Category Archives: helpful foods

How I went from lying down all day to cycling the Coast to Coast

As you have probably gathered I’m no longer regularly updating this blog.  I decided that after completing my coast to coast bike ride and proving to myself that I really was fully recovered it was time to move on.  I’m still doing well, and I’m living life to the full.

In this post I want to share some of my posts that document how I went from lying down most of the time, and using a mobility scooter and electric bike to get around  to recovering my health and cycling the coast to coast bike ride in Summer 2015

How I spent most of the day

How I spent most of the day in May 2013

Completing the Coast to Coast bike ride August 2015

Completing the Coast to Coast bike ride August 2015

Although I’m no longer updating the blog, I hope it provides inspiration and help for those suffering with ME/CFS.  Below are some links  to what I consider some of the most important information about my recovery, and I hope they will be helpful to others in their recovery.  Hopefully this will enable easy access to the most important posts, without needing to trawl the archives, although there are lots more great posts in the archives if these don’t satisfy you.

  1. This post will tell you more about what Life with ME/CFS was like for me.
  2. How I dealt with my Adrenal Fatigue
  3. What supplements I took/take
  4. Why I take Magnesium
  5. my 9 tips for surviving Christmas with ME/CFS/PVF
  6. 9 things to remove from your life to aid recovery
  7. Surviving Post Exertional Malaise – PEM A Survival Guide
  8. The habits of Recovery
  9. Are you willing to change your life to regain your health?
  10. Meditation was hugely important for me, and is something I’m still practicing.
  11. The Habits of Recovery
  12. My Far infrared Sauna
  13. Sleep – the foundation of recovery, and yet so difficult to sort out.
  14. The Stop process
  15. Focus on what you’re increasing, not decreasing.
  16. Sometimes you need to Take a step backwards
  17. Nutrition was hugely important  for me.  Here’s a few links to posts about food:
    1. Should you go Gluten Free?
    2. Green Smoothies
    3. The Benefits of Juicing
    4. Fermented Foods
    5. Vegetables
    6. Sugar
    7. Foods to eat more of
    8. Foods to eat less of
    9. Salt and Dizziness

If you’ve just come across this blog; welcome and I’m sorry if you or someone you know is suffering with ME/CFS.  My recovery  involved huge changes in my lifestyle and habits.  This isn’t easy, but it is possible.   I hope that some of what helped me also helps you.

Best wishes and good luck


Marvellous Magnesium

Magnesium Infographic from Ontario Health

Magnesium Infographic from Ontario Health

In my Supplements post I briefly mentioned that I’ve found Magnesium really helpful.  I want to sing it’s praises a bit more in this post.

Magnesium in the body

Magnesium is crucial to many reactions in the body ,in particular those involving energy production in our mitochondria.  Dr Myhill gives an excellent explanation of Mitochondrial Failure in ME/CFS here.

According to MedlinePlus

Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps the heart beat steady, and helps bones remain strong. It also helps regulate blood glucose levels and aid in the production of energy and protein.

Magnesium is crucial to our health, and yet many people are deficient in Magnesium.

Causes of Magnesium Deficiency

Our diets may not contain sufficient magnesium.  If you are eating lots of processed foods you are unlikely to be getting sufficient magnesium in your diet.  However, due to magnesium depletion in our soils even someone eating a whole-food diets may struggle to get enough magnesium.  The table below shows the decrease in magnesium in a British analysis of various foods between 1960 and 1994.

Another common cause of magnesium deficiency is malabsorption. If you have a damaged gut (e.g. IBS) even if you are eating enough magnesium you may not be absorping it into your body efficiently.

Other causes are medications which prevent/reduce magnesium absorption and alcoholism. Additionally flouride, found in toothpaste and some drinking water, may bind to magnesium and prevent absorption.

Blood Test for Magnesium Deficiency

If you’ve been diagnosed with ME/CFS you’ve probably had a lot of blood tests to exclude other diagnoses.  One of these may well have been serum of magnesium, which probably came back “normal”.  However,

 only 1 percent of magnesium in your body is distributed in your blood, making a simple sample of magnesium from a serum magnesium blood test not very useful.

Most magnesium is stored in your bones and organs, where it is used for many biological functions. Yet, it’s quite possible to be deficient and not know it, which is why magnesium deficiency has been dubbed the “invisible deficiency.”


Dr Myhill has an excellent article on Magnesium deficiency in CFS/ME.  She recommends magnesium injections.

Ways to Increase your Magnesium:

1. via diet.  Eating magnesium rich foods such as spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans, avacado, figs, dark chocolate and bananas.

2. Epsom Salt baths are a relaxing way to absorb magnesium through the skin.  However, I found that although this helped my restless legs, it was not fully effective (I think I wasn’t getting enough magnesium this way).

3. Magnesium Oil: You can buy this in health food shops and spray it on your skin.  I have been experimenting with natural deodorants, and found this effective, so I spray it on my underarms and also on particularly achy muscles – usually my calves – before I go to bed.

4. Supplements: I have taken magnesium citrate and magnesium taurate.  The taurate was suggested by my nutritionist because of hormone imbalances.  I started taking the magnesium as a temporary solution to constipation and noticed that my restless legs stopped, my muscles ached less and I was sleeping better, so I stayed on it.  Recently I experimented with removing it, but my symptoms returned, so for now it’s staying.  I’ve also noticed since starting my training for the Coast to Coast cycle ride that on days with lots of physical activity it is helpful to me to increase my dose of magnesium citrate.

5. Magnesium injections:  This is what Dr Myhill recommends, but I haven’t used this method.  It may be worth raising with your GP to see if they will do this for you.

Can I overdose on magnesium?

Theoretically yes you can.  However  Dr Myhill says she has yet to see a red cell magnesium level that is too high and my nutritionist told me that I could safely take my multi vitamin containing some magnesium, magnesium citrate and magnesium taurate, and also have an epsom salt bath whenever I wanted.  I did not start using magnesium oil until after I had reduced my multivitamin and magnesium citrate and stopped taking magnesium taurate.

If you have kidney problems then you should be careful with magnesium supplementation, as in healthy people the kidneys get rid of excess magnesium.


Magnesium supplementation in various forms has really helped me, and is one of the few supplements I’m still taking.  If my experience resonates with you, then why not try increasing your magnesium intake?  You could start slowly by having epsom salt baths and increasing magnesium rich foods in your diet, although if you have a damaged gut you may not absorb magnesium from food efficiently.

If the epsom salt baths help, but don’t totally alleviate the symptoms (for me key symptoms were restless legs and muscle aches) then you may wish to consider oral supplements or talk to your GP about injections.  If you want to go the injection route I recommend printing out the relevant section of Dr MyHill’s site to show your GP.


I haven’t written about supplements sooner, because I don’t want people to think they are magic pills which are going to suddenly cure everything.  I believe that you need to be eating the right foods, and make lifestyle changes – such as pacing and meditating, the supplements may then give you a boost.

Before I got ME the only supplement I took was Evening Primrose Oil, which effectively reduced pain/tenderness in my breasts.  This had been recommended by a specialist nurse after I had a mammogram.  I ate relatively healthily, and didn’t see the need for other supplements.

After I got PVF, I was feeling so rough that after a few weeks I started researching what I could do to help myself.  It was at that point that I found the website  I also came across the book Natural Energy by Dr Erika Schwartz an Carol Colman, and also From Fatigued to Fantastic by Jacob Teitelbaum.  Based on what I read I began taking the following supplements:

  • Fatigued to Fantastic Energy Revitalization System – half a scoop a day
  • D Ribose 5 g morning and evening
  • CoQ10 150mg
  • L-Glutamine 1500mg
  • L Carnitine 1000mg
  • Evening Primrose Oil 2000 mg per day
  • Viridian Licorice Root 1 capsule

After a few months I began to consult my Nutritional Therapist.  Over the time I consulted with her we changed my supplements several times. Here is the list of everything I remember taking under her direction.  These were not taken all at the same time.  Sometimes I stopped one tablet and replaced it with another.  At other times the importance of taking taking two supplements together was stressed.  Where I can remember that information I’ve included it here.  However, please note that throughout most of the time I was consulting with my nutritional therapist I had brain fog and very little energy, so my memory is not great!

  • Solgar Energy Modulators  – 2 capsules per day
  • Nutri Adrenal Extra (not taken with Solgar Energy Modulator) 2 tablets per day before 1pm.
  • Nutrigest Pancreatic Enzymes (always taken with probiotics)
  • Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotics
  • Pukka Herbs Ashwaganha & Shatavari (instead of Nutri Adrenal Extra)
  • Higher Nature Valerian Sleep aid
  • Biocare Multi One a Day Plus (vitamin and mineral supplement instead of fatigued to fantastic powder)
  • Biocare Magnesium Taurate
  • Magnesium Citrate

I am not advocating that you go out, buy all these supplements and start taking them immediately.  I’m not qualified to give advice on what you should take, all I can do is share what I took and what I think helped me.  If you’re considering taking supplements you need to be aware of possible interactions between different supplements or and/or your prescription medication.

Nutri Adrenal Extra

The supplement that I noticed the most direct benefit from, and felt worse when I stopped taking it was Nutri Adrenal Extra.  I initially took this for 1 month, after a saliva test showed I had adrenal fatigue. I saw noticeable improvements within two weeks, particularly in my sleep.  After 1 month, on the advice of my nutritionist, I tried to stop taking Nutri Adrenal Extra and replace it with Ashwagana and Sharavari instead.  I noticed my symptoms and sleep worsened and after consulting with my nutritionist we quickly swapped me back on to the Nutri Adrenal Extra.  I took this for about 18 months in total, before gradually reducing my dose and removing it altogether.


Magnesium also made a huge and noticeable difference to my symptoms.  It really helped my restless legs, muscle pain, constipation and sleep. I am still taking magnesium citrate tablets, having recently experimented with removing them only to discover that my restless legs  and constipation returned.

Current Supplement Regime

As my health has improved I have steadily decreased the number and quantity of supplements I’m taking.

I am currently taking:

  • 500mg Evening Primrose Oil (reduced from 2000mg)
  • 1-2 tablets of Biocare Multi One a Day Plus.  I experimented with removing this, but have decided to add it back in.
  • Magnesium Citrate – 1 tablet per day

I also ensure I eat or drink probiotic foods daily: homemade yogurt, kimchi and/or kombucha, to replace the probiotic tablets I used to take, and I still pay close attention to my diet to ensure I get a nutrient dense diet.






Fermented Foods

2015-01-26 09.38.15I’ve been experimenting with various fermented foods over the last few months, and I’ve decided it’s time to share my results.

I’ve already written about my homemade yogurt and kombucha, which are both fermented foods.  This post focuses on my experiments fermenting vegetables.

There is a lot of science involved in the fermentation process, and, for me, some understanding of that was important to success.  I wrote a post called Cabbage Juice Stinks after my first unsuccessful experiment with fermenting cabbage.  I still shudder at the memory of that smell, and it put me off fermenting vegetables for a good while.  However, I continued to read about the benefits of fermentation, and plenty of food/health bloggers extol the virtues of foods like sauerkraut and kim chi.

I tried making sauerkraut following this recipe .  I was unsure about a recipe that called for me to scrape the mould off the surface of the ferment.  Further reading validated my doubts.

scraping off the mold leaves it’s roots behind, and ingesting this can end up causing problems in the long run. Nourishing Traditions

Apart from the mould, the other problem with this batch of sauerkraut was that it was so salty it was inedible – another unsuccessful experiment.

When I came across this fabulous set of articles testing fermentation vessels and read the detailed information about fermentation by Lea Harris of Nourishing Traditions, I understood where I’d gone wrong in my previous attempts : not keeping out oxygen.  This gave me the confidence to try fermenting again. First I bought a Kilner Jar (known as Fido Jar in the US and in the Nourishing Traditions articles).  This would allow me to keep the oxygen out of my ferment, and hopefully lead to success.  When it came time to set up my ferment I decided on Kim Chi.  I happened to have a red cabbage on hand and this led me to a recipe by Garden Betty.

The results from this have been a success.  I adapted the recipe, by leaving out the red pepper powder and daikon because I didn’t have any and I had no idea where to buy any.  I’m happy to say the other flavours in the recipe led to a tasty jar of fermented vegetables that my husband and I add to our plates regularly.  The kids turn their noses up at it, and complain about the smell, so I mainly eat it at lunch time when they are at school.  It’s a great low effort way to add additional vegetables to my meal.

Red Cabbage Kimchi  (Adapted from Garden Betty’s recipe)
Makes 3 quarts


2 pounds red cabbage, chopped
1/4 cup salt (I use sea salt)
1/2 pound carrot, julienned
6 spring onions, sliced into 1-inch segments
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 small pear or apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
dechlorinated water – amount varies
2 tablespoons fish sauce


  1. Chop the cabbage into thin, bite sized pieces (I use my food processor for this)
  2. In a large bowl, massage the salt into the cabbage until the leaves start to release liquid.
  3. Cover with water and let the cabbage sit at room temperature for at least two hours while the salt draws out moisture. Periodically toss the cabbage and work your hands through the leaves to expel more moisture.
  4. After about two hours, the cabbage should be soft and limp, and the volume reduced in half. (If yours is still firm and full, come back to it after another hour or two.) Strain the cabbage and rinse under running water to remove excess salt. Strain again, then return the cabbage to the bowl. Add carrot, green onions, garlic, and ginger.
  5. In a blender, combine the pear (or apple, if using), yellow onion, water, and fish sauce, and give everything a whirl until smooth. Pour the sauce over the vegetables.
  6. Put on some gloves (the sauce can be pretty spicy and smelly to work with!) and give the kimchi a good rubdown, making sure the veggies are well combined and coated with sauce.
  7. Pack the kimchi into kilner jars, leaving 1 to 2 inches of headspace. The veggies will expand and release more liquid as they ferment, so you don’t want to overfill the jars. Tamp down the veggies with the back of a spoon to fully submerge them. I found that there was enough liquid in the jars to keep them submerged, and since the liquid is more of a paste, the veggies don’t float to the top as in other ferments.
  8. Wipe the rims clean, then seal the jars and let ferment at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for at least about 2 weeks. (It wouldn’t be a bad idea to place the jars in a shallow baking dish to catch any overflow of liquid.)Every day, press down on the veggies with a spoon to expel more liquid and make sure everything is shipshape. A proper ferment should have no mold and no off smell. 


Weightloss with ME/CFS

It’s the new year and I see several people in the PVF/ME/CFS/ facebook group I belong to setting resolutions to lose weight. Many people with PVF/ME/CFS find themselves putting on weight. This could be due to numerous factors, here’s a few that I thought of:

  • Some of the medication used to control symptoms can lead to weight gain;
  • When you haven’t got the energy to cook it’s all too easy to make poor food choices, a bag of crisps is much less effort than preparing a meal;
  • It’s tempting to comfort eat, the temporary pleasure derived from a bar of chocolate can be very appealing when your whole life has been turned upside down;
  • ME sufferers are a pretty inactive bunch so we can’t use exercise to help our weight.

Over the last 18 months I have listened to, and read, lots of information by Jonathan Bailor, he has a podcast (called at various times The Smarter Science of Slim, The Calorie Myth and now the SANE show). I started listening to Jonathan because I wanted to understand more about why the food I was eating was good for me, because what he was recommending for weight loss was virtually identical to what I was doing for health.

Jonathan was not trying to cure himself, or clients, of illness, but he was a personal trainer and could see the standard advice of eat less calories and do more exercise wasn’t working for many clients. He started reading research papers about diet and exercise and realised that the standard advice from the US government (very similar to the UK government advice), and taught to personal trainers is not based on science and in fact the research shows why this approach does not work.

The scientific evidence he reviewed showed that our weight is controlled by our hormones. When we eat our hormones will control what we store and what we excrete, based on our set point weight, which our body is balancing to. This is a completely different way of looking at weight loss/gain to the traditional calories in/calories out and explains why some people can eat lots and not gain weight and others seem to gain weight even when eating very little.

Over time our metabolism, controlled by hormones, can become “clogged”, and this causes our set point weight to increase. The research led Jonathan to focus on “unclogging”, which would then cause fat loss.

He concluded (from the research) that the way to effect this change is by eating a SANE diet. Where SANE stands for Satiety, Aggressiveness, Nutrient Density, and Efficiency.

If you classify foods this way you end up focussing on a diet with lots of non-starchy vegetables, some low sugar fruits, sufficient protein and some healthy fats. Wow – look how similar that is to the diet I’ve been following to improve my health, and recommended by people like Dr Terry Wahls for improving MS.

It turns out the diet to improve health and lose weight (for the long term) are nearly identical. 

I think hormones played a big part in my ME/CFS.  Although all my blood tests were normal I had several discussions with my nutritionist about how I showed symptoms of thyroid problems, and later symptoms of too little progesterone and/or too much oestrogen.  It therefore makes sense to me that a diet that improves hormones will improve ME symptoms and cause fat loss.

Of course you can lose weight in the short term by going on a low calorie diet, but most people cannot sustain this over the long term. You will be trying to work against your body, whereas, following the SANE/eating for health approach is about working with your body – providing the nutrients it needs to heal itself.

I am applauding all the great dietary changes I see – people swapping crisps and cakes for vegetables and fruits, eating more whole food and less processed food and being more concious of what they are eating. However I wish more people understood that focusing on increasing the nutrient density of their diet is much more important than counting calories.

I am lucky not to have gained weight whilst ill, I’ve changed my diet to improve my health.  If you’re in the position of wanting to do both then I encourage you to nourish your body with nutrient dense foods, not starve yourself on a low calorie diet.  Perhaps 2015 will be your year for better health and losing weight.


In my post What causes damage to our gut? I touched on how antibiotics can damage our gut bacteria. Unfortunately my GP has just prescribed a weeks worth on antibiotics for me, so I’ve been researching what I can do to … Continue reading

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.



Green Smoothies

2014-06-11 07.53.42What is a green Smoothie?

Smoothies are made in blenders, as opposed to juices, which are made in a juicer.   The difference between the two is that smoothies contain the whole fruit and/or vegetable, whilst juicers extract the juice, but leave the fibre behind.  A smoothie can be as simple as fruit blended with some water, or they can be made more nutritious by the addition of other ingredients e.g. bio-yogurt or  protein powder. A Green Smoothie is a smoothie that’s coloured green,  from the addition of vegetables.

Why Green Smoothies?

If you’ve read my post about vegetables you’ll know I’m a convert to the idea that vegetables contain many micro nutrients which our bodies need in the healing process.  Increasing the vegetable content of my diet is something I am focussed on.  Eating a significant quantity of vegetables at breakfast is tricky.  Sometimes I make an omelette with a mix of mushrooms, spinach, peppers and/or onion, but I don’t always have time for all the chopping that entails.  A green smoothie enables me to get a really big quantity of vegetables straight into my system first thing in the morning, quickly and easily.  Dr Terry Wahl, author of The Wahl’s Prtotocol is a fan of green smoothies, so is Johnathan Bailor, author of The Calorie Myth, and so is my nutritionist.

My Experience

I’ve been making smoothies for years.  I can’t remember where I first read about them, but I found they made a great after-school drink/snack for my children.  I also read about adding spinach and used this as a great way to get my kids to eat spinach without them even knowing.  If you keep the spinach content relatively low you don’t even notice it (honestly – give it a try if you don’t believe me).

When I got ill, activities like smoothie making were far too much energy for me, and we stopped.  My daughter was encouraged to make her own green smoothies by our nutritionist, but this was an unsuccessful experiment as she didn’t like the taste of the recipes suggested (having looked at the recipes they contained a higher proportion of bitter greens and the fruit suggested was less sweet than the berries I use in mine, e.g. kale with apple and lemon).

I’ve been drinking green smoothies for most of my breakfasts for 2-3 months now.  I didn’t start out with  the ultimate recipe that I list below.  I have gradually increased the proportion of vegetables to fruit, and as I’ve read about or discussed other ingredients with my nutritionist I’ve included them.

I use my green smoothie as a meal replacement and I add a whole load of stuff to it to increase my nutrient intake. My recipe is at the end of this post.  By the time I’m finished my blender jug is nearly full, and I generally get 2-3 large glasses full of smoothie.  If I manage to drink all this (and I generally do) it keeps me full until lunch time.

I feel really good when I have smoothies for breakfast.  Of course it could be a psychological boost from feeling that I’m doing something healthy, but I think there is a physical boost from all the nutrients entering my body.  When I think about what I want for breakfast I now often think smoothie and really look forward to it (you may find that surprising when you read the ingredients list).  Partly this is because it’s so quick and easy, but partly it’s because I feel good after I’ve drunk it.

Below are two smoothie recipes: my beginner green smoothie recipe and my Ultimate Green Smoothie recipe.  My Beginner recipe is what I used to make for my kids (and me).  It’s a very gentle introduction into green smoothies and I encourage you to try it as a snack.  If you get on OK with that then you can start gradually increasing the proportion of vegetables, decreasing the proportion of fruit and gradually try adding in some of the other ingredients from my Ultimate Green Smoothie Recipe.   Let me know how you get on.

Beginner Green Smoothie Recipe


  • 1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)*
  • 1 banana (fresh or frozen)*
  • 1 small handful of baby leaf spinach
  • 1 small carton of natural pro-biotic yoghurt
  • ice cubes* and/or water
  • Optional extra: 1 scoop of whey protein powder – this will give the smoothie a thicker creamier texture and flavour as well as adding protein to the smoothie.

*If at least one item of fruit is frozen it improves the texture of the finished drink.  You can also add ice cubes, but frozen fruit gives the best results.


Put all the ingredients in a blender jug and blend until smooth.

My Ultimate Green Smoothie Recipe

Please note if you’re new to smoothies I don’t suggest you start with this full recipe.  Use the beginner smoothie recipe above and transition gradually.


  • 2 cups of vegetables.  I aim for 1 cup of green leafy, with the other cup either sulphur rich or colourful, or a mixture (see my Vegetables post for a list of which vegetables fall into which category)
  • 1 cup fruit – a mix of raspberries and blueberries is my favourite, but I also use strawberries, papaya, mango, kiwi, melon, pear etc.
  • 2 dessert spoons Miracle Matcha (or freshly ground linseeds, chia seeds and goji berries)
  • 1.5 scoops whey protein powder.
  • 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg or cinnamon (or you could try other spices)
  • 3 tablespoons of Pukka Aloe Vera Juice
  • Coconut water (approx half a cup)
  • 1 cup coconut milk and/or bio yogurt (unless you’re dairy free)
  • Nutritional Yeast (excellent source of B vitamins) – approx 1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon Green Nori Sprinkle (a great source of iodine – important for  thyroid function)


Put all the ingredients in a blender jug and blend until smooth.


Vegetable Juicing

Benefits of juicing

If you want to see an excellent demonstration of the benefits of juicing then I recommend the film Fat Sick and Nearly Dead.  In the film Jo spends a month drinking/eating nothing but vegetable juice and sees massive improvements in his health.  I don’t recommend an approach this extreme if you have ME/CFS.  I used to struggle with blood sugar regulation (another of my symptoms that has dramatically improved) and I found I needed to eat regularly.  I think I would have felt pretty awful without regular meals containing protein.

According to Dr Mercola

There are three main reasons why you will want to consider incorporating vegetable juicing into your optimal health program:

  1. Juicing helps you absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables. This is important because most of us have impaired digestion as a result of making less-than-optimal food choices over many years. This limits your body’s ability to absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables. Juicing will help to “pre-digest” them for you, so you will receive most of the nutrition, rather than having it go down the toilet.

  2. Juicing allows you to consume an optimal amount of vegetables in an efficient manner. If you are a carb type, you should eat one pound of raw vegetables per 50 pounds of body weight per day. Some people may find eating that many vegetables difficult, but it can be easily accomplished with a quick glass of vegetable juice.

  3. You can add a wider variety of vegetables in your diet. Many people eat the same vegetable salads every day. This violates the principle of regular food rotation and increases your chance of developing an allergy to a certain food. But with juicing, you can juice a wide variety of vegetables that you may not normally enjoy eating whole.

Juicing recipes

Jo Cross’s website has several recipes, or you can buy juicing recipe books.  However, I find rather than following a recipe I pick a selection of what I have in my fridge, so here’s my guide, based on experimentation.  Mix and match to find what suits your taste.  Start off with more sweetness and slowly increase the proportions of greens.

Base: Celery or Cucumber (or both)

Sweetness: apple/pear/carrot/beetroot.  Too much of these will increase the sugar content of your juice.  Add enough to get a pleasant flavour, but don’t go overboard.

Green leafy vegetables: Kale, Spinach, Parsley, Lettuce, cabbage etc.  Slowly increase the quantity of these if you’re new to juicing.

Spice: Generally I use ginger, but you can experiment with others

Added Zing: Lemon or Lime.  This is particulary useful if you have added too many green leaves and the juice is a bit bitter, it cuts through that.

Other vegetables:  Anything you want. I like fennel, brocolli, peppers, but experiment.

 What type of Juicer is best?

There are two main types of juicers: masticating and centrifugal.  Generally, centrifugal juicers are cheaper than masticating juicers, but masticating juicers ensure more enzymes from the fruit are retained and also extract more juice from a given amount of produce.

If you are new to juicing I recommend you buy a centrifugal juicer.  This way if you find juicing does not suit you, you have not spent a huge amount of money. If your energy is limited (as mine was when I started) then look for one that can fit whole fruits and vegetables.  It’s a huge benefit not to have to cut up your apples before you add them to the juicer.

Juicers can also be bought second hand, or sometimes found on freecycle.  This would be a great way to try juicing without a financial outlay.

Juicing Vs Smoothies

I haven’t written a post about green smoothies yet (that’s coming soon), but it seems some people question whether it’s best to juice vegetables or blend them.

The answer seems to be that there are benefits to both, and I am currently including both in my diet.  Juices are easy to digest, and provide a concentrated shot of micronutrients, while smoothies contain the whole vegetable/fruit, including fibre and phytonutrients found in the skin.  You can also add protein and healthy fats to  smoothies to provide a meal in a glass.

My Juicing Experience

I’ve been juicing for about 18 months now.  It was something my nutritionist suggested.  At the time I was struggling with adrenal fatigue, despite taking supplements.  My nutritionist suggested that a vegetable juice, containing ginger, in the afternoon would give my adrenals an extra boost.

I was sceptical and had a few concerns about juicing.  I had tried juicing, once, several years ago when I bought a food processor with a juicing attachment.  I remember  the juicing process was difficult and messy and I did not enjoy drinking the resulting carrot and apple juice.

After talking things through with my nutritionist, we came up with a plan;  I would contact my friend Amber at LoveFit – I was pretty sure she’d have a juicer (and I was right)- and ask if she could make me a juice, letting me watch her make it and clean the juicer afterwards.  I was concerned that I did not have the energy to make the juice and clean the juicer afterwards.

Amber made me a carrot, apple and ginger juice, and it was surprisingly pleasant.  She explained that as long as you clean the juicer immediately it’s not a lot of effort.   I then bought a cheap centrifugal juicer and started juicing for myself.  Initially I could only juice on my good days, and I had quite a few days where I simply didn’t have the energy to make it.  Gradually though (as with most activities) it became something I managed more frequently and eventually everyday.

I also slowly changed my juice until it contained more vegetables and less fruit, with a focus on green leafy vegetables.  After a year of juicing consistently I splashed out on an Omega Vert Masticating Juicer.  I bought this second hand on Ebay, but it was still expensive. However, this gets much more juice out of produce, especially green leafy vegetables, and apparently more enzymes are retained in the juice.  I currently juice nearly every day, usually mid afternoon, and I currently get a noticeable increase in energy afterwards, which is helpful when I’m preparing dinner.  I did not get this energy burst when I first started juicing, it’s a relatively recent thing, and one I’m grateful for.


I’ve been struggling with constipation since June 2013.  It’s a pain in the ass (literally), but compared to where I’ve come from, dealing with a bit of constipation seems a relatively minor issue.  I tend to suffer a bout of constipation, get it under control, have some normal bowel movements and think I’ve solved the problem, but then it comes back.  My nutritionist suggested tracking my constipation in relation to my monthly cycle to see if there’s a hormonal link; I couldn’t see any.

I’m working on improving my bowel movements via my diet (more on that soon). I suspect my sugar consumption has not been helping. In the meantime here are some natural constipation remedies which should get your bowels moving if you need a bit of help.

  • Drink 8 cups of warm fluid every day. Include soups and herbal tea.
  • Eat 2 of these a day: asparagus, black sesame seed, cabbage, coconut, figs, flaxseed, papaya, pea, prune or sweet potato
  • Make time! Eat regularly, sit on the toilet regularly and relax, allow 15 minutes bathroom time twice a day to retrain your bowels.
  • Increase the quantity of healthy fat in your diet; try eating more coconut oil, olive oil or avocado.
  • Drink Aloe Vera Juice – I use Pukka, which my nutritionist says is the most palatable, although it’s still not pleasant. I have 3 tablespoons a day.

If you need a bit of extra help then try this Flax* and Prune Mousse:

Put two heaped dessert spoons of flax seed in a small bowl. Cover with half a cup of pressed prune juice. Leave to soak for 12 hours (overnight) and eat with a spoon. Repeat once or twice a day until regular bowel movements are restored. Drink adequate water when including flax seeds in your diet.

Magnesium can help with constipation, and also has other benefits for ME/CFS sufferers.  I have found epsom salt baths – epsom salts are magnesium sulphate – very helpful for muscle aches, and when I took magnesium citrate** to ease my constipation I found my restless legs disappeared completely.

*Flax seeds are also known as linseeds

** Please note that I do not have any medical or functional medicine qualifications, this is based on my own experience, and if you follow this suggestion you do so at your own risk.