Category Archives: helpful foods

Cabbage Juice Stinks

I saw this great post about cabbage juice at the Whole Body Health and Fitness Blog.

I’ve tried some of the slow cooker recipes from this site and they’ve been really successful (enjoyed not just by me, but the whole family).  So, when I read about the cabbage juice, despite thinking that it did not sound like it would end in a tasty drink, I decided to give it a try.

I’m willing to do quite a lot to gain all the health benefits listed in the original article: there were 17 separate bullet points.

However, even before I took the lid off the pot (3 days after setting up the mixture) I had been wondering why the kitchen smelt funny.  Once I removed the lid, the reason became clear.  The juice smelled REALLY bad.  Despite the smell I did try and drink a spoonful of it, but I could taste/smell the stuff for a good hour afterwards and it made me slightly nauseous.  Perhaps my container did not have a tight enough lid, or perhaps I forgot to add the salt, or perhaps it’s always like that.  I do know that this experiment was a fail and this is one healthy drink that I won’t be partaking of.

A Low GI Diet

One thing that most nutrition advice agrees on is that a low GI diet is better than a high GI diet.  Even the NHS ME/CFS clinic I attended recommended a low GI diet, and they didn’t give much nutritional guidance at all.

What is the GI?

GI = Glycemic Index.  The Glycemic Index is a measure of the speed at which carbohydrates break down in our digestive system into glucose. Glucose is indexed at 100 and all other foods are calculated against this.  For example cornflakes, which contain mainly carbohydrate, are digested quickly and have a GI of 77, whilst yoghurt has a much lower GI of 14.

Why is it Important?

Some carbohydrates break down quickly and flood the bloodstream with glucose, others break down more slowly, only marginally increasing blood sugar levels. (High GI foods increase blood sugar faster and higher than low GI foods).

In my post on sugar I explained how sugar causes a spike in blood glucose levels. Our body responds to this by releasing insulin, which reduces the level of glucose by diverting it into body tissues for short term use or storing it as fat. The surge of glucose followed by the rapid drain leaves us starved of energy, so we search for another sugar fix to bring us out of the slump. By knowing whether a food is high GI or low GI we can understand whether it is likely to increase our insulin levels.

Fat and protein can slow down the rapid absorption of carbohydrates in our digestive system.  Hence foods with higher fat content tend to have a lower GI.  For example whole milk has a lower GI than skimmed milk.

Is all low GI food good for us?

I’m sure you can guess the answer to this: No!

Whilst we should all avoid the highest GI foods (sugar and refined grains), just because a food is low GI does not mean it’s OK to eat huge amounts of. There are other things we need to consider:

  • Do I have a food allergy/bad reaction to this food?
  • Is this food inflammatory? (more information in a future post)
  • Is this food nutrient dense?
  • Am I eating a variety of foods?

What are the main recommendations of the GI diet?

  • Avoid heavily processed foods (these tend to have a high GI)
  • focus on low GI “slow release” foods
  • Eat plenty of wholegrains – many of the recipes add wheat bran
  • Eat regularly  – 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day
  • aim for your plate to have 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 protein and 1/4 wholegrains
  • avoid alcohol
  • drink plenty of water
  • eat plenty of vegetables
  • exercise is not essential for weight loss, but is good for long term health

I have the GI diet book by Rick Gallop.  Some of the thinking in the book seems outdated, particularly as to which fats we should be consuming. Many of the recipes rely on the addition of wheat bran as additional fibre, to lower the GI of the food.  I have a post about gluten sensitivity which explains the problems that gluten (found in wheat) can cause.   However, there are plenty of naturally low GI foods that we can eat without wheat.

My Experience

I first discovered the GI diet after having my second child.  I wanted to loose the “baby” weight and following the low GI diet worked really well for me.  I enjoyed the food, wasn’t hungry and it was a diet that the whole family could eat (except the baby).  I have recently learned that our family carries the gene for coeliac disease (I don’t yet know whether I have this gene).  As such, with hindsight, adding additional wheat bran into our food was not good for my family. My daughter and I currently follow a gluten free diet and hence avoid wheat.  However, there are plenty of low GI foods that we can, and should include in our diet.


The GI diet has lots of positive aspects, and much of the dietary advice agrees with advice from other diets e.g. my foods to eat more of and foods to eat less of posts. It is a good idea to avoid foods with a high GI, and it’s no coincidence that these are the highly processed foods: white flour, bread, cakes, sugar etc, which every healing diet I’ve read about recommends we avoid. However, whether a food is low GI is not the only criteria we should consider when we decide whether or not to consume it.

The Wahls Protocol

“The power of healing is within you. All you need to do is give your body what it needs and remove what is poisoning it. You can restore your own health by what you do—not by the pills you take, but by how you choose to live. When you eat and live in accordance with the needs of your cells, your body can finally concentrate on healing, and that is when the dramatic changes will happen for you.”

Dr Terry Wahls

I saw Dr Terry Wahl’s TEDx talk Minding Your Mitochondria a few months ago.  If you haven’t seen it yet I suggest you check it out.

Here’s a quick bullet point summary

  • Dr Wahls has MS
  • She went from using a tilt recline wheelchair to being able to walk unaided, cycle 30 miles and horseback ride.
  • She did all this via changes in diet, meditation electrical stimulation of her muscles and self massage.
  • She recommends eating a paleo diet with 3 cups of green vegetables, 3 cups of sulphur rich vegetables(cabbage and onion family, mushrooms and asparagus) and 3 cups of colourful vegetables each day.

She is proof that the functional medicine approach to chronic disease works and she is now working on clinical trials to prove it to the wider medical community. In the meantime she’s sharing the information she has learned in a new book: The Wahls Protocol.  I’ve pre-ordered it and I’m looking forward to reading it next month.

Meanwhile if you’re struggling with ME/CFS, MS or any other chronic disease I hope her TED talk gives you hope that things can change.


Banana Protein Pancakes with Berries and Yoghurt

This post is dedicated to my friend Ang who is making a real effort to eat healthily and has found porridge and IBS do not mix.  Oats, and most other grains, are included in my foods to eat less of list, but there’s plenty of other great foods to eat for breakfast.

This is my favourite breakfast at the moment.  I don’t have it every day, because I’ve been advised by my nutritionist to ensure I eat a variety of different foods.

Banana Protein Pancakes with Berries and yoghurt

Banana Protein Pancakes with Berries and Yoghurt



  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1 scoop plain whey protein powder (vanilla or chocolate flavoured would probably work, but I haven’t tried them)
  • coconut oil
  • a handful of berries (mine are frozen)
  • live natural yogurt.*


Mash the banana in a bowl, add the egg and protein powder and mix together with a fork to form a lumpy batter.

Heat a little coconut oil in a frying pan.  Add spoonfuls of the pancake mix to the pan to make approx 6 mini pancakes. Cook on medium heat.  Turn when bubbles form on the top of each pancake and the mixture is no longer liquid.

Serve with defrosted berries and yoghurt.

* I use home made yoghurt which has been fermented for 24 hours.  If you have a problem with dairy try goat’s or sheep’s milk yoghurt.


I’ve just been made aware of this amazing TED talk.

I highly recommend you sit somewhere comfy for 17 minutes and watch it.  What this lady has achieved by changing her diet is inspiring.

If you feel like reaching for a biscuit, cake or bread roll, watch this video first.

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.

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.

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 more of

Here is a list of foods that I have been recommended to include in my diet.  Most of this information comes from the nutrition section of Dr Christina Downing Orr’s book Beating Chronic Fatigue, with some supplementary advice from my nutritionist.

  • Lean Protein at every meal (chicken, turkey, lamb, offal, fish (inc. oily), eggs, nuts and seeds)
  • Green vegetables and salads
  • Water and herbal teas
  • Avacados
  • shitake mushrooms
  • Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin and flax)
  • fresh spices and herbs (ginger, garlic, cinamon and fresh herbs)
  • Natural yogurt from goat or sheeps milk
  •  Oat and rice milk
  • Extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Apples, plums, pears and berries
  • Endives and green leaves
  • Garlic, leeks, onions, shallots
  • Tempeh
  • If sleeping is an issue then include a small portion of whole brown rice or quinoa with evening meal
  • Aim for 1/3 protein to 2/3 carbohydrates for every meal.  Carbohydrates should be in the form of vegetables as much as possible

I challenge you to try something new and see how many of these foods you can include in your diet over the next 2 weeks.

In reviewing this list there are a few things that I need to work on.

If you want to know why I’m trying to eat plenty of these foods then keep reading.