Tag Archives: diet

127/365 – Time to detox

I’ve had a few very busy weeks in and out of work. With a good friend of mine down to stay for a week, a trip up to Edinburgh, starting a new volunteering adventure and working long hours to prepare for the election/new administration, I’ve been feeling worn out. Due to this lack of time to myself and lack of energy, I’ve been eating poorly. My gluten and dairy free diet has been put on hold while I’ve just been grabbing whatever is most convenient. I’ve been living on ready meals, packet sushi and sugar fixes. As a result, my body has felt poisoned and I’ve noticed a difference in my mood, my energy levels, my attention span and my performance when I’ve been training. 

This weekend I’ve decided to cut back on the rubbish I’ve been eating and try to get back to the health kick I was on just a month ago. Even if it doesn’t last right through next week, when work gets mad with the new administration, I’ll feel better for giving my body the nourishment it needs.


53/365 – Struggling with the new diet

As it’s been 15 days since my diet update, it’s time to admit that I’ve been struggling with the new gluten free and dairy free lifestyle. 

With work picking up and my evenings and weekends filled with exercising and catching up with friends and family, it’s been really tough to maintain. 

One of the easiest ways to socialise in this cold weather is to go out for dinner. In the last fortnight I’ve eaten out more times than I had in the rest of January and February put together (a whopping six times). This is due to having visitors (which I love) and my London friends suddenly feeling sociable again after the January blues/skints. In my experience so far, restaurants are generally terrible at providing GF/DF options – the one exception to this is my new favourite London Tapas place, The Port House. However, I’ve not been seeking out the healthy options either – on Monday night I went for a cheese burger in one of our local pubs. Not exactly the closest option to GF/DF.

Alongside eating out, with my days becoming busy again, finding time to shop in health food stores for specialist products has become more difficult. Finding time to prepare dinners for the next day and to research new recipes has also become a struggle.

I think this is a key point – rather than expecting these things to happen magically, I’m going to have to be proactive, and plan time in my weekly schedule, if I want to continue with the GF/DF.  

I’ve also found with tiredness setting in, I tend to get more tempted for sugary gluten and dairy treats during the late afternoon slump and in the late evening. Today I plan to spread my ample snacks out better so I have something sweet, probably my dairy free dark chocolate, left come 3.30pm when the cravings start. 

So how am I feeling about the slip?

I’m trying to be kind to myself as I’m not even a month into the new job. Thankfully I’ve not gone off the rails completely and, while the slips have been more regular of late, I’m still predominantly eating GF/DF. 

Now that I’ve acknowledged the struggles, hopefully with better planning, less food related socialising and a bit of willpower I’ll be able to continue with the experiment to see how it affects the myasthenia gravis. At this point, I don’t think it’s fair to say.

38/365 – Gluten and dairy free diet update

So 20 days after posting about rethinking what I eat, I thought I would give you an update about how I’ve been finding it.

Last month I decided to go dairy and gluten free, along with continuing to cut down on sugar, saturated fat and alcohol, to see if adopting this diet recommended by a nutritionist would help reduce my myasthenia symptoms.

How have I got on? Well, it’s been a mixed 20 days.

To be completely honest, I’ve tended to give myself a break from the gluten and dairy free diet on weekends. This is mainly as I have eaten out every weekend and finding something on the menu that fits the GF/DF existence, and sounds tasty, has been difficult.

For instance, on Friday I went to eat in London’s best burger bar, Tommi’s, as an end of first week in my new role treat. The gluten free option was a burger wrapped in lettuce – funnily enough I opted to break my gluten ban and have a bun. And I’m 100% glad I did.

Today I met up with my friend Kate who also has a gluten free diet. We went to Romeo’s cafe in Islington – a gluten free cafe and bakery. It was liberating for us both to be able to order anything from the menu – they have everything from chicken pie to gooey chocolate cake. I went for the pancakes below while Kate opted for the avocado on toast. Both were delicious.



What can I actually eat?
My initial reaction, when looking at labels of my favourite food, was why does everything I love contain dairy or gluten ? Thankfully, I’ve found replacements for things I ate a lot of before – quinoa for cous cous, almond milk for milk, soya yoghurt for natural yoghurt, gluten free noodles and pasta and even gluten and dairy free pesto.

The main things I’ve missed are real milk in my coffee, real yoghurt and coriander dressing and cheese. I’ve been actively avoiding the cheese section in shops.

One of the other recommendations is cutting down on animal protein so I’ve replaced meat where I can with seeds, beans, eggs and fish. I’ve opted for chicken, turkey and occasionally prosciutto when I do have any.


The slog of being prepared
If you don’t have time for shopping in specialist shops and to prepare meals, going gluten and dairy free and not starving is going to be hard.

While I’ve stuck to eating as healthy as much possible with the odd treat here and there, when I’ve inevitably not had time to prepare food, it’s been really difficult to find healthy options that meet the dietary requirements. The canteen in my new workplace does delicious soup, which is labeled for allergens, so on a couple of occasions I’ve defaulted to that. But there is also an unhealthy snack selection of DF/GF treats – on one day when I hadn’t brought in sufficient food I succumbed to the temptations of a coconut ring (and loved every bite).

Mostly though I’ve been reliable at making lunches and dinners that fit the diet.

I’ve found most of my local supermarkets are terrible at stocking GF/DF options, with the exception of the larger local Tescos. (Pictured below)


This has meant I’ve had the added hassle of traipsing into the centre of London to visit Whole Foods Market. Although I love having a browse in the different aisles and discovering new delights, now that I’m back at work it is more difficult to fit in. Luckily, yesterday while I was out for a walk, I discovered an organic shop much closer to home which worked out cheaper than the Central London store.

Better skin
My skin looks a lot healthier than it did before my new diet. While that’s definitely to do with not being stressed at work and having a better skin care regime since Christmas, I think it’s also been helped by cutting down on the crap and getting more nutrients. In particular, cutting down on sugar has helped. Not only that, I feel my teeth are in a better state than they were when I would easily binge on a sharing bag of minstrels/buttons/revels…insert chocolate here. I have continued to allow myself a couple of squares of dark chocolate whenever I feel a craving and I bought a couple of a dairy free alternatives this week to try.

Weight loss
A positive side effect of the diet is losing a couple of extra kilos I had put on over Christmas. While losing weight isn’t an objective, it’s a positive feeling to be a bit more toned. Obviously this has been helped by the exercise regime and I feel much better training after eating healthily. Today I’m pictured on my first outdoor run of 2015 – I did 8km and felt like I could do another round.

How much longer?
I’ve actually not found the diet too hard, probably because I’m not being fanatical about it. I think I will try another month to see how I feel. If I continue to see an improvement in my symptoms – my eyes are better at the moment – I’ll think about making a full switch permanently. I can’t see a reason not to when I’m feeling happier and healthier for it.

18/365 – Rethinking my diet

As I mentioned before, when I was first diagnosed with MG it took me a while to get my head around the consequences for my lifestyle (Thankfully I had some wonderful people around who helped me with that process)

What we found out online in those early, pre-consultant, days was highly scientific and therefore quite confusing for a person without a degree in medicine. We all know the danger of researching medical conditions online and MG is no different. Search for myasthenia gravis on google and you’re bombarded with doctor speak and rather disturbing images. I wanted to know about lifestyle factors – as far as I was concerned the doctors would take care of the medical side of business.

Most importantly, I was keen to learn how changes in my diet could positively affect the condition. I was looking for scientific studies about just that – unfortunately I found no such thing.

Online there is advice from dieticians, which focuses on eating foods that are easy for your body to process as it would already be working hard to deal with the medication and the symptoms. There was also a lot of advice about reducing fatigue when eating. This is an example – an article with tips about reducing risk when eating- as is this which talks a little too much about diarrhoea for my liking. You can imagine these both made terrifying reading for someone who only had issues with their eyes.

When digging a bit deeper, my research did reveal that quinine, found in tonic water, and low potassium levels can aggravate MG symptoms. I also found that to combat long term steroid use, you should ensure lots of calcium and vitamin d in your diet or via supplements.

Then I came across this advice from physician and author Dr. Andrew Weil’s website:

Reduce protein intake to 10% of total calories, no more milk and milk products, eat more fruits and vegetables, cut polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening etc, use extra-virgin olive oil instead, eat foods high in potassium and increase your omega-3, intake.

This advice is based on ridding your diet of foods that cause inflammation (animal protein, fats, milk products) and replacing them with foods that ease inflammation (omega 3 and fresh fruit and vegetables).

I also read in a website recommended by a kind reader that Dr Weil also suggests cutting down on gluten and wheat.

When I was first diagnosed, I decided to adapt my diet to make it gluten and wheat free. Sadly, I didn’t give this adaption a fair chance to work as other factors in my life, including drinking too much, smoking and not getting enough sleep, prevented it from doing the good that it may have.

Between then and now, my diet has been occasionally good and often atrocious. Since January, I’ve eaten healthier than ever before – cutting out the sugary snacks and eating a balanced diet focused on a 50% carb, 30% fat and 20% protein split. I’ve already dropped 0.7kg in 10 days and, most importantly, I’m feeling really strong.

As I’m only allowing myself to have very limited alcohol at present, I’ve long given up the cigarettes and my sleeping patterns are much healthier, I’ve decided the time is right to give Dr Weil’s diet a chance. It’s recommended to try the above approach for a month to see if there are any improvements in symptoms so I’ll keep the blog updated.


4/365 – Health kick

Like almost everyone else, one of my new year’s resolutions is to take better care of myself in 2015. This includes eating healthier, implementing a new exercise regime, trying to get 8 hours of sleep a night and having a dry-ish January (excluding my best mates’ birthday and my leaving do).

Today was my first gym session of 2015 and I thought I better make it count. With a 1.5km warm up run, 3.5km of interval sprint training, a 15 min tabata abs and chest circuit (20 secs on, 10 secs off x6 per exercise), 6 rounds on the punch bag, a glutes circuit and 8 mins of tabata bike sprints to finish, I was almost crawling home.

Healthy dinners, turkey in a yoghurt and coriander sauce with sweet potato mash, can still have a sprinkling of cheese.
Healthy dinners, turkey in a yoghurt and coriander sauce with sweet potato mash, can still have a sprinkling of cheese.

Saying that, I was once again reminded of the rejuvenating power of exercise as I returned to the world full of energy and motivation despite feeling run down when I arrived. One of the drugs I am on suppresses my immune system, so I can often feel sniffly but nothing gives the body a natural boost like a tough workout.

Having an exercise regime is such an important part of my strategy for coping with MG. A consultant once told me that one of his patients manages to be medication-free because of her commitment to fitness and, being a tad competitive, I thought I’m going to do that too. Hopefully, along with a cleaner diet (normally my downfall), better sleep, and no booze, I should start to see some results.