My return from maternity leave (from wordpress!!)!!

Hello… I’m trying to get back to normality with my blogging. Sebastian is a dream, sleeping so well most of the time, feeding well (and frequently), so I’m taking advantage!! I probably should be sleeping when he does, but I’m not very good at that! So we will see how things go!
Sadly I haven’t kept up with my food diary over the last few weeks, but I’m getting back to it.
I have had a little flare compared to how good I was feeling pre-partum, part of this will definitely be due to the effort/trauma of the birth (which by the way, was minimally traumatic thankfully!! Everything went really well… but it’s still a pretty big thing for your body to go through!), another reason is likely to be the changes in hormones, and the transition from carrying a little human being, to no longer incubating, plus… as Sebastian decided to come early I hadn’t managed to cook as many mini meals in preparation as I would have liked. So, this meant that I managed to take my own food for the first two days in hospital, but as Sebastian wasn’t feeding well enough (according to the midwifes), they kept me in for another two days, in which I decided to just eat the hospital food. Now I didn’t feel awful straight away, and as I was in hospital I wasn’t doing a huge amount, so I didn’t notice much. But once I got home and had stairs to navigate I realised I was back to going up and down one step at a time. I had severe pain in my ankles, left more than right (which although has settled considerably, hasn’t gone, and has led to a very sore and lumpy left Achilles), knees, and hands.
On my first night back at home I indulged in a take away curry…. Mmmmmmm!! It was soooo good!!
But in the morning I got back onto my clean eating straight away, and even declined helping out with the leftovers . The food just isn’t worth the pain at the moment!! (well, the curry was totally worth it, but I had already broken my clean eating for two days prior…!)
Recovery from this flare is much slower than it was when I started my elimination diet, (I could probably do with doing a bit of a detox fast, but as I’m now breast feeding I don’t think I could cope… I’m always so hungry and thirsty anyway!!) I’m currently left with a sore and lumpy left Achilles, ankles that are ok… but don’t particularly like being taken to end of range, and stiff slightly swollen PIP joints… eases as the day goes on. I also think that I have slipped into the habitat of snacking on fruit which is leading to too much sugar in my diet… so that is my goal over the next fortnight or so!!
I have also developed:
Anterior knee pain from doing so much sit to standing with Seb in my arms!! This is totally due to deconditioning, and I am already working on some simple strength and balance work, with a view to getting back to yoga as soon as my teacher lets me!
Low back pain, and neck pain from the relative inactivity and poor posture that breastfeeding causes… I’m working on my BF technique!! And hoping that as I get better at this, my posture will improve, and also, as I get fitter and stronger my muscles will support me better anyhow!! (I really aught to use my chair that’s in the bedroom, but in the day I tend to use the settee… easier and softer… but likely adding to my aches!! (Bad physio!! Slap on the wrist!!)
And some of my thumb pain I hate to admit is probably from increased internet and Facebook browsing whilst being relatively inactive… as TV is just so rubbish, and there is so much information out there that I want to absorb on hormones, supplements, mineral balancing, essential oils and autoimmunity overall!!

But in general, considering how I was before I started this diet… I am still WAY healthier and in much less pain!! Plus, I don’t like to brag too much… but I was back into my pre-pregnancy jeans after one week, and I’m pretty chuffed with how my figure is coming along already!! (To be honest, its better than it was before I got pregnant!!)

18 Days post partum.

18 Days post partum.

photo 2

I plan to continue with all these changes for the rest of my life, it has been such an eye opener! Getting pregnant with Seb could well be the absolute best thing I have ever done for my body and health!! 

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Elimination Diet… Where I’m up to – A Summary!

My last post Elimination Diet…. What have I been eating?! received so many positive comments from Facebook, and additional questions posted on Facbook groups, that I feel perhaps I ought to expand a little! I am by no means an expert in this… this is a little personal experiment. There are things that I haven’t done perfectly, and there are things that I know in time I will need to adapt and adjust, and also, what works for me won’t be the same for you… that is the point of an Elimination Diet, to find out what is your own personal triggers.

Elimination Diet

I stated in A New Start with the Diet what I had decided to eliminate, this included: gluten, dairy, Sugar, Additives, Legumes, Citrus Fruits, Seeds and Nuts, Nightshade vegetables, Meat (excluding fish and turkey/wild game), Eggs, Most drinks!, Spices and Condiments (due to the inclusion of seeds, sugars, gluten etc. – therefor Himalayan Rock Salt, fresh herbs and dried leaves of herbs allowed). I decided on these things from reading The Paleo Approach, and this website which I found in the files section of the Facebook group Rheumatoid Arthritis Managed Naturally.

Pretty restrictive, but well worth it!!

So what have I learnt so far? Well… Initially I don’t think I ate enough. Now to be honest, it wouldn’t have been a problem, as it probably was enough, just not for a pregnant woman in her third trimester!! But this didn’t last too long, as my midwife noticed a high proportion of ketones in my urine after a fortnight of starting the diet. So how did I rectify this?? I added more starchy vegetables – butternut squash, sweet potato, beetroot… plus exactly what I had been eating on the first week of my elimination diet. The next urine test was spot on.
Other possible reasons that my urine test was slightly off that first week… was my appointment was at 9am on Monday morning, and I probably hadn’t drunk all that much before the test, therefore dehydration can affect ketone levels in urine. And also, along the lines of not eating enough, that weekend I had eaten out on both Saturday and Sunday, and generally been quite active (totally unheard of before when I could hardly move!!!).
Eating out is a bit of a problem, and I don’t mind too much as I had, more recently begun to feel that eating out was becoming too frequent, it was taking away the special-ness of going out for a meal for a special occasion. Plus, not eating out saves money… which can go directly into ensuring that the food I’m buying in for our daily meals is as good as we can afford!!
However, eating is a really social event, and it is nice, when friends are visiting, or there’s a get together that you can go out and still eat within your restrictions. Unfortunately, so far I have found that I tend to get one choice of fish or meat with a plain salad, or a plain portion of vegetables. As I go along with my reintroductions, and my diet 90% of the time is balanced and managing my inflammation, I am sure that I will have to be slightly less restricted in a restaurant, but for now it just isn’t worth it!!
In the meantime, I am going to start a little review of each of the places that I eat out at, looking at their choice, service, and food in general, as it’ll serve as a little reminder for me when it comes to having to pick somewhere to go out for food if the need arises!
Reintroductions
My reintroductions have been slow, and I have intended that because I want to know exactly what I can and can’t eat!! I have also so far only really reintroduced some ‘safe’ foods, with a view to building up my diet to an Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) type diet, trying to follow The Paleo Approach as closely as I can, food sensitivities (if found) allowing. The reason I’m aiming for an AIP diet is because The Paleo Approach book made sense to me, and I do eat meat!! And I like eating meat! A lot of other diets move towards a less ‘meaty’ approach, and I felt, for me, I wanted to try this… if I found that I couldn’t tolerate meat through my Elimination Diet then, of course, I would have addressed this and looked towards getting my nutrients from other sources, but everyone has to have a Plan A!!
So far, meat (grass fed Lamb, and grass fed Beef (as of this weekend), free range chicken, and wild game/duck etc.) has been good… No reactions… YES!! So fingers crossed, I can look to follow an AIP diet fully in time.

Eggs and almonds aren’t really in the AIP remit, but I thought I’d give them a go because of their usefulness in baking, and other cooking… Almonds seem OK (I eat in proportion anyway), eggs however didn’t go so well… but because I was doing a detailed Food diary, I have been able to look at the possibility of other possible reasons for my flare – so I plan on trying again with eggs on a clean day, and if the same reactions occur, then I’ll know!

I had my 30th Birthday in the midst of all this, so I did cheat a little for a few days – keeping within an AIP diet – but I did a bit of baking, and eating out once which meant on that weekend I had lots of new foods, and yes, I did feel a bit rubbish following this weekend… I just don’t know exactly weather it was the flax seeds, or honey, maple syrup in the baking, the extra sugar from the baking and eating lots of fruits rather than keeping a balance, maybe the yeast in a bullion that made a gravy… or any of the other little things that sneaked in over that weekend.
But all in all, it was nice to relax for a couple of days with my family and by eating clean the following week my fatigue and pain ebbed away quickly. And I think this is important!! It is important to be dedicated to your elimination diet to work out what your triggers are, but it mustn’t take over your life so much that it makes food a misery or a chore! Food is delicious, and especially so when you know it is healing your body!!
I look at reintroductions as an exciting time of the week… it’s a day to find out if there is one more food I can eat!! And it’s like an adventure, a discovery!

Supplements

This is my weakness… I’m only just getting my head around the nutrients that I am trying to balance in my whole foods… let alone where I’m deficient, and what will benefit me in long or short term. This is my next goal… I am going to wait until little junior is out of me though first, because even though I’m sure most supplements would only benefit me and the health of my baby, everything says ‘if you are pregnant or breast feeding please consult with your doctor’… and unfortunately when you do this, they have no idea of any impact on me or my baby… so I’m going to wait. This gives me time to continue with my reintroductions and get to grips with that anyway.
I’m excited about the addition of supplements and how it will be another piece to the puzzle, I think I may need a little extra help however, and I plan to speak to a nutritional naturopath when the time is right for guidance.

Support
I have been really lucky that my other half has been supportive of this adventure of mine… but I guess why wouldn’t he be?! He doesn’t need to help me on and off the settee anymore, or get woken up in the night to help me turn over and sort out the covers! I can come out on the dog walks, and I’m 100% happier, which makes the household a happier healthier place! And I’m doing most of the cooking (I’m going to have to try to train him back up to AIP cooking sooner or later though!!). Plus… He is very into his sport and fitness… and although we ate pretty well before, always eating our 5 a day, minimal bread or pastries, rarely potatoes, with fish a regular part of our diet… we weren’t eating CLEAN! So now we are… he can’t stop looking at the results he is seeing in the mirror… which is a constant source of amusement to me!

On wards and upwards!

Elimination diet… what have I been eating…??!

I first toyed with the idea of a diet change back in June in my blog Food Glorious Food, and then finally in September my blog A New Start with the Diet documented my starting process of a strict elimination diet… well, as I stated in the title of that blog, so far so good… I’m here now to provide a little update on how things have been going! I think you can probably tell I’m pretty pleased, I have posted 4 posts since starting the diet, and my mood, and the topics I talk about are far more positive! You can catch up with those here, here, here, and here!! (Isn’t ‘here’ one of those words that when it is written/said/read too many times in a row it just doesn’t look right anymore!!)

I have been keeping a really detailed (well I hope so/think it is) food diary, and I also did a pain chart of my pain on starting the diet back in August. I also started doing a little video diary… but I couldn’t keep that up for long (1- because I never had enough space on my phone or iPad, 2 – because seeing yourself doing a video diary is the most AWFUL experience in the world, perhaps second only to hearing your voice on a recording… I don’t know why that’s worse, but I seem to remember that I was more repulsed by that back when I had to do my French oral exam!!).

So, here it is for your viewing:

Where I started back in August.... :-(

Where I started back in August…. 😦

The details of absolutely EVERYTHING that has passed my lips since the 21st August (well with one or two days where I forgot to document, but they have been very few and far between!):

Food diary

I’d just like to say that the first few days where I hadn’t started the elimination diet, was not really a true representation of what I would have eaten were I say… at work, or not planning the elimination diet!! My excuse? I was starting an elimination diet!!! I might never eat a danish pastry again!! So I didn’t really hold back… mind you, despite eating lovely salads etc for lunch at work, there were always biscuits and delicious homemade bakes brought in by colleagues, so where I would give nourishment with one hand, I expect I took away any benefit by stuffing my face with lovely cakes!!! Not any more!

My pain chart as of today:

A much happier pain chart androgynous being!! And a much happier Nina to boot!

A much happier pain chart androgynous being!! And a much happier Nina to boot!

Now.. I have photos of my hands from back in maybe May/June time, and some I took yesterday… I don’t know how easy to spot the difference it is… But I can 100% assure you that they FEEL very very different! I’ll stick them in anyway and you can see if you can tell… if not, you’ll just have to take my word for it, and the fact that I ran with the dogs on their walk yesterday… and I’m going out with them again in about 30 minutes… because I am not crippled in pain!!! Wooooo Hoooooo!!

Left Hand May/June 2014

Left Hand May/June 2014

Left Hand October 2014

Left Hand October 2014

Right Hand May/June 2014

Right Hand May/June 2014

Right Hand October 2014

Right Hand October 2014

Wow… I usually only look at these on my phone, and I thought it was difficult to see a difference… but I’ve just seen them on my computer screen… It has surprised even me!!

I just wish I’d taken photos of all my swollen joints… It would have helped me remember… instead this is all I have… And I hope never to see that much inflammation in my body again!! I know I’ll have flares, I’m sure… but I will not let myself ever get to this again!!! A corner has been turned.