How to Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis with Diet

How to Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis with Diet

Which foods are good for me?

Even when I was first diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis back in 1993, I suspected that diet had an impact on the levels of inflammation in my body. Could I manage Rheumatoid Arthritis with diet? I was told again and again by my rheumatologists that diet was irrelevant and would make no difference whatsoever. Unfortunately, my skin was erupting in hives all over my body, and my eyes and lips were swelling up on a regular basis. It was clear that the foods I was ingesting certainly were affecting me. I had food intolerance testing and avoided the main culprits, but was never exactly clear on what I needed to avoid. The tests were rather unreliable and my intolerances seemed to change depending on how stressed I was. And so this went on for many years.. until I found a healing foods diet.

Time for a radical change:

 

At the end of 2014, my energy levels had reached an all-time low, and in addition to the joint pain, I was experiencing brain fog which was affecting my daily activities. I had been 95% dairy and gluten-free for decades but now I was at rock bottom and needed a plan of action. I found out that even one accidental (or intentional!) ingestion of gluten can affect the body for months, so it was time to be 100% gluten-free.

Also, when I went 100% lactose-free, my true sensitivity to it became apparent. I started reading up and researching more online. I found a whole wealth of information about various diets that people had been employing to calm the inflammation in their bodies whilst enjoying substantial relief from their chronic illness symptoms. This was a paradigm shift for me as up to then I had been accepting my fate of pain and ever-increasing amounts of medications. Now I could really take responsibility for my health.

Beginning is the hardest part…

 

I started out on a Whole 30 cleanse which is 30 days of clean eating to reset the system. Even though my diet was pretty good already I certainly experienced detox symptoms. Especially on day 3/4 when I could see blue zigzagging lines in my peripheral vision and could barely walk up the drive to the house! Those symptoms soon eased and I started to feel fantastic! I had a huge boost of energy and finished the 30 days feeling motivated and better than I had done in 10 years.

Next, I moved onto the Autoimmune Protocol Diet and I am still on a modified version of the AIP diet 3 years later. There have of course been ups and downs. I have tried reintroducing egg yolks (definite no) and successfully added in almonds (woo hoo!). Early on I had to stop with the coconut (apart from coconut oil) as I realised I couldn’t tolerate it, and yes, I thought I would be eating more foods by now!

It took a while for it to dawn on me that healing my leaky gut and normalising all of my allergic responses was going to take quite a while! However, I have been able to reduce my conventional medication and am feeling better so I know I am on the right track.

A work in progress…

How to Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis with Diet:

I have done a Whole 30 every year now, as sugar, wine and dark chocolate keep creeping in and I know they don’t agree with me. I am now under the care of a great Functional Medicine nutritionist. With her help, now that I have eliminated my parasites, we are working towards healing my leaky gut lining, keeping inflammation low, balancing my thyroid, eliminating copper toxicity and working with my peri-menopausal symptoms. I am still on my AIP diet though with a few re-introductions.

My Rheumatoid arthritis is well controlled, my endometriosis is improving and my energy levels are better. Moving house in the summer has really helped with that. I think the black mould in our old house was a big factor in my fatigue whilst living there. I would definitely recommend working with a Functional Medicine Practitioner to help you manage Rheumatoid Arthritis with diet but also to support you in identifying any other pathogens or toxins that may be slowing down your healing. If you don’t have one nearby you may be able to have an online consultation. Check out The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Give it a go!

For anyone who is considering making a life change for the better…I wholeheartedly recommend doing a Whole 30 or similar. Even if it is just for those 30 days, it’s only one month of your life to try a new way of being. My guess is, you will never look back…

It is a great way to get started on adopting the Autoimmune Diet as a longer-term plan. Many people have had success with this as a way to manage their autoimmune conditions and although it is tough and takes a lot of dedication and planning. It is worth it! There many fantastic websites and resources for learning more how to manage Rheumatoid Arthritis with diet and I encourage you to visit them and do your research. Knowledge is power!

 

Check out these resources:

Phoenix Helix

Autoimmune Wellness

The Paleo Mom

 

Don’t Give Up!

Don’t Give Up!

Crazy Summer Curveball

 

Writing this I feel like I am trudging through mud but I keep hearing in my head “Don’t give up!”. This lovely blog that I worked so hard at and enjoyed designing has been untended for six whole months. Just when I felt like I was getting going, the curveball of us having to move house happened. What I couldn’t have predicted was that we would struggle to find a house for six weeks and end up living in temporary accommodation for the summer. Moving house is stressful enough as it is! Having your family’s possessions stored in 5 different places across the county is very challenging, to say the least. We had to leave the temporary home twice as it was booked by others and there were times when we had two vehicles full to bursting with stuff (time to downsize perhaps?) as we spent the night in a family hotel room. I am eternally grateful that we were able to find a roof over our heads on those nights. We are the lucky ones. I have always had a great concern for the issues of homelessness but now I have a more acute vision of what that could feel like.

So I am not going to rant on about letting agents fees and requirements and the lack of affordable housing but instead just take a few moments to write about resilience. When we knew we had to move we made a family vision board. Amazingly, the house we had imagined appeared for viewing within a few days. We loved it but then all sorts of financial and practical issues got in the way which meant that we viewed many other houses (some of which were barely fit for habitation yet still at extortionate rents!). Time marched on through the summer weeks as the boys and I tried to make the best of a very strange summer holiday. The start of term at my eldest son’s new school was getting uncomfortably close. Of course, we wanted to be settled before then and so the temptation to take a house in a location and condition we weren’t happy with was strong. The tension was mounting and the September weather was moving in.

Don’t give up!

 

We didn’t give up. It was nail-biting and my poor husband had his head in his hands a few times. The kids had to start school and then we managed to pull it all together (only with the help of friends and family mind you..thank you dear ones) and we moved into our lovely home. The very same house we saw first at the beginning of the summer. It was meant for us!
The only way I got through this was by meditating daily and putting my trust in the divine that all would be well for us. I feel that my positive attitude brought our home to us.

What about my blog?

So this situation engulfed the whole summer. Consequently, there was an inevitable break in the blogging as I didn’t have access to a computer. Then we were settling into our new home and Christmas was upon us. So there has also been some procrastination and some doubt as I had lost momentum. My blog readership is still minuscule and that can be disheartening.
So I did feel like giving up on it. I have been spending time “arting” and making a new website for my healing work. (Check it out here guys Holistic Sound)  I have read articles about neglected blogs that were not terribly encouraging and made me feel like a failure as they talk about lack of posting as if it is a death sentence.
 

Well, I am back.

I have realised that I am not about to give up on the blog. I didn’t give up on the house. There is a lot of valuable information on this blog and lots more to come. I am going to be focusing more on the creative aspects of healing from Chronic Illness as that is what gives me the most joy. There may not be a post every single week as I am myself navigating the ups and downs of family life, and that is ok, in fact, it is good enough! There is no commandment saying how often thou must blog!

Resilience

Resilience is adapting to adversity. Toddlers show resilience when they try to walk for the 27th time after 26 falls and resilience is what I need to tap into now to rescue my blog. It can be applied to Chronic Illness also. Sometimes it can feel like you are just moving from one symptom to another and the pain, discomfort and fatigue compound with interest. Trying to keep a positive attitude despite it all (whilst of course, making time and space for feeling and processing your negative emotions) helps you bounce back and wake up in the morning with a renewed sense of hope. There are solutions… and support… and miracles…
 
I always was a bit stubborn 😃

Music as Medicine can Help you Feel Well

Music as Medicine can Help you Feel Well

Music is magnificent. Music as medicine is free of all unpleasant side-effects! It can sooth, relax, enliven, energise and move us to dance. It evokes memories, provides an atmosphere, enhances a celebration, sends a message and facilitates the expression of our emotions. Music can help us journey to other worlds, create imagery, bring people together, and even shift energy blockages.

Music as medicine
I often take music for granted but it is something I am actually truly grateful for. Playing instruments was a big part of my childhood and teenage years.
I can remember practising for music exams an hour each day and finding it so calming and meditative. That was before I even knew what meditation was! I am sad I haven’t carried that on into adulthood, although there is still time to get back on that horse, even though it doesn’t feel like it!
There was a time in my 20s when I realised that I wasn’t at ease unless there was some background noise, such as the radio or television. I was aware that this was not healthy to be uncomfortable with silence, so I made a conscious effort to switch everything off and I grew to really love silence. In the years that followed, I was training in sound therapy and was very focused on sound but still did not listen to any music at home anymore. It didn’t hold any interest for me anymore strangely and I seemed to be more attuned to pure frequencies, so would enjoy toning, drumming and playing my singing bowls at home but again was mostly in silence.
Then one day we had to pick a few pieces of music to listen to as homework for the course. We had to lie down with closed eyes and really listen to the tracks with every part of our being. It was a very moving experience and I had profound emotions, sensations and memories arising whilst listening. It reminded me of the power that music holds and I have brought it back into my life again at times when it feels right. However, mostly I have to admit I am still quite hooked on the silence when I am at home. Maybe it is a response to a noisy family life!

As a trained sound therapist I have experienced the power of sound to heal first hand and witnessed my clients having breakthroughs physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. In 2013 Lyz Cooper of BAST (British Academy of Sound Therapy) teamed up with Marconi Union to produce a piece of music. The intention was to make the track as relaxing as possible. The scientific research done on the track afterwards showed that it was the most relaxing piece of music they had found. Amazing! The track was embedded with healing frequencies and rhythms that sound therapists use regularly. It was interesting to me that even played through digital music players, the effects of the sacred sound frequencies still had the power to relax the listener very significantly.

 

Here is the full length 31 minute extended version of the track if you would like to kick back and have a listen.

Prepare to be very very relaxed!!

 

 

This year Lyz Cooper produced another track with duo Silence & Air to help people enjoy a restful sleep. I was part of the research study group and I have to say that when I listened to it before bed it definitely helped get to sleep quickly and have a deep restful sleep. The results of the research on this track were also highly significant. You can learn more about the study here and listen to the track for yourself. For more information about ways in which to enjoy restful sleep, have a look at my post on 8 easy ways to get more rest.
Music as mecicine

Examples of music as medicine:

I have a wonderful friend who has sadly experienced ME/CFS and PTSD amongst other physical imbalances of many years. She decided in the last year to take up her practice of piano playing again after having not played for many years. Therapy, acupuncture and hypnotherapy led her to this point of being able to clear the blocks that were stopping her from playing. Her experience has been that the playing of music has incredibly healing for her.
She has shared that it helped her unlock her heart blockages and release fear and trauma. It helped her express her emotions non-verbally and stimulated her creativity when she was improvising. She also finds the regularity and stability of practising pieces and scales very balancing and comforting. I wonder if she has benefited from the right/left brain balancing that is inherent in playing with both hands as she says that she finds it easier to focus and her brain fog has lessened. She has also built up some strength in her hands and wrists which previously caused her a lot of pain. It has brought her a purpose for living again when confined to indoors with ME so much of the time. Of course, the music that arises also brings her joy, as it did me when I heard her playing her beautiful pieces.
“Sound is the force of creation, the true whole. Music then, becomes the voice of the great cosmic oneness and therefore the optimal way to reach this final state of healing.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927)
 
Music as mecicine
I know of another young man who used his music to survive his schizophrenia. It helped him push the voices away and soothed his troubled mind at a time when his medication was not working well. For him, music was essential to help him navigate his illness.
My husband Anthony has always played the guitar and spent many happy years busking on his travels. Since we have been together I have always noticed that when he is feeling down, he will pick up his guitar and play and sing and it soothes and uplifts him. I think that the guitar is especially healing in this way as the vibrations emanate directly from the body of the guitar which is resting on the player’s abdomen.
Music as mecicine

My vision of music as medicine in the future:

The future of medicine could be the application of sound frequencies to clear blockages and restore healthy energy. Imagine a device installed in your home that would scan your bodies energy and then emit the frequencies you needed to rebalance yourself embedded in a piece of relaxing music that would be played throughout your home. How cool would that be?!
“Eventually, musical therapists will compose prescriptions after the manner of a pharmacist…”
Dr. Ira Altschuler (of the Eloise State Hospital) (1942)

Sign up below for blog news and upcoming bonuses!

The Trauma and Chronic Illness Connection

The Trauma and Chronic Illness Connection

Trauma is defined in the dictionary as ” a deeply distressing or disturbing experience”. Trauma and chronic illness are intimately linked as I will discuss in this post. I believe the peer-reviewed evidence of this is not being acted upon and taken forward by the medical profession.
Trauma is clearly a very stressful experience but it is important to remember that experiences are subjective. I think that there is a tendency for people to think of trauma as being caused by a very extreme situation. However, trauma experienced is very personal. What traumatises one person will not bother another.  It depends on our emotional make-up and sensitivities, and what can seem trivial to one person can be devastating for another. It is the individual’s experience of the event and their ability to cope with it that determines whether it is trauma or not.
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is not only a condition suffered by war veterans and accident survivors. It can affect anyone and many people who have lived “ordinary” lives have developed PTSD from events that are emotionally complex but not as outwardly dramatic as the better-known triggers of PTSD.
Everyone experiences trauma at some point in their lives. Traumas trigger reactive feelings and emotions, which form the beliefs that consciously and subconsciously underpin the way we live our lives. These beliefs create dense areas in our energy fields which can then lead to illness and disease.
trauma and chronic illness

More evidence is coming to light now about how trauma affects our health and some experts now believe that early trauma, in particular, is instrumental in the causation of chronic illness. Of course, it also can lead to substance dependence and mental health disorders. For some great information on trauma and chronic illness have a look at Veronique Mead’s blog Chronic Illness Trauma Studies. There is a wealth of well researched and groundbreaking information on the blog and I am looking forward to reading it in more depth.

Jennifer McLean who developed the Spontaneous Transformation Technique gives this example of how negative limiting beliefs can be formed from trauma.
trauma and chronic illness
She describes a young boy who is having a great day out playing with his skateboard. The sun is shining, he is getting the hang of his skateboard tricks and life is great. He is in bliss.

On the way home, he is playing with a stick as he walks, and he starts to run the stick along the fence, enjoying the noise as it clatters along the fence. The large dog on the other side of the fence is not so impressed and starts to bark furiously. The dog even manages to leap the fence and starts to attack the boy. Luckily, the owner quickly grabs the dog and rescues the boy. The poor boy is physically unhurt but is shocked and terrified. He runs home crying, leaving his skateboard on the pavement.

He gets home to his Mum who is up to her ears with making dinner for her large family. She scans the boy as he walks in, as he tries to breathlessly explain what has happened. She sees quickly that he is physically unhurt but when she finds out that his expensive skateboard is lost, she yells at him and sends him to his room in a rage.
trauma and chronic illness
Now the boy is still in “flight or fight” mode with adrenaline rushing through his body and he is really upset that he got a roasting from his Mum.
In this moment his subconscious creates some beliefs about life, for example:
Life is scary and unsafe.
Bliss doesn’t last and things go wrong when you are enjoying yourself. 
Things are more important than people.
 
This leads him to have issues later in life with trust, committing to relationships and being more interested in possessions than other people. Many other beliefs could also have been formed. This great example shows how even traumas from childhood that have been long forgotten, can still be running the show and causing multiple limiting beliefs that make life more challenging and frustrating.
Ideally, a child can respond to stress and recover from it, developing resiliency. However, chronic repeated stress in childhood constantly floods the child’s body with stress hormones and keeps it in a hypervigilant inflammatory state. It can interfere with the child’s ability to turn off or dampen the stress response. The cascade of chemical reactions that occur in the child’s body on a regular basis can then predispose them to disease and imbalances on every level of being.
I have done an enormous amount of work on myself in releasing trauma and the limiting beliefs formed from my early and young adult life and it has helped my health and well-being enormously. There are more to clear and I have been somebody who held literally hundreds of negative limiting beliefs about life and myself. I am reassured now though, as I am able to use my therapy skills to clear these blockages and open my arms to greater health, happiness, joy and abundance.
trauma and chronic illness

 

Here are some examples of therapies or techniques that release trauma and limiting beliefs:

I personally prefer techniques that work with trauma from an energetic healing perspective rather than a psychological so that is what i have listed here. I feel that these therapies are more holistic and provide deeper transformation more quickly and easily than psychological methods. They don’t require reliving the trauma in an upsetting way or analysing the psychological aspects of the trauma which can be mentally exhausting. That is just my preference, however, and one can find many other models of therapy online should you resonate with a different path. For more information on using energy medicine to improve chronic illness see my post on energy healing here.

 

trauma and chronic illness

The need to acknowledge the role of trauma in the aetiology of disease:

Research linking childhood stress to adult illness was carried out in 1996 with the “The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study)”. Over 1500 peer-reviewed studies have replicated these findings in the last 20 years.
Amazingly, in this study carried out in 2009, they found that compared with persons with no ACEs, persons with >or=2 ACEs had 100% increased risk for rheumatic diseases. Childhood traumatic stress increases the likelihood of hospitalisation with a diagnosed autoimmune disease decades into adulthood.
The research is extensive, widespread and conclusive but yet there is little focus on the importance of this root cause of disease in the conventional healthcare system. There are so many excellent techniques, energetic and psychological therapies available now to deal with the roots of trauma and chronic illness. I would like to see this being more widely available and focused upon by medical practitioners, as I believe it is a crucial part of the puzzle when it comes to resolving chronic diseases, giving people hope and a brighter future.

Please comment below if you feel trauma has contributed to your Chronic Illness.

How to keep that holiday feeling!

How to keep that holiday feeling!

I just had the pleasure of a holiday in Gran Canaria with my family. We were given the opportunity to stay in a five-star hotel by an incredibly generous friend and it was wonderful. (Thank you, dear friend).  Of course, there were the usual family holiday calamities, one son with a 24hr fever and sickness, another son with a sprained ankle and my husband giving himself a whiplash injury and misaligned vertebrae after being dared to ride the “Take-off” waterslide at the waterpark on our last day. Needless to say, he took off. Then he landed. He was in a lot of pain for over a week, bless him. Amazingly, for once, I was the one that stayed well and injury-free. It might have something to do with the fact that I barely left my sun lounger but hey, I was practising relaxing! Now that I am back home, I am practising hanging on to that lovely holiday feeling and it is challenging!
holiday feeling
So we had a lovely time (mostly) and had begun to sink into a more relaxed way of being after 10 days. It can take a while to slow down from the crazy pace of modern life but we were enjoying that process. Lots of sunbathing, swimming and a few glasses of Rosé definitely helped! Also, the little health setbacks meant that we couldn’t do many day trips and so were forced to just spend more time around the pool, and reading on the balcony which was no hardship!
 “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”           John Lubboc 
holiday feeling

Time to go home!

Here is how to know your holiday is over!

1) Mess up by only downloading 1 boarding card onto your phone the night before leaving.
2) Have the lady at the check-in desk (of a well-known budget Irish airline) insist on you removing 3 kg from your case despite the flight being less than half full. (How I love to open my case full of laundry and medicines for all the queue to see at 5.30am.)
3) Have the lady at the check-in desk put one case through but not the other as only one boarding pass on your phone.
4) Make sure your phone starts to get buggy and malfunction, and the airport wifi is chronically intermittent.
6) Start to panic as time is marching on.
7) Watch helplessly as three guys with surfboards to check-in are next in line.
8) Watch more time tick past as you frustratingly try to download the airline app the lady is insisting on you having.
9) Start feeling like crying as your children watch you getting more stressed and panicky.
10) Finally get to the front of the queue again to be told the gate is closing despite the fact you have been stood there for an hour trying to sort it out.
11) Scoot over to the main desk with teary wide-eyed children to plead with the irritated flight manager. Cue angry phone conversation in Spanish.
12) Run back to the check-in desk to finally receive boarding cards and sprint to the gate, as best you can with injured family members and stiff joints.
13) Breathlessly explain to the non-plussed, chilled and smiley gate attendant your 60-second version of events, to be told that the gate is still open and not to worry!! Grr!
14) Spend the first 60 mins of your flight deep breathing to normalise your adrenaline levels and calm the hell down.
15) Land back home with the sketchiest bumpiest touchdown ever!
16) Travel on 4 separate trains to get back home with kids, footballs and multiple bags in tow.
17) Send your husband off to the chiropractor and sit down with a cup of tea to open your mail.
18) Open the first letter to find out that you have been given 2 months notice to move out of your house …

Welcome Home!

Was it worth it?
Of course!
(After all, it wasn’t quite as stressful as the time we went to Portugal and our eldest son developed concussion two hours before we were due to leave for our return flight. Cue an ambulance ride, lots of explanations in bad Spanish from us, a crazy rushed drive to the airport, followed by us hurriedly cleaning vomit from the hire car at the last minute! But hey that’s a whole other story!)
holiday feeling

How to keep that holiday feeling!

So, I have decided to do the following to keep my holiday feeling going (despite everything!):

  • Get outside in the sun as often as possible, but also whatever the weather.
  • Be in nature, forests and by the sea often.
  • Eat outside when possible and make new exotic recipes.
  • Go swimming as often as possible. (We have a new Lido that has opened up near us that we can go and check out.)
  • Make Mocktails so that you are having fun drinks, but without the excess alcohol.
  • Stay away from too much telly and devices.
  • Keep reading more as it is very relaxing, enjoyable and creatively stimulating.
  • Go on some day trips to new places.
  • Get some of your best holiday photos printed and in frames so that you can enjoy the memories.
  • Do things each day that make you happy!

 

Sign up for my free newsletter below!

Pin It on Pinterest