March Update… The nutritional naturopath appointment

I am trying to get a post up at least once a month… but time is a tricky one!! All day, every day, I think about food! In amongst looking after and playing with the ever growing Seb. (This blog has been half written for over two weeks now!!)
I’m still getting to grips with making food in advance or in bulk – to be honest I’m getting pretty good at it, but it’s the fitting it in, with Seb… my worry is when I go to work, how much time will I have for shopping, and cooking… therefore I’m getting the practice in now!! I think I’ll have it to a ‘T’ by the time I’m back at work, as Seb will be older and I will be able to send him out with his dad for the day and crack on! I’m starting to get a few ‘favourites’ together, and they are SCRUMPTIOUS!! Still missing tomatoes, and spices… but what can you do?! Eat them and suffer, or avoid them and feel capable!! I have also, this week, begun fermenting my own drinks!! Last weekend, I went to watch a friend compete in a duathalon (run, cycle, run), and at the café nearby they sold kombucha (£2.30)… it was DELISCIOUS! So… I hunted down a SCOBY, and got onto it… my first brew is ready to start tasting on Thursday (19th March)!! I also dug out my water kefir grains, and have finally started to rehydrate them today… so another week, plus three brewing days and I should be ready to start drinking kefir too!! Can’t wait!!

First brew of kombucha!!

First brew of kombucha!!

I had planned to blog a couple of weeks ago before a nutritional naturopath appointment that I had… but time has got away with me, so instead of a precursor to the appointment, I will give you the summary instead!
The appointment was with a student from the College of Naturopathic Medicine, I had gone to an open day back in October with the hope of one day studying nutrition, and at the open day I got talking to one of the lecturers; she mentioned I should attend one of their student clinics – which costs £25 for an initial and £15 a follow up (which is considerably more affordable than the cost of going to a qualified naturopath!)
Prior to the appointment I got my GP to do some blood tests… I asked for Vit D, Mag RBC and inflammatory markers such as CRP, ESR… my GP was pretty receptive, however, they did my Mag serum, and my Vit D wasn’t back in time for the appointment!! So… not really hugely useful! Although it did throw up that I was significantly iron deficient.
I also had to fill in a history sheet and food diary for one week, that aspect was easy because I still keep a detailed diary, and send it on to her. Along with these, I also sent her some questions of my own regarding supplements (magnesium, probiotics, and multi-vits) and testing (stool testing, mineral balance).
Following the consultation these were her recommendations:
1) Chew, chew, chew
2) Ensure water is filtered, and not drunk around meal times
3) Increase beetroots, and leafy greens – methyl donors
4) Eat watercress, rocket, Endive, Chicory, or Artichoke before a meal to help the liver
5) Eat papaya/pineapple with food to help digestion
6) Ensure calcium rich foods – Bone stock, kale, cabbage, broccoli, brussle sprouts, figs and small boned fish
7) Avoid eating raw cabbage and cruciferous veg due to goitrogens
8) Add ginger and turmeric to foods to help with inflammation and gut mobility
9) Drink Cherry active or Tart cherry juice before bed for melatonin and mobilising uric acid
10) Add onions, mushrooms, pumpkin, squash, carrot, asparagus, avocado… not really sure why as I eat all of these in abundance!! Perhaps in the week that I sent my diary I didn’t have many?
11) Eat iron rich foods – liver, dark leafy greens, red meat, dried fruit (again, I already eat these)
12) Add 1g of wakame daily soaked in water
13) Add 1 Tbsp. ground in water in am and pm to help bulk stool
14) Increase exercise – walk x30 mins 2xday, Tai chi, yoga
15) Take Magnesium Glycinate 2 tablets 3xday
16) Take 1g of Bifibacterium Bifidus daily
17) Take 1 tsp of fish oil a day
18) Take Pregnancy Complex 2 tablets once a day
19) Take Hemagenics Iron 2 tablets once a day for 4 weeks, 1 tablet once a day for 4 weeks, then get iron levels re-checked

Well, it’s nearly a month since I went, and I haven’t yet got onto all the supplements, she did suggest a couple more, but said to hold off until we had my vit D levels back, and to hold off on bromelain until I see how the effects of papaya or pineapple work…
The reason I haven’t got started on all the supplements is that I didn’t want to start them all in one go then feel rubbish, or Seb have a reaction to something and me not know what it was. So I first started with the Iron, and typically, we both got struck down with diarrhoea… I don’t think it was anything to do with the iron, but as it started the same day as the iron, we stopped them until things cleared up… that took a couple of weeks. So then we went back on the iron, all good, then after a few days I added in the magnesium, a few days of that, then I added the probiotics (Or it may have been the other way around), few days, then I added the fish oil, few days of that… and as of tomorrow, I will add in the pregnancy multi-vit…

I have a few thoughts on the brands that they have recommended, and I may swap some stuff – for example the fish oil has rapeseed oil, and soya lecithin in it, amongst other things, so think I’ll change brand, probably for a cold pressed cod liver oil, when I’ve run out of this as I am working hard to eliminate those additives in my usual food.
I haven’t added the flax seed yet… dubious about that due to the problems AI conditions can have with seeds, again, I may try it as an introduction at a later date, however, it is to add bulk to my stools, and since adjusting a few other things (eating pineapple, rocket, chicory etc. before a meal, avoiding drinking at meals, wakame, filtering water, supplements) my bowel movements have been much better, so why rock the boat.

The advice regarding the food wasn’t hugely revolutionary. I was already doing most things, but it was a useful reminder on a few things, such as not drinking water with food, and to chew properly. Plus the information about rocket, chicory, etc. and pineapple/papaya was interesting, and does seem to have helped, plus the addition of wakame has helped get things moving too!

So how do I feel?
Pretty good. I had a bit of a fall off the wagon 2 weeks ago, I just became ravenous, hungry all the time, so I started snacking… and it got ridiculous, I was snacking (only on fruit) constantly… eating our families weeks’ worth of fruit in 2 or 3 days… and ohhhh how I paid for it!! Pain EVERYWHERE!! So I have got strict with myself again, and I am (almost) only eating at meal times, and if I eat any fruit (maybe less than a cup full) it is with a meal. And hey presto, I feel so much better again. Less fatigued, less swollen, stronger!! I have also ensured I am eating lots of good fats at meal times.
My pain is currently located in my right hand (dorsal aspect of the wrist – limiting middle finger extension!!! And wrist extension if my fingers are straight!), and my left thumb.
I probably don’t have full knee flexion (and a little bit of swelling is felt in either knee from day to day), but it’s getting there… and during my yoga sessions, I certainly don’t have very good range of motion anywhere compared to a year or so ago… but I’m working on it!

Introductions planned… well, after my hunger surge, I spoke to a guy who is about 2 years ahead of me on this journey, and one of his first introductions that he managed to add was grass fed butter after a period of healing, and this would add some great nutrients and fats to my diet… and hopefully would make eating out a bit easier. So if this good period continues, and I keep off the fruit and snacking, then I’m going to give it a go!! Exciting!! I’m very aware that it might not work… but I feel I’m starting to feel ready for this. And if it fails, it fails, I won’t have lost much, and I’ll know more about the direction my journey is heading.

If it goes ok, then maybe I might try some coconut milk kefir (as the kefir grains would be from milk), to add some more probiotic food to my life!! In fact, I need to get some coconut to start making my own coconut milk!!! One thing at a time Nina, one thing at a time!! (I’m now busy making bone broth, cooking fat, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, face cream, magnesium oil, magnesium body butter, mag-a-hol… I’m becoming the ultimate queen of the home!! Don’t worry, I’m looking after Seb too!! And he is growing mighty well!!)

One other possible introduction that I might try (this will probably take me past the summer as I am so slow at my introductions) is black pepper…

So… I have my follow up with my nutritionist in April, and some plans to add butter. I’m hopefully going to have a couple of brews going of kombucha and kefir… and I will continue to be very busy with my beautiful baby!!

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Increased knowledge leads to so many more questions!! I guess I’ll just keep reading!!

I have always been interested in health… And my understanding of health and how to be healthy has evolved over time… More recently it has evolved exponentially in my personal attempt to manage my RA naturally. It is a brilliant and enlightening journey, and I wonder how I would be managing presently, had I not changed my diet so drastically back in august (see this previous post).

This new journey I am on has made me very aware of so many things that could be affecting my health… But unfortunately this knowledge adds to one aspect that greatly affect my health… Stress!!!

I know that stress is a huge precursor of all ill’s! Put in a very poignant post here by the Paleo Mom.
And now I’m not at work, my stress levels are vastly reduced! But I have ‘that’ type of personality! If I’m going to do something I want to do it perfectly (but this is unsustainable and leads to stress!) if I’m going somewhere I CAN NOT be late (although, weirdly I often am (only minutes, not really late) but I stress and get very grumpy at the same time!)… So I am constantly trying to battle daily chronic stressors.

So where is this leading? Well, now, it’s not just me is it? Now, I have a beautiful baby boy to look after and set up for life… And of course in my mind I must do absolutely everything to ensure that I facilitate his healthful growth perfectly!!

This means that in my head I am constantly worrying about these many external ‘things’ that can be and are detrimental to health…. EMF, Plastics, heavy metal exposure, diet, vaccinations and so on…..

EMF, electro-magnetic fields… There’s lots to be said on this topic, and some very clever people know some very clever stuff and write about it lots… But to summarise see this blog post by Phil…. And this pod cast touches on it about 20 minutes before the end. How can that not make you worry about your child?! (Even just re-reading Phil’s post now has made my tummy flip)…And the worst thing is? EMF’s are everywhere… So even if I turn off all our devices and wifi router, next doors is still there, and so are all the devices at work, in hospitals, in every building we walk past… So how much of a difference is me turning off my devices?? And how realistic is it? They can be off, but not all the time, else I wouldn’t have bought the thing. So they will still be on, and as Seb is always near me, so therefore, he is near these wifi devices working away…. And lastly, I’ve used them most of my adult life…. So the damage is done, and it may not show in Seb, but what about his children… It will effect that far down the generations. Of course I’ll do what I can, but i can’t control the external factors, so I am working on trying to NOT worry about this health hazard… And breath!

Plastics… So now there’s BPA free, but what else is in plastic that we don’t yet know about that could be making us ill… That will be the next ‘X’ free product? The answer? Don’t use plastic….! Ok, I can work with that, but it takes time to transition. Yes I could bin all my plastic storage containers, and replace with glass/Perspex/steel… But there’s a cost implication here, and yes I’m a perfectionist, but I’m also… Let’s not say tight, but frugal. So, I have stopped heating up anything in plastic, it always gets put into a pan and warmed on the hob… But still Sebs bottles (I’m breast feeding, but he does take some expressed milk from a bottle so family can help out with care if needed) are plastic (and BPA free) and there’s no getting around that.

Heavy metal exposure – from all sorts, but the main thing that has been worrying me is water… To filter or not to filter, to filter drinking water, or to filter ALL household water?

Vaccinations – so much conflicting information! Here’s a pod cast from this past week by Paleo Baby that looks at all the evidence that’s out there… He’s had his first set, I don’t feel informed enough to defy medical advice, and I had my vaccinations (although now have an autoimmune condition) and his dad had his vaccinations (although he got all the illnesses vaccinated against!!)… So what should I do… or have done? I guess I’ll keep reading, feel guilty, then work on telling myself that there is no point feeling guilty, I’m only doing my best… and maybe I’ll feel better informed to make a decision I’m confident about for the next one!!

Diet – when seb eats with us I will ensure he eats the best food he can. But what about when he’s at nursery, grandma’s, school…. Arrgghh!!

So what do I do?? I guess I just do my best, limit the ‘bad’ stuff as much as I can, and know that I have done everything in my power to love and protect Seb as well as I can. The added stress I put on myself probably isn’t doing either of us very much good…

So we’ll limit wifi/mobile devices, we’ll eat well, go outdoors often and play lots… And hopefully instil a healthy life and attitude in my beautiful boy to live a long and happy life!

The year of 2014… The beginnings of Seb, and a rocky ride with my RA into 2015

The year of 2014…
I know it’s a little late to be trying to recall all of what happened in 2014, but I thought I’d try!! As I’m just sorting out my diaries and calendars, and about to throw out the old calendar…. So here goes! (I guess if it didn’t go on the calendar (which many things often don’t!) it won’t get mentioned here…)

January…I can’t believe how long ago this journey started! I had my implant taken out in November of 2013… that barely feels like yesterday! And so, from then on Seb was part of our thoughts.
My friends Alison had her baby boy Ethan on the 14th January, and Jo and David had their twins Leon and Logan on the 18th January.

My mum and dad visited the Lake District, and we joined them for a walk around Ullswater:

Mum and Dad on the Ullswater Steamer

Mum and Dad on the Ullswater Steamer

Ullswater from the Steamer on a cold January morning

Ullswater from the Steamer on a cold January morning

I began my acupuncture course, and generally felt like I was working constantly, what with working weekends, and the course taking up two weekends as well…. What a contrast to this January!! I also attempted to do the photo-a-day challenge by Fat Mum Slim… but managed less than 10 days…. Excellent start to a New Years Resolution!!

Photo a Day Picture...

Photo a Day Picture…

February continued in the same vein as January, with acupuncture courses filling my weekends, working and being on call…

March brought Miranda at Manchester with Jan and Karen… Such fun! And a little break away, just the four of us to Ingleton for fresh air, good food, and walking (Seb was now more than just a thought, and was quietly growing inside me, and we had just found out!!)

Ingleton hol March 2014 118

April was pretty quiet, Zeus went to a fun agility show in Sandbach and did very well (of course!),

Zeus!!

Zeus!!

and Riva debuted in her first champ show (the HWVA)… she behaved very well and didn’t come last!! Zeus and Riva met up with their sister and half-brother there too…

The Family!! Happy to say our two are the ones not needing to be held in place!!

The Family!! Happy to say our two are the ones not needing to be held in place!!

May brought Daisy’s Christening, in which I did some photography, and boy did I feel it in my shoulders after that!

Ste and Daisy!

Ste and Daisy!

Jan and Karen came to visit, and Bill went to an all you can eat Chinese with the family… and ate steak and salad! Poor old Riva had her hysterectomy too, and we stayed home and cuddled that weekend, while Andrew started the first of his Lakeland Trail runs up in Staveley.

Staying at home in the beautiful springtime weather!! (Riva was hiding in a shady bush!)

Staying at home in the beautiful springtime weather!! (Riva was hiding in a shady bush!)

In June we had Sebs’ 20 week scan… and chose not to find out if he was a boy or a girl… best decision ever!! And then off we drove all the way down to Lands End with the dogs and camping gear for a brilliant camping holiday with beautiful weather… I’m just gutted I couldn’t eat much of the fresh seafood while I was there… or drink the local brew!! Bad timing really, but still a lovely holiday!!

Truely the best was to spend a holiday!! Camping, sun, sea and sand!

Truly the best was to spend a holiday!! Camping, sun, sea and sand!

By this point I had also started my blog… what a journey that has turned out to be!
July saw Andrew continue his Lakeland runs, and I went off to the big smoke with the family on the train to see Monty Python at the O2 Arena which was brilliant!!
We looked after Daisy in August whilst Ste and Annette went to Blackpool to watch Mamma Mia, the following weekend I went down south with Layla in her campervan to Boomtown,

boomtown-line-up-2014-webunfortunately my RA was getting really bad by this point and I had gone off sick once already. The pain left me feeling low and lacking the ability to fully enjoy the experience, as walking, siting, standing even eating was incredibly painful, add that to being 6 months pregnant and you get one unhappy bunny. So sadly, looking back, I left early with Lois and Tony, but all in all it was totally the right decision. Due to the levels of pain I was experiencing, I took the plunge and went Autoimmune Paleo, and cut out Gluten, Dairy, Sugar, Nightshades, Legumes, Pulses, Nuts and Seeds… And the improvements went from there!!

By September I was feeling well enough to return to work, albeit in a non-clinical role, but it was good to get back in to the work place and feel useful and able again. My Birthday came and went rather uneventfully, taking a walk in Goyt Valley with the pooches, and going for a meal with Andrew to the Hanging Gate before staying over at mum and dads.

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Taking a break at Goyt Valley

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My diet was so miraculous in its pain relieving, that I attended an open day at the College of Naturopathic Medicine on the 1st October, which was really inspiring, but due to Seb’s imminent arrival I decided to not go ahead this year… But it has really sparked an interest in learning more about this area of health.

36 weeks pregnant... 2 more weeks and Seb arrived!

36 weeks pregnant… 2 more weeks and Seb arrived!

The following week my Maternity leave began, and right on cue the little man was born two weeks later on the 26th October!! What an amazing experience!! The body really is a pretty amazing thing, and I am so proud of what I have achieved in not only growing and birthing the most perfect little boy… but also in continuing to feed him all the nutrients he needs to continue to grow into a gorgeous bouncing little blue eyed boy…. I love him so much!!

Just a few hours old... My beautiful baby boy!!

Just a few hours old… My beautiful baby boy!!

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November saw the last two of Andrews Lakeland Trails up Helvellyn and Ullswater at the start of the month, and we finished the month by going to the Stampers house warming do. In between I was obviously preoccupied with learning to look after my baby, and he was exceptionally well behaved at the Stampers! Here are a few lovely photos from this busy time… I’m just bursting with pride, so sorry about the over kill!!

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In December Seb attended his first wedding (well, evening do at least!)

First Wedding

First Wedding

He had also been attending baby groups since November, and had his first Christmas Party and met Santa on the 13th.

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Christmas celebrations!!

Christmas celebrations!!

Sadly, on the 21st December his cold got progressively worse, and we were admitted to Preston Hospital with Bronchiolitis and had a 4 day stay, getting discharged on Christmas day. Santa popped by to visit him and brought him a few presents on Christmas morning though so he wasn’t forgotten!!

Seb and Santa

Seb and Santa

Finally we saw out the year at our house with a few friends, and Otto!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

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The family portrait!

In summary… I’ve had a great year, not least because not only has the arrival of Seb been just the most amazing and perfect addition to our family, his conception has led me to get off my bum and do something proactive about my autoimmune condition!! I thought I was being proactive… certainly in a way I would have been pleased with were I a patient of mine… but since going off sick, and reading constantly about nutrition and healing, I have learnt soooooo much, and I have now realised that by taking the medication and going about my life without a second thought, was in fact insanely passive!! I have taken control of my body now… yes things aren’t perfect… yes I still wake feeling pain, yes I still can’t walk up Helvellyn, yes I still feel exhausted some days and want to just sleep… but those feelings are soooooo much less than they were, and the positive feeling I get from knowing that I am doing the best for my body and the best I can for my baby really does make it feel so worth while… and dare I say it? Easy!! Who needs cake when you can have health!!

Here’s to an ever increasingly healthier 2015!!