About Me

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I love finding new worlds through writing and reading. I am excited by creating new flavours and tastes in the kitchen. I am fascinated by nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. I adore my my dog, family and friends.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Glimpse into being in my shoes

This morning, after reading tweets written by other people with long term illnesses, I read again the story of "The Spoon Theory." This is a well written explanation of what it is like to not have a body that is firing on all cylinders. You can find the story here: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/wpress/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

Even the people who spend a lot of time with me, do not understand what it is truly like to live with an illness that robs you of your true capability. They try to, they think they do, but ultimately they let you down when they expect more from you than you can physically give, and then feel disappointed or hurt by you because you can not give it, when you are just trying your best. I think my mum is really the only person who comes close to truly getting it, without actually going through it herself.
I don't want to use excuses. I want to increase people's awareness of these issues, so there is a better understanding. I have it so much better than a lot of people by far, and I do count my blessings. I do understand the struggle however, and I want to improve people's knowledge of the subject.

As the spoon theory lays out, when you have limited energy reserves, and issues such as pain and dizziness are a frequent occurrence, you have to choose which battles to fight. Sometimes, I will have a shower and it will make me feel better. But a lot of the time, the simple process of getting ready in the morning is so exhausting, that by the time I am ready to leave the house, I could do with a nap! Sometimes, I choose to do something slightly physical, like go to the shops, or do a photography workshop for a few hours. These tasks are gentle, and involve only slow walking, and can even be broken up with regular breaks. However, they completely drain me. I have to choose to do something like that, knowing that I will be physically and mentally spent by the end. I would rather do that than always rest and do nothing; I want to get out there and live! But the thing that disappoints people, is you do something like that, and then they want you to keep giving more, and you can't. Every bone in my body comes to feel like lumps of hot and heavy stone, and I can barely keep my eyes open, and the dizziness and nausea set in, and as much as I would absolutely love to keep going, the only option is to sleep. I get frustrated by this, but I can feel it, so I know I just have to give into it. People who can't feel it, try as they might, don't know why you can't just push a little more, because their bodies allow them to.

It took me a really long time to learn to give into it. When doctors kept telling me there was nothing wrong, I kept pushing myself. So many days at work, I felt like I had to just concentrate on getting through. That upsets me because I couldn't give my best. Trips to the grocery store were usually a downright horrible experience, and then going home to cook dinner every night was a nightmare! By the end of night, I felt absolutely broken. But then people expect you to keep giving, so you can't stop.

Now that I have been told there is something going on with my body, I have been able to ease off myself a little. I am getting better at accepting help, and asking for it. I am better at saying no, I can not do it. I am better at knowing I need to rest, and fitting it into my day.

What would help now would be more people who understand that just because I can't, it doesn't mean I don't want to. More people who understand that I am trying my absolute best, and yes, it isn't equal to what other people can give at their best, and yes it doesn't fit into what people normally do at my age, but it is my current best. So many people have moved out of my life because I can't keep up with them or give them what they want; you definitely learn who your true friends are when you decline social offers and the like, and then never hear from them again! This time in my life is bloody hard, and I just don't need people giving up on me; it makes me weaker and the struggle is so much harder. People in my situation come to rely on other people, and when that network gets smaller, although it leaves you with the people you can really trust and count on, it makes you feel insignificant, misunderstood, let down and thrown aside. I do absolutely understand how it would feel for other people though, and I would forgive and welcome them back into my life!!

I am (hopefully!) getting really close to finding a solution to my health problems. I am confident that soon I will be more of the me that I used to be. I really hope so. I will have gone through this, and learnt so much; who is important to me, who I am important to, what my goals are for my life, where my strength comes from. So many people do not have the prospect of getting better, and their motivation to keep going is truly inspiring. Everyone can help eachother, with a little trust and understanding, with love and support, everyone can keep people who are struggling going.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Glimpse into a brief update

The next few days make up the last of my month with no meds, and then I get bloods taken...again. I am starting to get apprehensive about what the doctor will say, because of the niggling worry that this next step may not work either. I am interested to hear whether I have Hashimoto's or Graves' though, and I am keen to try out medications that suit. I really, really need to see some improvement soon. I will never give up, but something good needs to happen for me sometime soon! It feels like a never ending battle that is in slow motion. I am stuck in a repetitive cycle of resting, trying to do something, becoming exhausted, resting... Everything that is important to me has been effected because of all these stupid health problems. It can't be said that I lack motivation to get better!!

"To keep the body in good health is a duty...otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear." -Buddha.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Glimpse into the intolerance friendly snack

One thing I that have struggled with on my strict diet is what to have for snacks. With my other health issues, I need to eat every 2-3 hours, and I am not going to cook up a meal every time! I needed to find easy and quick foods, that could travel in my bag with me. I am becoming a clean eating advocate, so I am beginning to stay clear of pre-packaged foods, and foods containing added sugars and preservatives.

Snack idea 1: The green smoothie. Read my previous post for recipes! This is a great snack; it travels well, keeps you going for a long time, and it is so fresh and healthy.

Snack idea 2: Fresh fruit. Fruit can be scary for a fructmal (a person with fructose malabsorption), but there are some safe ones. Make sure you limit yourself to two serves a day (I struggle with this...I love fruit! But even people without intolerances should do this too, because of the sugar content and subsequent weight issues etc.). I eat blueberries, raspberries and strawberries every day, and occasionally eat pineapple, oranges and bananas. In the past fortnight, I have tried fresh fig on two occasions, and in the second trial survived eating one whole one spread over a day! It has been an exciting discovery, because there is nothing like a fresh fig! My next experiment (when I have my brave boots on) will be mango, because life is not complete without mango ;-). It has definitely been very hard to let go of so many fruits, because even as a kid I would choose fruit over any sweet or savoury treat, but I am so grateful that there are some that I can handle.

Snack idea 3: Puffed rice crackers. These are processed, so I try to keep these as emergency backups. They taste fantastic with a little avocado (limit yourself to less than 1/4 of an avocado) with slices of smoked salmon. They are also good with dairy free butter (I use Nuttelex) and vegemite.

Snack idea 4: Dried fruit and nuts. Yep, I said it! If you're a fruct mal, I am sure that you are getting the same anxious, hot feeling about the thought of eating dried fruit that I am! There are some that I will never, ever eat again, but I have discovered that dried pineapples, blueberries and cranberries, give me another snack to throw into a zip lock bag for my travels. Definitely keep your intake very low. I find it jazzes up a few cashews and almonds (and again, keep your nut intake low; I stick to about 4-5 nuts per serve).

Snack idea 5: Homemade treats. I like to eat healthily, but you do need a treat snack from time to time! Plus, when you take away the wheat, dairy and sugar, you are left with a pretty healthy snack, whether it is called a double chocolate chip cookie or not!! I am working on adding more recipes to my food blog, so check that out for ideas and it will eventually grow. Also, I am loving Sarah Wilson's new recipe book "I Quit Sugar." I just made up another pot of her chia and quiona parfait and the berry sauce that goes with it (it all keeps for a few days!) ...it is a fantastic blend of berry, orange and ginger flavours on top of a healthy serve of chia and quiona soaked in rice milk, and is awesome as breaky or a snack. If I don't have time to cook, I do reach for Leda Choc Chip cookies. They are free of most of the baddies, except they do have sugar and maple syrup, so I am trying to limit my intake. They are delicious though! A couple of squares of dark chocolate or dairy free chocolate is good too (make sure you don't choose a chocolate that has an artificial sweetener or agave. I like to eat Eskal's chocolate range).

Snack idea 6: Pastry rolls. I have just started to make sausage rolls with gluten free pastry. I use the Pastry Pantry's puff pastry, and you can put whatever you like inside. It is easy and quick to do, and you can then freeze up some of the cooked end result and throw them in the microwave when you get hungry. I will do a blog post sometime for this recipe.

Snack idea 7: Vegetables. Cut up some carrots, celery, cucumber and capsicum. I will also post some dip recipes too that are great with veggie sticks. If you like and can tolerate nut butters, these are healthy spreads that don't require time to make up. I like to roast chunks of pumpkin and sweet potato too, and eat them cold, or throw them in the microwave. Coat them in coconut oil, or herbs, or pine nuts.

Snack idea 8: Tea. This obviously won't fill you up, but it is something for the taste buds when you are craving a sugar hit. I drink 2-3 cups at least a day! I usually have green tea. I also occasionally have a chai, or a fruit tea. I have just discovered Tea Tonic; a range which includes my favourites of tasty coconut and pineapple tea, and white tea with rose petals. I drink caffeine free teas because of the added stress caffeine puts on my already taxed body due to food intolerances and thyroid issues. I am currently on the hunt for a decaffeinated black tea.

These are a few ideas to keep you going between meals. I will post more ideas and recipes soon. :-)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Glimpse into the green smoothie!

I am an absolute green smoothie convert. They are delicious and pack so many nutrients into a quick drink. With my food intolerances, I find that they are awesome for breakfast or for afternoon tea (or both!). They give me something fresh and tasty, that isn't processed and full of sugar but is easy to prepare, and it can also be made to be a dairy free, egg free, wheat free, nut free and low in fructose meal!
My favourite fructose friendly smoothies so far are:


Handful of spinach
3-4 big leaves of kale (choose the softer leaf; I find the curly kale doesn't blend too well)
1/4 big cucumber
A few sprigs of mints
A handful of blueberries or 4-5 strawberries
Juice of half a lime or lemon


1-2 handfuls of spinach
1/4 big cucumber
A few sprigs of mint
A small handful of raspberries
A few chunks of fresh pineapple
Juice of half a lime
A tablespoon of melted coconut oil
A tablespoon of white chia seeds
Water (If you add rice milk -or whichever milk or milk alternative you prefer, instead of water, it makes this smoothie into a fresh sorbet style drink!)


2 handfuls of spinach
2 handfuls of blueberries
Juice of half a lime or lemon
A tablespoon of melted coconut oil
A tablespoon of white chia seeds

Throw all your ingredients into a blender, add more or less water depending on how thick you like it, and voila! A delicious hit of energy-giving nutrition! Since adding the chia seeds and coconut oil, I find that I am full for hours, and it really gives me extra bounce.
Remember to not drink it too quickly, as your body won't digest it as well because it doesn't involve the chewing process. :-)

You can place all your dry ingredients in a single serve in a zip lock bag or sealed container and put them in the freezer, then all you have to do is grab the bag, add your liquids and blend! 

If you blend up your drink for on the go, you can put it in the freezer for a little while, and by the time you're ready to drink, it will be cold and fresh (and won't have splashed and spilled its ways round your car!).

Also, once you blend the beautiful, fresh vegetables and fruit, they begin to lose their nutrients, so if avoidable, don't blend them up hours and hours in advance. But that being said, they do keep, and if the alternative is grabbing a quick processed vending machine snack, then of course a green smoothie blended before work is a much better alternative for when 3 o'clock-itis sets in!

Happy blending! x

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Glimpse into the specialist appointment

I haven't written for a while. Basically, I was a little lost for words after my specialist appointment!! But today I find myself lying on the bed feeling pretty gross, reading motivational articles, books and blogs about good health, clean eating and wellness, and I feel inspired to find those words!

The much anticipated and nerve wracking specialist appointment was for the most part worthwhile and helpful. The doctor was very keen to listen and help, and although not that much older than me he seemed to know his stuff (though I do have to remember I am getting old and having a doctor my age is more likely now!). I do feel frustrated because he said he doesn't think all my symptoms are from the autoimmune disease, so yet again another doctor raises the possibility of something else going on, but can't bring an answer with that suggestion! My blood boils when I hear a doctor say "something else is going" because it is never followed by "and that something else is...."!

He did a thorough examination, and listened to my lengthy list of symptoms. Much to my relief he has ruled out arthritis or other autoimmune joint related disorders, which I was concerned I was developing.

He wants to improve my dizziness and light headedness, which is such an issue for me. Over the years, doctors have mentioned the availability of drugs to improve my low blood pressure to help this (I generally sit on a BP of about 90/60mmHg, and drop to a systolic pressure of about 80 or lower when I stand, which makes for staying upright or seeing through black vision a tad interesting!!). So he has suggested starting Fludrocortisone, which is a steroid that causes fluid and salt retention so as to increase the blood pressure, and hopefully result in more upright-ness and less starry vision!! (though maybe I will become a big puffy ball of oedema! Attractive!). It seems like a fairly hardcore drug with many potential side effects, but I think I have decided that I will give it a go, taking in the fact that being light headed and dizzy has caused me to leave work countless times over the years, and is the main reason I haven't driven for the past 3 months.

The part of the consultation that left me speechless was the bit where he suggested I may have Grave's Disease, not Hashimoto's disease!! This is the same as Hashimoto's in that it is an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid, but it causes too much thyroid hormone production, as opposed to too little. I had queried this myself in my weeks of reading, but I don't fit some of the symptoms, and in trusting my GP, I had discounted it. (But I don't fit all the Hashimoto's symptoms either, and most patients rarely fit all the symptoms on a list). It turns out that I was right to fight for a specialist appointment, because a test to check for Grave's disease, that could have easily been done during the multiple blood tests I have had done, hasn't been done!!
So, just in case I hadn't been frustrated enough by the painfully slow progress so far, I have been taken off the carbizamole for a month to see what happens!! So another 4 weeks of getting nowhere, and potentially getting unwell again (how does one look forward to a month like that?!). At the end of the month, I will have more blood tests to reveal whether I do have Grave's, or to confirm the Hashimoto's diagnosis, and then we will decided whether I need Carbizamole or Thyroid Hormone replacement. Comical really! I remember my GP saying, "you have an autoimmune disease that is affecting your thyroid. We will call it Hashimoto's; it could be something else, but we will call it Hashimoto's'.''!!!! Excuse me, if there was a test to decide whether it is Hashimoto's or Grave's, why didn't we do it?! Ok, rant over ;-)
Fortuntately, I haven't got suddenly and severly unwell like the first time I came off the Carbizamole. However, I have slowly developed more symptoms or had symptoms increase in intensity in the past 2 weeks that I had less of on the Carbizamole, such as a pounding and racing heart, nausea, a sensitive stomach, weakness and lack of stamina, light headedness and today's new sensation of too much blood in my eyes, as if I am hanging upside down! I have my fingers and toes crossed that I am not developing hyperthryoidism again, but I have to look at it positively that it is more controlled this time and if it happens, at least we will know why.

I am so glad that I stood up to my GP and requested a specialist appointment despite his adamant determination to keep me on. GPs do a fantastic job, particularly my GP who was the first person to look at my symptoms from a different angle and discovered the autoimmune disease, but they might miss something in the more specific areas (it would be impossible to even contemplate that they would know everything about everything!). I am so glad I had people encouraging me to push for it.

Unfortunatately when I have a good day and do a few things, it is inevitably followed up with a day feeling wiped out and miserable (an indication that work would just about kill me at the moment! It definitely got close to doing so for most of 2012!). Yesterday I managed a nice day out with Mum, and even though we took it very easy and had lots of rests and cups of tea, today I feel like even sitting up is too uncomfortable. So I have resigned to my comfy bed with a relaxing playlist on my iPad, an array of books, including the new ''I Quit Sugar" by Sarah Wilson and I feel a nap coming on! (Sarah Wilson is my inspiration as she avoids fructose like me, and she has autoimmune disease too -she has had Grave's and now has Hashimoto's, yet she has it controlled and is for the most part healthy and leads a busy life!).
 So I will finish up now, but will aim to update with some new recipes etc soon!