, steaming elixir AND breathe.


Trouble is, once you learn something; whether its read or seen in person, you can’t UN-learn it! You can’t catch your partner cheating and just forget about it, having no emotional response. It was the same (but clearly not as dramatic) when I started delving into this topic of caffeine and how as it turned out, he wasn’t my friend and cheerleader after all!! Part of me wanted to rewind. I read something that felt all too familiar, my jaw dropped, ‘OH NO, coffee is making it worse”. I genuinely thought to myself as I digested the obvious words in front of me,  can I just close the browser and pretend I didn’t just read that?! Erm, nope. Not possible.


So, brace yourself Warriors, I’m about to drop some truth bombs. There’s no going back from here…


Now you know my previous coffee-loving routine, imagine my horror to learn that; when you drink coffee on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning, you’re stimulating Hydrochloric Acid production. Seems harmless right? NO. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or as a meal replacement, drinking coffee to induce this HCl production can actually make it difficult to produce enough HCl for necessary digestion. This is particularly prevalent when talking proteins. If you lack the required amount of HCl for protein digestion, these foods can pass into the small intestine before being broken down properly. You don’t need to do any thorough research to discover that undigested protein is associated with a whole host of health issues. Add to this the fact coffee is a laxative, stimulating peristalsis and promoting gastric emptying BEFORE necessary digestion and nutrient absorption; it’s no wonder we rattle with our nutraceutical intake!! For me, IBS being a keen player in both my Fibromyalgia and exacerbated by the irritation of my Endometriosis, the last thing I should be doing is putting more unnecessary stress on my digestive tract. That’s before I even delve into the malnourishment side of the debate! Knowing what we know now from the endless research into the Microbiome, the health implications of having an unbalanced and unsupported network, how could I continue with my morning ‘pick me up’ after discovering the potential damage I was causing.


Onto Acid Reflux and Heartburn. I’ve suffered, (well suffered is a bit strong a term, more of a nuisance really) with this for many years, but it’s an irritant that seemed to get worse with the evolution of my chronic issues. The correlation between my illnesses becoming unbearable, leading to giving up work and the increase in coffee consumption is a clear cause for why this minor issue seemed to become a daily annoyance. Furthermore, heartburn and reflux seemed to trigger my costochondritis, which would painfully linger on way after the initial catalyst had disappeared.  What I was unaware of before is that coffee relaxes the esophageal sphincter, thus allowing the contents of your stomach to come back into the esophagus and burning your delicate lining with HCl. Unfortunately, this does cross the border into all caffeinated drinks, as it’s thought that caffeine is known to be responsible. The bastard. From this your initial saving grace could be decaffeinated.


I’m going to let that hang there for a while because I’m about to burst your bubble. Sorry. Although I’m unaware of proof (please correct me if I’m wrong) but there are researchers that believe there are other compounds in decaf coffee, which also contribute to acid reflux issues. 


I know, we can’t seem to catch a break can we!!


Quick survey; how many of you supplement the likes of Vitamin D, Magnesium, Iron? If you think this conversation was painful to this point, you may want to make a brew now before your views are irreparably damaged. I would easily class myself as a heavy coffee drinker. I don’t know the accepted definition of the term but I think it’s an easy assumption to make. I have been supplementing my Vitamin D and Magnesium at particularly high doses for a couple of years now (amongst others). Making use of Epsom salt baths and transdermal magnesium oils to help alleviate some of my muscular pain. Imagine my horror to discover that coffee affects iron absorption in your stomach and in particular, your kidneys ability to retain calcium, zinc MAGNESIUM and other important minerals. Dagnamit. This is the last thing we need. We are as a majority, already magnesium deficient. All those well researched and expensive supplements essentially going down the drain.


Ok. If you’ve made it this far, take a deep breath. I’ve got one final and arguably one of the most important points to make. Living with chronic illness is HARD. Disregarding the physical for a moment and talking about our mental health and well-being. We live with daily assaults on our emotions, from one end of the spectrum to another. Keeping it remotely together some days is an impossible feat. You know where I’m going with this. We all know how coffee can give us that energy kick we so desperately need at times, but do you realize how and with what consequences? So, when you get that increase in your heart rate (for me on a bad day it caused sickening tachycardia and palpitations, but I’m not going to dwell on that for the moment!) after your 5th yummy cup’o’Joe, in the background, stress hormones, cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine are released. They are your “fight or flight” response. We’ve all heard of that. These chemicals increase your heart rate, blood pressure, diverting oxygen and nutrients to your muscles to enable either a fight, or a flight response to danger. But, for what they turn up, they also turn down. It’s basic biology that during a potential threat situation, all non-essential functions take a back seat. Digestion is one of them. Disturbing your digestive health once again. Not to mention the “stress” effects of igniting this “fight or flight” chemical assault. Feeling jittery much? From here it’s no massive leap to consider the wider effects this has on our emotional wellness. Keeping your body in a perpetual stress cycle, inevitably having a knock on effect to your mood. Like we need something else to throw us off balance!!


Now then, what you do with this information, whether it’s new to you, a reminder or old and obvious news, is entirely up to you.  I hope you take a little more time contemplating what will best serve you, as I have done.  I have been caffeine-free for a few months now and it’s nowhere near as bad as what I thought it would be, so don’t despair.  Do what’s right for you, whether that’s to eliminate it completely, as it was necessary for me, or whether you’re just going to intermittently replace it with a refreshing, fruity, caffeine free herbal tea.  It’s all up to you.  It’s no quick fix or cure-all, but it’s a step in the right direction, a piece of the jigsaw, for me I’m sure of this.  Whatever your view, just remember to show yourself love, nourishing and fuelling your body in a loving way to move forward.  You’re a Warrior, you got this!!!


Much Love



You don’t have to have a chronic illness, for the worlds perception of you, particularly through social media, to be seen through rose tinted glasses.


Some truths.


So it’s 11am on a dull and chilly Friday morning. I’m dressed, but not in a socially acceptable form. I threw on what I had on last night just to let the dogs out when I got up. My hair is still in yesterday’s greasy messy bun, all the messier for it and I haven’t had a wash yet. I’ve literally just fed the dogs, boiled the kettle and sat down thinking of how social media posts portray us in a manner which is so unlike true life. The irony of filters is not lost on me. I’m guilty of it. We all are, for the most part. Our best moments go on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, whichever one is your vice. I may post my “smoothie bowl” healthy breakfast; What I didn’t post was the fact I didn’t eat again until 7pm because I just couldn’t muster the energy or will to prepare anything. I don’t post the fact that I was up for 3 hours in the night, unable to sleep from symptoms (initially facilitated by Franks “poo alarm” going off at 2am may I add!) that I’m now acutely aware of due to the inconvenient but necessary disturbance to let my disabled dog out!


I may post cute vids of training with my dogs. What I don’t post is that I’m using this to satiate them until I’m awake, pain controlled and energised enough to walk them. In a technology era, where all information is literally at our fingertips, not only are we sold “snippets” of news in the media, we do it ourselves, on social media. It’s like a job interview. We hide who we are and what we are actually doing in an attempt to portray ourselves in the best light. What are we truly gaining from this? Likes? Followers? We have the ability to be so connected with each other, with the world nowadays, but we are less connected. How has this happened? I’m relieved that I am lucky enough to have close friends I can share all the “packaging” bits of my life with, face to face. The bits that don’t make it to social media. The stuff that makes up the bulk of my existence. 


Take my Instagram account for example. From that, you’d think I spent all my time, eating (not entirely untrue lol), walking the dogs and doing something creative. It’s laughable really. How can I post about the hours I spend in distress because of my illness and the knock on effects of that? How can I post about loneliness, feeling inadequate, guilty, the pain? How can I use my Instagram account to portray the reality of my life, that I am living day by day, hoping with all my might for the future but at the same time, scared shitless? These platforms just aren’t geared for that. I can’t pretend that I really want them to either. The accounts I follow, I do because they either inspire me, make me laugh or coo! That’s why we spend so much time in the cyber world, it makes us feel good, as long as we don’t sit and compare ourselves, that shits depressing!! 


So in a way, this blog is my outlet. My truth section, the packaging. This is where you get to hear the bits inbetween my posts on social media. The truth behind some of the glossy photos. Tell you the truth, it’s absolutely LIBERATING!! 


The only trouble is, there is a flip side. You guys will understand this. I’m either revered as “coping” on social media, OR seen as lazy, milking it, or worse, a charity case by those in my life that don’t understand and quite frankly, don’t have a lot to do with me so really don’t know the truth of the matter in either form or exaggeration! To me, I feel I reside quite firmly in the middle. Yes I have days where coping is an up hill battle. Days where despite knowing my reasons for seeming this way, I see how people can perceive my actions (or lack of specifically) as lazy. But I do my best. I try with everything I have to keep positive and unfortunately, social media plays a huge role in that, in me feeling like I have achieved SOMETHING. It has its place, I can’t deny that. It’s hard to remember the world without it and I’m probably of the last generation that ever will! 


Is it so terrible for any of us, no matter what your journey entails, to want to be seen from our best light? To celebrate the little wins, no matter how small to some. In fairness, so much of my research into managing my conditions was instigated by some form of social media. Something which fuelled me to go on a rampage to collect all the information I could and to put something new into practice, anything that helps! 


My Blog is here to serve the middle. Not the before, not the after. I’m not here sharing with you my cure all technique to how I got my life, body and dignity back in “30 short days to your dream life” PAH! I’m not here, writing this to sell you my latest book or to convince you to sign up to my life coaching. (For clarification, neither I have, the thought is quite laughable!) I’m not trying to sell you ANYTHING. I’m just telling my story, from where I’m at now, the uncertain middle and one can hope, into the “after”. To show that a life’s transformation is not as simple as side-by-side comparison shots. OR buying a subscription, detox tea or gym pass. There is NO fad diet for life. You can’t fix it in 30 days by doing butt crunches. Life is a journey, its ongoing. This is mine.


Much love





As chronic suffers, I think we can all agree that we are continuously and tirelessly searching for an answer to cure what ails us. Unfortunately for so many of us, a medical cure is yet to be found. So techniques of management and improving our quality of life, more our ability to live a life, becomes somewhat of an obsession. Like I’ve discussed before, it’s an individual journey, no one size fits all, so the experimentation is an absolute necessity.


I guess you could say that this journey began with my first dietary research, which led me to sugar-free. But I feel more recently, that my work on my Microbiome has directly influenced my current fight against Fibro! So I thought it’s a good place to start…


A bit about your Microbiome;


The microbiome is defined as the collective genomes of the microbes (composed of bacteria, bacteriophage, fungi, protozoa and viruses) that live inside and on the human body. We have about 10 times as many microbial cells as human cells.


There is a huge amount of research on this. The findings are suggesting that an unbalanced Microbiome can be a cause for a whole host of issues, they’ve even linked it to the onset of Parkinson’s. If it floats your boat, click the link below to read more on this: 


Realistically, this isn’t hard to grasp; we are what we eat right? So naturally, what we are fueling ourselves with, will directly impact the functionality of our many and complex systems.  So simple.  How can we expect health and wellness when we aren’t supporting such a huge community within us.  I know from my research and time sugar-free, that the amount of additives, preservatives, random animal products in unexpected foods, the never ending names for refined sugars and their scary health implications themselves, that even the best of us, when we really start to dig into what we are putting into our bodies, would be horrified.  I know I was.  Ever looked at that innocent Jar of pesto in your cupboard, read through and understood the ingredients?  A simple pesto made from basil, olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan.  Made in a jiffy in your own kitchen…not so innocent when you check a supermarket label.  It took me a shocking amount of time and energy to find one that doesn’t contain nasty potentially Fibro exacerbating if not causing, added sugars!  You can do this now, check your cupboard for the most basic of things…you’re definitely getting more than what you paid for!  Scary thoughts, but I digress once again…


So, this knowledge led me to a company called Synergy. I’m not going to harp on about that, but just to say, they have an excellent Microbiome program designed to support, balance and detox your gut community. It has worked wonders for so many, with chronic illness or not!  (If you want further information on this, just drop me a comment!)


During my “reset” period, working on my Microbiome, I had some of the best days I’ve had in years!! Unfortunately, it didn’t last. This is not to say that I think it didn’t work, it did. But as we all know when you’re doing any kind of “detox”, we are all vulnerable to fall ill, or just generally feel down right awful! Which ultimately, I did. And it lingered. I became desperate to rekindle those good days I’d had, so the research began.


I knew from the onset that I had to drastically look at how I was fueling my body. What nutritional support I was giving and how that could be impacting my struggles. I knew that there were pharmaceutical factors for my fall on this regime, that detoxing was bound to be harsh considering the amount of analgesics I’d been popping for the last couple of years. Despite the fact I was already medication free, I knew that my system needed “cleaning” and in doing so I would open a proverbial can of worms! From my research earlier, I knew that it was possible to support and balance your Microbiome with diet. Eliminating processed foods and refined sugars, eating a variety of fruit and vegetables with an emphasis on leafy greens; introducing an array of fermented foods, probiotic’s and avoiding things like antacids, which in honesty, I’m a bugger with!!


Although diet is your number one, there are environmental factors which can affect your Microbiome; stress, sleep patterns and exercise all play a role.  Knowing this, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the lack of support my pre-fibro lifestyle was giving my system.  In honesty, in many ways it was a damn right assault on my very being.  Chronic stress, sleep deprivation, long working hours, skipped meals, mug shots counting as meals and an endless supply of black tar-like coffee to drag me through yet another frustrating life hating day/week/month.  Intermittently fuelled with wine therapy… to break up the monotony and spare my sanity for an evening!  Familiar?  If anything, a part of me is thankful I’m no worse off than I am, I mean Jesus, what was I thinking?!  If you abuse someone, you wouldn’t expect all sweetness and giggles, hugs and rainbows would you?   




I wrote on an earlier post “Fibromyalgia is a Jigsaw Puzzle” about trying a treatment for one symptom, feeling like it doesn’t work and moving on to the next thing, but that timing and more importantly, the order you address these issues can be as crucial as the the treatment/experiment itself. So with this in mind I spent time thinking about how I could trace back an issue to it’s simplest form. For me, when my fatigue is through the floor, everything is worse, my pain, my fog and obviously my mood. So I decided making a difference to my sleeping patterns was at the top of my list. I appreciate that sleep in itself is not directly influencing my level of fatigue, we all know it’s a different kind of tired, one we wouldn’t wish on anyone. But, I couldn’t remember the last time I had woken up feeling remotely rested, let alone actually slept through for more than a couple of hours at a time. So I figured, it is as good a place to start as any!


The plan from here, to research (yet again LOL) and implement practices to feed and support my Microbiome, with an initial focus on improving my sleeping patterns.  For me, what happened with my next step was nothing short of amazing!  


From inviting pictures on Instagram, to exciting blogs, I discovered the world of juicing. WOW was I hooked.  From night one, I slept.  Not only did I wake up without the memory of tossing and turning and being generally frustrated and painful, I was actually awake.  No hours of fog and zombie like cloud which I was so familiar with, which could last easily into the afternoon.  I actually felt rested.  There are no words to describe how amazing that morning, and subsequent mornings have been for me!!  I want to talk about this more, but it gets me off topic, so be assured my next post is on my juicing journey and forging these new habits!  You can also follow me on Instagram @crispy1984 to see what I’m making, have a laugh at my gorgeous Pugs and their antics and hopefully, be inspired as I’ve been by others! 


What I’ve talked about here is all very basic, from the Microbiome to obvious nutritional weapons against the array of symptoms we suffer.  The note I want to leave you with, the point of this post if you will; never underestimate the power of the simplest of things, the small changes and alternatives that can have a massive impact on the struggles with Chronic illness.  Believe that the world we live in, offers relief in abundance, that natural complementary therapies can actually tip the scales in your favour!  Keep your mind open to the possibility of healing, at least to a degree, one symptom at a time!  


Much Love