Monthly Archives: October 2013

Increasing or Decreasing?

During my recovery I have made several major changes in lifestyle.  Most of these have been done gradually, as when you have very little energy it’s hard to change anything.

I have been reflecting on how I have made these changes and realised that when I’m successful I focus on what I am increasing or moving towards, not what I am decreasing or moving away from.  Here’s a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean:

Increase rest and decrease activity

I focused on increasing my rest by agreeing a rest schedule with my Occupational Therapist and over the coming weeks my focus was on ensuring I rested at the times we had agreed.  To do this I had to stop whatever my activity was at that time and go and rest (at that time I used to lie on my bed to rest).  This naturally meant I decreased my activity, but I didn’t think about that aspect.

Increase vegetables and decrease processed food

I have made many changes to my diet.  You can view my foods to eat more of and foods to eat less of lists. Whist there does need to be some awareness of what you are trying not to eat it is much better to focus on adding in the foods you want to increase.Since we have a finite appetite this will naturally lead to a decrease in other foods (the processed stuff we want to move away from).

With this focus I can think about eating the foods that nourish my body and help it to heal, which makes me feel good about myself, rather than focusing on the foods I can’t eat and feeling deprived and negative about the changes.

I personally don’t ban any foods, I haven’t been diagnosed with a food allergy/intolerance.  So therefore if I want to eat a certain food I can. However, the more I stick to the foods that are good for me, the better I feel and the less I want to eat the foods that I’m trying to avoid.

If you’re struggling to make a change try focusing on the positive aspect of the change – know what you are moving towards and focus on that rather than what you are moving away from.


This post was inspired by a glass of wine on Saturday night – only my second alcoholic drink in nearly two years.

Why I Don’t Drink Alcohol

Since I got CFS/ME  in January 2012 I have avoided alcohol almost entirely.

For the first few months of illness I felt dizzy and ill most of the time, and I had no desire to add to that with a hangover.  Once I got my dizziness under control and was pacing better I decided to try a small amount of wine.  So one evening in August 2012 when my kids were staying with my sister I experimented and had one half glass.

From that experiment I discovered I was alcohol intolerant!  The next day I had the worst hangover ever, as if I’d drunk 2 bottles of wine instead of half a glass. I felt like I’d been poisoned.

That experience was enough to stop my trying alcohol again until now.

How the Body Processes Alcohol

I have picked out some highlights (relevent to CFS/ME) of what happens during alcohol metabolism from this article.

  • Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestine.
  • It travels to the liver where it is converted to energy.  Whilst the liver is metabolising the alcohol it is unable to carry out other functions.
  • The liver can process 1/2 oz alcohol per hour.  Excess alcohol flows to other parts of the body.
  • Alcohol in the heart causes you to pump less blood and the blood vessels relax, causing a lowering of blood pressure.
  • Alcohol is a sedative. When it reaches your brain it slows the transmission of impulses between nerve cells that control your ability to think and move.
  • Alcohol reduces your brain’s production of anti-diuretic hormones, which keep you from making too much urine. You may lose lots of liquid, vitamins and minerals.

 What Does This Mean For Me?

  • Tests I did with my nutrtionist indicated my liver is not getting rid of toxins as it should, but is recirculating them around my body: this is probably why a small amount of alcohol had such a massive impact on me.
  • I am already eating extra salt to counteract low blood pressure, thus alcohol lowering my blood pressure is not something I want.
  • I already have brain fog, therefore I don’t want the sedative effect of alcohol dulling me further.
  • I take vitamin and mineral supplements and  I don’t want to waste them by peeing them out at a faster rate than normal.

It’s clear that the effects of alcohol are not going to help me feel better.

What happened after my drink on Saturday?

I’m pleased to report that I felt OK after my wine on Saturday night.  I think this could be because my sauna is helping me to detox, and hence my liver is better able to process the alcohol than it was.

What will my attitude to alcohol be going forward?  

It’s on my list of foods to eat less of and I intend to avoid it almost entirely, because it’s not going to help me recover and it may hinder recovery.   However, on very special occasions, if I want a drink I won’t be scared of how I’ll feel the next day, I’ll be able to imbibe if I want to.

What’s your experience of drinking alcohol and CFS/ME?


link fixed

I noticed that a link to my page about the stop process was broken.  Sorry about that.  I’ve fixed it now.

If you find any other links that aren’t working then please let me know by leaving a comment on the relevant post or emailing me at


Sleep and brain detoxification

This morning I heard a story on the news about sleep being a time when the brain detoxifies and I wondered if there is a connection between this study and the brain fog we get with ME/CFS.

This is purely my own speculation based on observations of my brain fog.  My brain fog improved gradually as my sleep improved (after I began treating my adrenal fatigue). Perhaps this is because now I’m able to sleep better my brain has more time to detoxify itself, and hence everything works better.

Another possible reason for brain fog is mitochondrial failure.  Perhaps our brain cells simply can’t make enough energy to operate properly.

Whatever the reason behind my brain fog, I’m glad it’s receded sufficiently for me to be able to write this blog.  I’m thankful every day that my health is improving.

A quick way to increase the vegetable content of any meal

In my post Foods to eat more of, I said that I am aiming for 1/3 protein to 2/3 carbohydrates for every meal, that carbohydrates should be in the form of vegetables as much as possible and that I’m trying to eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables.

For a long time I was reliant on other people cooking meals (my family still cook 4 nights out of 7), and my family usually don’t provide such a high proportion of vegetables with a meal.

Often I have dragged myself to the table from where I have been lying (sofa or bed) to discover a meal that did not match my ideal.  I’d like to stress here that I am always grateful for a meal prepared by someone else, and I certainly don’t want to criticise whoever has prepared it or suggest that their efforts aren’t appreciated.  So I need to increase the vegetable content without creating a fuss.

My solution to this is to always keep a bag of ready washed green leaves in the fridge.  This could be spinach, lettuce, watercress, rocket or other green leaves that can be eaten without cooking.  Then I simply add a handful or two to my plate.  I also try and keep a jar of homemade salad dressing (olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, herbs and celtic sea salt) to make the salad a bit more interesting.

One extra tip if you’re going to try this; darker green leaves have more nutritional value than paler leaves, so don’t stick to iceberg lettuce, experiment with other darker green leaves.

Other helpful stuff

You may not have noticed that, as well as this blog, I have some other pages on my site.

Under the heading Other Helpful Stuff. You can currently find pages about:

I am sharing my experience of what has helped me in the hope it will help others.  I will be adding to this over the coming weeks with information about

  • Meditation
  • Epsom Salt Baths
  • Pacing
  • Doing activities I enjoy
  • Yoga and Qi Gong

Tip: Please don’t try and read all of this in one go.  Take your time, it will still be there tomorrow.

If there are other topics you would like me to write about please leave a comment below.

Bone Broth

I’ve already mentioned in Feeding hungry kids (and husbands) that a popular food in our house has been ready made soups from the chiller section of the supermarket.  I used to have a bowl of soup nearly every lunchtime. These were a life saver when I was too weak to cook.  However, now I’m improving I am managing to make more home made stocks and soups, although I still make use of ready made soups when I’ve run out of home made and I’m low on energy. I’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of bone broth.  It seems to be a bit of a super food.  Here’s some of the claims:

  • helps heal the gut
  • increase immunity
  • reduce joint pain in athletes
  • may improve sleep quality
  • helps the liver with detoxification
  • it’s a good source of magnesium, which I’ve found helpful in reducing restless legs and leg pain

If you want to research this further there here are some articles I found helpful:

As a CFS sufferer bone broth sounds like something I should be eating more of. I like the idea of perpetual soup.  I may try this next week and see how I get on.  I’m not sure my family will take kindly to drinking broth, but I will try it. I have made a couple of batches of chicken stock recently. I’ve used it in home made soups and various slow cooker recipes.  I still have a litre or so left in my freezer which I’m going to use in some leek and potato soup. Here’s how I make chicken stock: Ingredients

  • The remains of a chicken (carcass, skin etc.)
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 1-2 celery sticks
  • 1 onion – peeled and halved
  • 3 peppercorns
  • celtic sea salt
  • herbs – usually thyme or rosemary (fresh or dried)

Put chicken carcass, skin and any other bits left when we’ve eaten the chicken into the slow cooker.  Add the other ingredients, cover with water to the capacity of the slow cooker.  Cook for approx 8 hours. Cool and drain the stock.  Keep in the fridge for approx 5 days or in the freezer for longer.

A new approach from the NHS?

I just came across this excellent article  by Nancy Blake entitled a Radical Care Pathway for CFS/ME.

I believe this approach would make a huge difference to patient outcomes. There are far too many people being told to keep pushing, when the best course of action would be to rest.

I hope the NHS takes this on board and treatment of CFS/ME patients improves.

Salt and Dizziness

Salt and Blood Pressure

I’m sure you’ve heard that salt is bad for you and you should reduce your salt intake, because salt can lead to high blood pressure, which puts you at risk of all sorts of horrible diseases.

However, many ME/CFS sufferers have low blood pressure, and hence eating  salt can help us to maintain a more normal blood pressure.

What type of Salt?

Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan Pink Salt are the two best salts to use.  This is because unlike regular table salt they contain plenty of essential minerals.  I have been using Celtic Sea Salt. I bought a bag over a year ago for around £12, and still have nearly half of it left.  So although it seemed quite expensive at the time because of the quantities you need it is not.


Himalayan Pink Salt

Dr Mercola claims that Himalayan Pink Salt contains all of the 84 elements found in your body,  and the benefits of natural Himalayan Crystal Salt include:

  1. Regulating the water content throughout your body.
  2. Promoting a healthy pH balance in your cells, particularly your brain cells.
  3. Promoting blood sugar health and helping to reduce the signs of aging.
  4. Assisting in the generation of hydroelectric energy in cells in your body.
  5. Absorption of food particles through your intestinal tract.
  6. Supporting respiratory health.
  7. Promoting sinus health.
  8. Prevention of muscle cramps.
  9. Promoting bone strength.
  10. Regulating your sleep — it naturally promotes sleep.
  11. Supporting your libido.
  12. Promoting vascular health.
  13. In conjunction with water it is actually essential for the regulation of your blood pressure.

Celtic Sea Salt
According to Celtic Sea Salt contains 82 trace minerals and has a list of benefits similar to the Himalayan Salt.  However, Dr Mercola points out that our oceans are now polluted, so as well as all these great minerals you may be ingesting pollutants.

Reducing Dizziness

In the first few months of my CFS/ME dizziness was a huge problem for me.  I think this is because of low blood pressure and my heart simply not having enough energy to pump the blood up to my head when I was standing or sitting (orthostatic intolerance).  If you want to find out more about orthostatic intolerance I found the article at Learning to Live with CFS really helpful.

I started using Celtic Sea Salt and at the same time used the Stop Process whenever I started thinking about my dizziness. Within a few weeks my dizziness was dramatically improved, and stayed that way until this summer.

After my dizziness went I carried on using Celtic Sea Salt, until my summer holiday this year.  When I returned from holiday I forgot to use the salt and my dizziness started to return.  This was really worrying.  I had improved lots and did not want to revert back to the person who had to lie down all the time to avoid the dizziness.  I made a big effort to add salt to as much of my food as I could and within 2 weeks my dizziness disappeared again.

Foods to eat less of

I could have labelled this post foods to avoid, but I find the idea of never eating a certain food instantly makes me want to eat lots of it.  Most of the foods here are the usual suspects, I will be writing some posts in the coming weeks about the reasons behind avoiding these.

  • Processed foods high in fat, sugar, chemicals additives or preservatives
  • Tinned foods or juices
  • Alcohol, caffeine and fizzy drinks
  • Grains—wheat, oats and rye
  • Refined grains— white rice, white flour or pasta
  • Sugar (including honey and malt)
  • Stock cubes (use gluten free stock cubes)
  • Yeast extracts
  • Soy sauce – use tamari sauce instead
  • Smoked meats and fish
  • Pickles and relishes
  • Peanuts
  • Any food containing vinegar (e.g. Mayonnaise)
  • Chilli and very spicy food
  • Dried fruit
  • Cheese