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!!


Merry Christmas Everybody!!

Merry Christmas everyone.

I know it’s been a while since I last posted. I’ve been busy being, and loving being a mum!! 😀

Sadly on Sunday Seb’s cold worsened and he was admitted to hospital, and we’ve been here ever since. But still, I’d rather he get well and come home safe and sound than rush home to spend Christmas at home (although I am devastated that my first Christmas as a mum is being spent in a hospital bay).

Andrew has been a star, looking after the dogs, and prepping loads of food to make sure I stay as healthy as possible. I’m not making the same mistake as I did when Seb was born!!

As a breast feeding mum the hospital is providing me with food. They have a gluten free menu, and a dairy free menu… Frustratingly, the gluten free menu only had options such as ‘with gluten free bread’ or ‘gluten free dumplings’ etc… Plus everything had legumes and nightshades.

And the dairy free menu was packed with gluten… Therefore, only one meal was both gluten and dairy free… So for Monday – Thursday I had a banana for breakfast, and for both lunch and dinner I had tuna salad (minus the boiled egg and tomatoes…). Not exactly nutrient dense, or very varied! Plus, although tuna is a healthy option, it is a fish that should be consumed in moderation due to its possible mercury content.

Breakfast choices were cereal or toast… Cheap to feed the masses, yes. Nutrient dense… No. Especially lacking in valuable nutrients for healing, and very much lacking in choice for people with dairy and gluten sensitivities….

Thankfully, Andrew brought me a selection of nutrient dense meals 3 times a day, including fish, grass fed beef, organ meat, oysters and plenty (nay, copious) amounts of vegetables.

Thankfully I was there to support and feed my baby, not recover from an illness or surgery. But still, the quality of my milk is directly dependent on the nutrition I consume, therefore my baby needed better menu choices for me on the menu. And thankfully I have an understanding of good nutrition, and a partner willing to do the cooking and leg work for me to get it. But other people in the hospital aren’t that lucky, and they still need the nutritional support to heal.

Since learning what I have about nutrition, and seeing menu choices in hospitals both that I have worked at, and been a patient at, I feel it is an enormously important task to encourage and create change in the food that is served to people who are trying to heal and get out of hospital, whether they are people without disease merely having an elective ankle operation, or an elderly immunosuppressed patient.

The importance of food, and it’s healing properties NEEDS to be pushed more in hospitals. The emphasis is so heavily on getting patients out of hospital, to receive community based care back in their own home (which I totally agree with for a large proportion of cases), yet we provide nutrient deficient fuel for their bodies when they most need quality. Of course there is a cost issue (which will be a huge part), but the other issue is a complete lack of understanding and knowledge around the importance of nutrition…

This needs to be redressed.


Why I’m not a food blogger…!

Since starting my food exploration I have had to get a bit creative with ideas for dinner/lunch. It’s handy because Andrew really doesn’t mind from Monday to Friday if he just receives protein source and veg… it’s what he grew up with (however the protein sources are VERY different from his childhood… and so are the veg for that matter!! And it’s not now topped up with an enormous portion of potatoes and bisto gravy!! Much to his pleasure thankfully), but for me, my parents were always a little adventurous in their food endeavours, and variation was key… so I do get a bit bored… or if not bored, I just feel the need to create a variety of dinners and food…

Now, I feel that on the days when I try to get creative I have on the whole been quite successful (even if I do say so myself!!), and I have been really quite proud of the taste sensations!! But, before I can show off to anyone about how great meals on this restricted, but gradually increasing elimination diet can be… I’ve eaten it!! Mmmmmm!!

Plus, despite being totally in love with photography… food photography just has never inspired me! Can I really be bothered to get out my lovely camera, just to take a few photos of my dinner… nah!! The light in my kitchen is all wrong, plus it’s October, annd England… there is no natural light at tea time round here!!
So the few… well two things that I have managed to take photos of before they became an empty plate are: A cherry ‘cheese cake’ made for my birthday so that I could enjoy a little (modified) AIP treat:



And last night’s Prawn and Squid coconut curry:


As you can see… I’m no food blogger! Things I do wrong:
1) The cake was already half eaten
2) The crockery is OLD!! And chipped!!
3) The background isn’t clear
4) The lighting is all wrong
5) The angles are all wrong
6) The presentation of the food is not considered
7) The photos are taken by my iPhone or iPad.. Not even a compact camera!

To name just a few… but, mmm they didn’t half taste good 🙂

And at the end of a day, that is the main thing I care about! Cooking good healthy food that is helping my body heal itself…

So… what’s for tea tonight?