Monthly Archives: July 2014

Super Juice Me and Summer Break

The film Super Juice Me is available to watch for free this weekend. I saw it a few weeks ago (also for free). The film takes 8 people with a range of chronic conditions and puts them on a juice only diet. The changes they experience are incredible and inspirational.

I Juice nearly every day, but I’ve never done a juice fast; and whilst I think my body would be strong enough to cope with it now, I think if I had tried it earlier in my illness it would probably have made me feel worse.

Please be aware that to watch the film for free you do need to give your email address and you will then receive some very sales orientated emails from Jason Vale (you can unsubscribe). I don’t think you need to buy his books or apps if you want to get into juicing. There is plenty of information available for free on line or look for books in your local library, and of course my very own post on Vegetable Juicing.

This may be my last post until the kids go back to school in September.  I certainly won’t be posting regularly over the holidays.  I am going to enjoy this time with my kids.

The first summer I was ill (2012) I couldn’t look after the kids on my own and they had to spend the summer with relatives and friends.  Last summer I did manage to look after the kids for some of the time on my own, and we did a few outings, although they had to be relatively short and carefully planned and  I used my mobility scooter to get around.

This summer I am looking forward to longer outings, and to walking and cycling with my kids.

Just remember if you’re struggling at the moment things can get better.

Best wishes for the summer.

Planning for Success

Last week the Tour De France came to my home town.  I have been an avid Tour fan for many years and I really wanted to see the event live and join in with the festivities.  I needed a plan that would enable me to enjoy the day despite my limitations.

Things I considered when planning my outing:

  • Transport – how to get close enough to where I wanted to go so that I remained within my walking limits.
  • Food and Drink- I eat gluten free and try to get vegetables with every meal.  It’s hard to find healthy food at an event like this.
  • Clothing – I’ve always been sensitive to changes in temperature, but my ME makes me less able to tolerate being too cold or too hot.
  • Sensitivity to Noise and crowds
  • Company – who should I go with.  Who will help me if I start to get symptoms?
  • Location to watch the race
  • How to limit standing time
  • How to reduce other daily activities

Successful planning means planning around the limitations of my illness so I can participate in the activities I want to.


Transport to watch the Tour de France is a challenge for anyone, but even more for someone who has limited walking ability.

Driving – Most of the roads and car parks in the centre of town were closed, either from the night before, or from 7am on the day of the race.  This meant driving and using my blue badge to park nearby was not an option.

2. Bus – There is a park and ride bus service, but I was concerned that there would be long queues for this and I would struggle to stand in the queue, especially on the way home.

3. Train – the train station was not close to the start of the race.  This would have been too much walking for me.

4. Electric Bike – I’m really lucky to have an electric bike.  Cycling was the obvious way to get close to the race, and the option that my race going friends were all using.  Unfortunately we live 6 miles (12 miles round trip) from the start of the race and my bike has a range of 10 miles without pedaling.  I’ve never tested my bike to the limit, but now did not seem like a good time to start!

Solution: Drive a couple of miles down the road with my fold up electric bike in the back of the car, then cycle the rest of the way, secure in the knowledge that I could make it back to the car without running out of charge.

Food and Drink

I took a packed lunch and plenty of water.  This meant I didn’t have to waste energy walking round the numerous food stalls trying to find a suitable gluten free option, and then joining the long queues to buy food, leaving more energy to enjoy the festivities.


Clothing wasn’t really an issue on this occasion.  The weather forecast was warm and sunny , so comfy clothes and a cardigan in case it got chilly were all I needed.  I  made sure I had comfortable shoes to maximise my standing/walking ability.

Sensitivity to Noise and Crowds

Now that my health is improving I did not think this would be an issue for me at all.  In retrospect, this was one aspect I should have thought more about and I did wish I had packed some ear plugs.  I was right in thinking the crowds (and the noise from them) would not be an issue, but I had not factored in the four helicopters circling overhead.  The noise from them did affect me, but I used mindfulness, deep breathing and reassuring self talk to minimise this.


We had planned to go as a family, taking all 3 kids with us to see the start, even though it was a school day.  However, my husband had work commitments which meant he couldn’t go with me.  I know that if I’m struggling he will find a way to help me.  I was a lot less confident about going on my own, but I still wanted to go.  I decided to only take my oldest son, to make the day easier for me and arranged to have a friend on call in case of emergencies.

Friends invited me to go with them, but we couldn’t cycle with them, due to needing to drive part of the way.  We did meet up with them, but my son and I did not stay with them as with a big group there is lots of hanging around, waiting for people and making decisions about where to go.  I decided it would be better if just me and my son found ourselves a suitable vantage point.

We saw lots of people we knew, which helped make my day more enjoyable, even though I didn’t chat to anyone for long, because I was focused on finding my next sitting point.

Limiting Standing Time

My standing ability is much improved from where it used to be, but it’s still not “normal”.  I knew I would need to rest whenever I could, but also that there would be points of unavoidable standing and walking.  My choices of transport, food and drink and company were all related to limiting standing and walking, but I also took a fold up stool, so that I could wait sitting down.  Actually I didn’t need this; we perched on some railings waiting for the start, and then by standing on them managed to get a good view of the start line, and then made our way to the big screen where we sat and ate our lunch whilst watching the race.

Location to Watch The Race

Many people I know watched along the streets, once the riders were going.  We chose the start because I knew there would be a big screen, so if it was too difficult to get a view of the race we could still soak up the atmosphere and watch on the big screen (sitting down).  I think I made the right choice.

Limit other activities

I arranged for my husband to take my other two children to school, and I arranged for my son to cook dinner.  This meant I freed up more energy for my day out, and had time to rest when I got home.


For me, watching The Tour was everything I wanted it to be.  I saw the start  and then watched part of the race live on the big screen.  I got a great view of the start of the race, and really enjoyed the pre-race build up and the atmosphere and  I didn’t suffer from Post Exertional Malaise afterwards, so all my planning paid off.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Hannibal – The A Team

6 Great Ways to Enjoy Chocolate

I love chocolate, and so do most people I know. It’s apparently National Chocolate Day today, so it seems a perfect topic to write about.

Chocolate is generally considered an unhealthy food that we should eat less of, and your standard bar of  Dairy Milk, Mars Bar or any other of the confectionery on offer at your local newsagents probably is, but this is largely because of the sugar content, and of course if you have a problem with dairy, which some ME/CFS sufferers do, it also contains milk.

However, dark chocolate (aim for at least 70% cocoa solids) has a much lower sugar content and no dairy and hence should be considered separately to milk chocolate.

One study, by Hull University, claims dark chocolate is beneficial to ME/CFS.  Here’s a summary of a study.  It was only with 10 patients, so it’s a very small sample, but encouragingly for chocolate lovers it did show that eating dark chocolate was beneficial to ME/CFS sufferers.

Although there doesn’t seem to be lots of evidence pointing to the benefits of dark chocolate, I didn’t find any saying it was harmful.  It’s just that as with most topics and ME/CFS very little research has been done (perhaps we could persuade Lindt and/or Green and Blacks to fund a study).

There are scientific reasons why cocoa could help with ME/CFS symptoms.  Firstly, it improves seratonin levels in the brain, which some research studies have shown to be affected in ME/CFS sufferers.  Additionally, cocoa contains other chemicals and nutrients – eg magnesium, potassium, dopamine,  and tryptophan, as well as antioxidants that have been linked to ME/CFS.  

Based on the available information I see no problem making cocoa a regular part of my diet.  The trick is to find tasty ways to consume it without eating lots of sugar.

1. Eat a small bar, or a couple of squares of dark chocolate

Unlike milk chocolate which I find it hard to stop eating, I can have a small amount of dark chocolate and return the bar to the cupboard.  I quite often have a small amount in the evening.

2. Fabulous Fridge Cakes

You can find the recipe (by Dale Pinnock) on the Revital Website

This is a great way to consume not only cocoa, but healthy fats and fibre as well.  Our whole family enjoys these fridge cakes.   The website claims the benefits of this recipe include:

Heart & circulation – high blood pressure, high cholesterol: magnesium rich cocoa is believed to have a temporary lowering effect upon blood pressure. Essential fatty acids beneficial for reducing LDL cholesterol. Digestive system – constipation: high fibre to aid regularity.

3. Chocolate Fudge Balls

I got this recipe from my Nutiritionist (Thanks Nicola!). These are very rich.  Whilst they’re not an ideal every day treat, they are great for a special occasion, and are certainly better than eating a mars bar.


  • 3 cups dried coconut
  • 1.5 cups cocoa powder
  • 0.75 cups maple syrup or date syrup
  • 0.5 cup of coconut butter, melted(I couldn’t find coconut butter, so I used coconut oil and it tasted great)
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence
  • 0.25 – 0.5 teaspoon of salt

Mix all the ingredients together (I used a food processor) and form into approx 20 balls.  For a better appearance roll in some extra coconut.  Then place in petit four cases if you’re being fancy.

4. Chocolate Chia Pudding

I recently discovered this recipe by Oh She Glows and my son and I have had it for breakfast a couple of times – yum!

5. Chocolate Brownies

I was really pleased to discover this recipe for chocolate brownies, free of flour and refined sugar.  Whilst all the dates mean that it could still cause blood sugar regulation issues (I used to struggle with that, but it’s no longer such an issue for me), it’s healthier than most brownie recipes.  It’s probably not an ideal everyday treat, but as an occasional indulgence it’s delicious.

6. Chocolate Ice Cream

This is another easy recipe from my nutritionist, which we sometimes have for breakfast and sometimes for dessert.


  • 1 bag of frozen strawberries
  • 1 handful cashew nuts, almonds or hempseeds
  • 1-2 cups of natural bio-yogurt or water
  • 2 scoops of chocolate protein powder

Place all the ingredients in a blender, whizz until smooth and looks like ice cream.  The recipe says this makes 2 large bowls, but I actually make 6 portions from this.

So there you have it.  My 6 Great Ways to Enjoy Chocolate.  Happy chocolate eating everyone, and if you know of any other delicious, nutritious chocolate recipes please let me know.