Tag Archives: gluten free

84/365 – Small victories

Today was meant to be the start of my refocus on the exercise regime, gluten and dairy free diet and cutting down the amount of hours spent in the office. It didn’t start too well when my body refused my orders to get up this morning. After a shower and some healthy breakfast, I finally managed to get myself moving. As I walked to the bus stop, via the doctors for a prescription that had been sitting for a week, I realised I had a bit of energy back. In fact there was almost a spring in my step. When did all these cherry blossom trees on our road start flowering, I wondered. I felt ready and almost energetic – I could definitely do this. 

At lunch I made my weekly abs class (read torture session), followed by a quick run and body weight circuit. I had sushi for lunch and stuck to two cups of coffee. It was all going so well. 

Then I realised just how much work I had to do on top of an hour of e-learning for a course I’m attending tomorrow. Before I knew it, it was 9pm, I had munched through a bag of hula hoops and two mini cakes and I was about to attempt running part of the way home (in the blustery rain in the short shorts seen above).

I managed 3.5kms before deciding to call it a night. But, on a positive note, I made it to Wholefood superstore on the way home to get some healthy supplies (and avoided picking up the beer and banoffee cheesecake that were calling my name).

Some days you just have to celebrate the small victories like how much stronger I feel today compared with yesterday. 

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.

IMG_2848

IMG_2847

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.

IMG_2725

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.

Shopping
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)

IMG_2761

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.

2015/01/img_2484.jpg