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My journey to healing fibromyalgia

My journey to healing fibromyalgia

Today I feel like is the day where I write about things that has helped my fibromyalgia greatly over the years to be non-existent. I do still have some days where it will bother me, but not to the point I was back in 2009.

Let me fill you in on where I came from to lead you where I am now in my health.

I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia back in 2003, I was only 23 years old. All the doctors and specialists I went to said that I was very young to have to deal with something like I had. On top of the fibromyalgia I also had an unspecified spodylitis, meaning my spine was fusing together, a high anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) count, which is your body fighting itself on a daily basis, and endometriosis which was debilitating pain the first day of my cycle. Lots of fatigue, widespread pain, brain fog, and basically my youth taken away in a very short time.

How I functioned was taking pain pills on a daily basis and sometimes half a muscle relaxer and then a pain pill later to be able to make it thru the long days…and the days were LONG! I even was on Methotrexate for the spodylitis, an anti-malaria for who knows what, and Relafen as a daily anti-inflammatory. I was also living in Alaska at the time, so it was always cold, which is not good for fibromyalgia. Lugging around all the cold weather gear, a space heater at my desk 24-7 and constant tea and coffee to try and stay warm.

I also couldn’t stop my life for my condition, so I had to work a full time (high stress) job for a thriving engineering company, and after work I had a lot of functions with the church I was affiliated with Tuesday thru Sunday. I was living off of 4-5 hours of sleep a day, and I felt like I was dying. Plus I don’t think anyone really cared, or believed how much pain I was in daily because I had to hide it so people wouldn’t think I was complaining for attention. Really I just wanted someone to understand…

I tried going to naturopaths, but that was getting expensive with little results. The only doctor I didn’t quit going to was my chiropractor, which was actually the one who helped me start finding answers. (So not all cracks are quacks). I have been very fortunate to find some awesome chiropractors! They kept on me to clean up my diet and made me feel bad for the horrible foods and energy drinks I consumed, which I thank them now.

The only bad thing about chiropractors is, if you don’t drill them for questions, they will just keep you coming back and adjusting you. But that is only a band-aid for a underlying condition.

When I moved from Alaska to Portland, Oregon I felt like I was free from the cold… But that was only the beginning of my healing journey, because it rains A LOT here! I am a walking barometer… the day before it rains, I feel it. So not only internally, but environmentally I had triggers.

I also was starting to realize that everything that I put in my mouth was making me have pain. Like I was digesting knives type of pain. That was when I went gluten free, and within one month the endometriosis pain went from a 20 on the pain scale to a 5! I was amazed! There was one instance the month before where I had a pain attack as I was driving home, which was a 40 minute drive…I really should have either pulled over or gone to the ER. But I made it home and felt like I was dying.

I had to learn how to read labels, how to decode all the chemical language in packaged food, and to learn how to cook all over again. I was a really good cook…before I went gluten free… I subscribed to a lot of gluten free blogs, tried a lot of failed recipes, learned which restaurants I could get around the whole gluten issue.

Then six months later I tried going dairy free because I had horrible acne. I figured there were enough dairy subs out there so I could survive. A lot of my recipes on my blog were actually not bad for being desperate for something tasty to eat. My acne went down a little bit, but now that I had eliminated dairy from my diet I realize I was actually lactose intolerant.

When you eliminate something from your diet and later re-introduce it, the symptoms come back 10 times as strong. At least if it was something your body was fighting.

Then a year later, and I’m still dealing with the pain, my chiropractor mentions to try going off grains because they have been shown to loosen the ligaments and cause the bones to slip out of joint, (a term called ligament laxity). So I give it a shot. I used to eat oatmeal everyday for breakfast, so that sure wasn’t helping me. I did notice the pain getting better, but I didn’t really know what to eat, so I made a lot of bean soups for protein. That was when I realized that legumes were the main trigger for my fibromyalgia flare-ups!

Over the last 12 years I had to learn by trial and error because the medical industry is not interesting in healing you, but masking the symptoms. When I read 10 years ago that people were able to put their fibromyalgia into remission it would bring me to tears, because I never thought that would be me EVER! But today I do not take pharmaceutical medicines. I really can’t find any that don’t have gluten, dairy, or grain products in them. There are some, and I do have them as a backup if I REALLY need something, but that has not happened in a while.

So what did I do besides eliminate foods that triggered pain? I eat organic! The pesticides, herbicides, and GMO foods are HORRIBLE for a compromised immune system! I shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and just about everything that I buy has to be cooked. I don’t own a microwave (they are just as bad and kill the nutrients in your food).

I also take a combo of supplements and essential oils to help maintain my overall health. Three key supplements are Vanadyl Sulfate also known as vanadium, which helps insulin production. With me being hypoglycemic, this was key! Because when I was feeling like I was hungry I found my body hurt the most, but vanadium helped. Not everyone believes they have blood sugar issues, but try vanadium which is a natural source from mushrooms and shellfish, and see how your body feels. It won’t hurt you if you don’t have insulin problems.

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Another supplement which is a trace mineral is Chromium Picolinate, which helps keep blood sugar at normal levels by improving the way your body uses insulin. So think of Vanadium as the car, and Chromium as the driver which takes your food and delivers it to the right places for you to utilize nutrients. It works really well to balance blood sugar spikes if you tend to eat a lot of sugary foods such as fruit, dried fruit, or juices.

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The last key supplement is an amino acid called L-Glutamine. This supplement helps heal a leaky gut, improves brain function, and helps in cell hydration to recover faster from injuries. I take this first thing in the morning on an empty stomach (which is key), and wait about an hour before eating breakfast. This should be taken EVERY morning for best results. I get the powdered form and put a teaspoon scoopful in my mouth and wash it down with some water, that way I know I’m getting every last drop. It has no taste, so that’s even better!

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This has become quite lengthy, so I will cut it short here and will write a part two on essential oils I take for different symptoms, and ingredients to look out for to minimize flare ups.

If you have any questions or tips that has helped you in healing fibromyalgia please leave a comment below, I would love to hear about it! I have included links to the three supplement brands I use that are free of bad ingredients and paleo safe. I do not get paid for recommending these products, I am honestly just offering tips that has helped me.

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Posted by on August 15, 2015 in A day in the life of Jeni, Health

 

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Paleo diet to control fibromyalgia and stirfry recipe

Paleo diet to control fibromyalgia and stirfry recipe

Okay I’ve had these recipes stored in my brain and never have written them down before, so you might see a few  new recipes appear on the blog. 

In the last year I have gone strict Paleo and I have found that it has really helped with controlling my fibromyalgia. To sum it up I avoid all dairy (even butter and ghee), all grains including rice and quinoa, no legumes, I even have found that guar gum had been an issue because it is from legumes. So that pretty much eliminated anything coconut milk-based, which was what a disappointment because I LOVE coconut bliss ice cream. I also found there is only ONE almond milk that does NOT contain guar gum in it and that is the Pacific organic vanilla almond milk (believe me I searched All labels to find this one). 

I have found the Paleo diet had really turn everything around for me and I make sure to stick with it, no cheating.  I do recommend it for anybody who has autoimmune pain issues, it is the cleanest diet I have found. Also a side note tip to survive the paleo diet without coconut milk for your coffee, I use Liquid Stevia in the vanilla cream flavor to black coffee and it really makes it taste yummy. 

If you would like to hear more about how I put my fibromyalgia in REMISSION using the paleo diet please comment below. It’s not all 100% diet, I also have supplements I use that help as well. But I would say it’s 95% diet, and 5% exercise and supplements. That is not an exaggeration. Occasionally I will get a flare up, but that is usually when I eat out and the cooks got something wrong. I will also in another post give tips for how to eat out at restaurants, because I have found that my biggest challenge. 

Now on to the recipe! 

  
Paleo chicken sausage stir-fry

This isn’t really like a Chinese stir-fry, but more like a fresh American Thai stir-fry. I think you’ll like this recipe, it always is a staple in my house. I’ve tried it with carrots instead of celery and it’s not the best. So subbing veggies might give it a interesting twist. 

Ingredients: 
1 Tbs avocado oil
3 Aidells chicken apple sausage, chopped (Costco has best price)

1/2 Onion, chopped

1 cup red cabbage, chopped 

3 celery stalks, chopped 

Seasonings:

1/2 tsp Salt, 

1/2 tsp Garlic powder, 

1 Tbs cumin, 

1 tsp dried basil, 

1/4 tsp celery seed, (optional)

1/4 tsp Cajuns choice creole seasoning, (or any creole seasoning you can find, optional) 

1/4 tsp ground ginger.

1/2 tsp (or a few squirts) Worcestershire sauce

The Method:

I start by chopping the cabbage, onion, and celery first and then add it to a frying pan with a little bit of avocado oil. Then turn the heat on to medium heat and then I start chopping up the sausage to add to the mix and I let that cook until it’s almost halfway done, stirring occasionally (look at the cabbage and onions to tell how done they are). 

Then I add in my chopped mushrooms. Add the dry seasonings then stir. Then before it is done I add the worcestershire sauce. Make sure you do not over cool the veggies. The sausage is precooked so it’s ok if it’s not browned. 

Sometimes I add this to a paleo wrap (the coconut meat tortilla) to change it up a bit. (You can find them in the bread/bakery section at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers. 

I hope you try this super easy recipe and let me know how you like it! All spices were guesstimates since I just throw it all in the pan when I cook. 

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Food and drink

 

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Gluten Free Hair Products that are Bad for You

I wanted to revisit the post that I had written a while back about gluten free hair care products. The reason being is that the more I’ve had to narrow down what I put in my mouth it also has made me evaluate what I also put on my body.

The skin is an amazing organ that soaks up very quickly what you put on it. If you unknowingly put gluten in your mouth and you are intolerant or celiac than your body will reject it and you can figure out what you ate. But what if your shampoo, conditioner, or styling products ARE gluten free and you are noticing signs like you lose a lot of hair in the shower or you can’t get your hair to grow past a certain length? Maybe its more than just gluten you have to be concerned with.

Most people that start losing their hair think of “maybe it’s my thyroid” or “maybe there’s a hair growth serum to make my hair grow back”. Have you ever tried the simple trial and error method of switching your shampoo to see if you loose less hair?? That actually worked for me! Whereas a family member of mine went the thyroid method and is taking a pill. I do believe people have thyroid problems, but WHAT CAUSES the thyroid to be off? Could it be the chemicals we use that throw it off, and then we throw more chemicals at it in the form of a pill, and then we have to take another pill for the side effects?!? Lets wipe the slate clean, start over on how we view the products we use and try a more natural approach.

If you have food allergies then you are probably in the habit of reading labels on your food products, but how many times do you read the ingredient list on your styling products, lotions, hand soaps, or lipstick? Do you see where I’m getting at? There are so many harmful chemicals that the FDA is allows in consumer products because they have not been “proven harmful”. Wait… how long do they have to determine before they take it off the shelf if it is?!? In other countries outside the US they look at it in a perspective that it has not been “proven SAFE” so they won’t allow it. Scary thought if you live in the US! So the key is to educate yourself on the ingredients that you come in contact with everyday.

Lets look at a biggie, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. It’s in almost anything that cleans, from floor cleaner to your toothpaste! I’m sorry, but I don’t want to put floor cleaner in my mouth… no surprise it’s in shampoo as well. When chemicals come in contact with your skin it is immediately absorbed into the bloodstream. So the risk is much greater and faster than if you ate it, but most people don’t think of that because you are usually washing it off right after you put it on.  But think of your daily routine, you brush your teeth (SLS’s in toothpaste), you wash your hands (SLS’s in hand soap), you wash your hair (SLS’s in shampoo), you clean your dishes (SLS’s in dish soap), you wash your windows, floors, counters, (SLS’s in cleaning products). Do you see a pattern? It’s not just a little amount, its the accumulation of little amounts EVERY DAY that become toxic and lead to serious health problems.

Another scary thought is that beauty products do not have any federal regulations on them. They can be called “Natural” or “Healthy” and even “Organic” and be far from any one of those statements in reality. The only way you know if beauty products are truly organic is if it has the “USDA ORGANIC” seal on the packaging. My method lately is if I can’t pronounce it or it’s not grown from the ground, then I tend to stay clear of it.

The more I eliminate toxic chemicals from my daily routine, the better I feel physically every day. It takes a lot of thought process unfortunately in the beginning, but in the long run it becomes a routine and all the harmful products are no longer in your thought process.

Do yourself a favor and go through some of your everyday products and see how many contain SLS’s in them, you may be shocked! Then the next step is eliminating them from your routine and finding a more natural and safe product in it’s place.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Health

 

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Mediterranean Summer Salad

Long time no see! The last few months since I started my new job I have been trying to play catchup in life and have not been very inspired to cook. This usually happens when I start a new employment until I start to get into a routine. But as of late I’ve been eating out a lot and finally am getting sick of it. So now I’m creating. 🙂
Last night I threw together an experiment and hoped for the best. Thankfully it was a winner! 😀 Thankfully it’s really easy to make as well. The flavors in this salad are perfect for summer as it’s very fresh and light. This dish was inspired by a conversation about the Mediterranean Diet someone at work has been on lately. I think I might look more into it!

I call for “cans of”, but if you want to put in the extra time to cook your garbanzo beans I made mine in a “beyond rice, cooker” crockpot so it could soak for 3-4 hours and then cook for a minimum of 3 hours. I cooked mine in water, pink hymilian salt, and dropped a vegetable bouillon cube in for added protein and flavor.
Give it a try and plan a picnic on a beautiful day. I paired this with red lentils and green beans. Rinse and cook red lentils in chicken broth for 10 minutes, adding onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and 1/2 – 1 tsp dried thyme. Once cooked, add in cooked and drained green beans, and a little olive oil and that’s it. It packs a lot of protein in these two dishes and no meat had to be thawed (which is the main reason I barely eat meat…lack of planning lol!)
So now on to the recipe! 🙂

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Mediterranean Summer Salad

Ingredients:
• 1 can Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 can black olives, drained and sliced
• 1 can artichoke hearts, drained (I got the ones in water to cut the cost)
• 1/4 – 1/2 red onion, diced
• 1 green onion, diced
• Lemon zest of 1 lemon
• Juice of 1/2 a lemon
• Olive Oil to coat (3-5 Tbs)
• 1 Tbs Italian seasoning
• Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and marinate in the fridge overnight. It will taste good when freshly made, but even better if you marinate it.
Serves 4-6

I hope you are enjoying the beautiful spring and cooking fresh homemade meals. It really is an investment to your health to cook instead of eating out. I just feel better when I know what goes into my food instead of hoping I don’t get sick from an ingredient someone forgot to tell me, or cross contamination.
Also a recent change to my diet, I have been off corn for almost six months now if not longer, and cheating doesn’t even appeal to me anymore. It really made a difference in my digestion. When I ate corn it was organic as much as possible, and even that bothered me. Now I am starting to cut out nightshades too. I do notice when I eat potatoes on how much it effects my alertness and pain levels. Potatoes are my #1 comfort food too. But I do want to feel even better than I have been and hopefully one day the weather changes will not effect me as much as it does.
Look forward to more creations coming up and fresh meal ideas.
Thank you also for hanging in there while my life was put on hold.

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Porcupine Meatballs (no road kill was used in this recipe…)

I had tasted this recipe on Sunday at a friends house and usually I bring my own food but I had been eating mine the last few days so I was open to something different. When I ask my friends “what’s all in it” usually a few key ingredients get missed and I end up hurting.
I think I asked my friend 2-3 times before eating it to be sure the story was straight. So I gave one a try. They were sooo good! So I asked again so I can copy down the recipe and when she said tomato soup instead of sauce my eyes got real big! Uh oh! But she just miss spoke and it was really sauce. (I’m sure not all ingredients used were completely GF cuz I did notice some stomach cramping, but I lived).
After asking the last (probably 6th time by now) what all was in it, she finally found the recipe card and I snapped a few pics. Yea!
So here’s the recipe. It’s pretty easy. Probably 45 minutes from start to finish. Or an hour if you include cleanup.
I’m all for quick and easy! Even though my back feels like I was standing in the kitchen for 2 hours…makes it hard for me to enjoy cooking with my defects!
For some reason I enjoy baking more than cooking, maybe less chopping? But I barely bake anymore because I’ve been avoiding sugar.
Which do you prefer? Cooking or baking? Is it possible to like to both? Let me know in the comments which you prefer more? That way I can also add more of those recipes to my page. 😉
Enjoy!

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Porcupine Meatballs
• 1/2 Cup Jasmine Rice
• 1/2 Cup water
• 1/3 Cup diced onions
• 1/4 tsp celery seed
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1/8 tsp pepper
• 1/8 tsp GF garlic powder (or a few cloves fresh pressed garlic).
Side note: I’m thinking this recipe needs an herb, but can’t decide which to use. Parsley? Rosemary? Basil? Any of them would deepen the flavor for sure. About 1/2 tsp.
Also refrigerating over night would really enhance the flavor of these little porcupine balls.

—————-
• 1 Pound Lean Ground Beef
—————-
For Sauce:
• 1 (15 oz) can GF tomato sauce
• 1 cup water
• 2 TBS brown sugar
• 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce (Lea & Perrins brand is Gluten Free).

The Steps:
1) Preheat oven to 400°F

2) Mix the first 7 ingredients together and let sit for 5-10 minutes to let the rice soak up some water or the rice will be crunchy when it’s finished.

3) Then add to the above mixture:
1 pound lean ground beef (preferably grass fed).
Mix together with hands until all incorporated. Roll into 1-1/2″ balls.

4) Heat 2 TBS coconut oil in a large skillet on medium heat and drop 1-1/2″ round meatballs in heated oil until brown on all sides.

5) In separate bowl mix all the ingredients for the sauce together until incorporated.

6) Using a 9″x9″ or 9″x13″ pan (depending how big your meatballs turned out). Transfer all cooked meatballs into this dish and pour tomato sauce mixture over top.
Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Turning and basting with the tomato sauce after 15 minutes.

7) Remove from oven and check the center to be sure they are cooked all the way through. Then serve over rice, GF pasta, or whatever your heart desires.

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Tuscany Bean Soup

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So this last month I’ve found out I’ve been gluten poisoned by supplements my doctor gave me. The sales rep lied to them saying it was GF when it wasn’t. So I was the one to burst their bubble.
No scary rash this time, probably because it was in low doses, but whenever I eat it’s like I’m digesting knives. So I put myself on a liquid diet this week. I’ve been doing healing smoothies in the morning, purée soups for lunch and no coffee.
Surprisingly I’m quite awake with no coffee!!!! That was a big shocker to me!
So something must be healing. Unfortunately all the problems with other areas of me have come back with a vengeance. 😦 I have a REAL naturopath I’m going to see next week. Let’s hope we can mop up this mess.
So on to the recipe, been slacking on getting this posted all week.
It’s fabulous, so try it on those days you need to warm your belly. :]
Happy Friday!!

Tuscany Bean Soup

Ingredients:
• 1 Tbs Grapeseed Oil
• 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
• 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
• 4 cups chopped raw kale
• 4 cups GF chicken broth
• 2 cups filtered water
• 2 1/2 cups cooked white beans, rinsed
• Turkey kielbasa sausage (I use Hormel natural selects, no nitrates)
• 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
• 2 tsp dried Italian herb seasoning
• 1/4 tsp Salt
• 1/8 tsp pepper
• 1 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:
In a large pot, heat grapeseed oil. Add garlic, sausage, and onion; sauté until sausage is cooked and onions translucent. Add kale and sauté, stirring, until wilted. Add broth, water, cooked beans, tomato, herbs, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes.
In a blender or food processor, mix the partial or all the soup until smooth (it tastes the same puréed as it does chunky, choose your texture). Return to pot and simmer 15 minutes. Then serve. It’s sooo yummy!

And here’s a Higgley moment. :-]

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

I can’t believe this month went by so fast! I have been so sick lately with stomach issues and then my normal stuff x10 so it’s not been a fun one. I have had no motivation to cook or anything lately and basically been living on raw veggies and hummus. One good thing out of all this is that by no mental effort, I’ve hit my goal weight. (Sorry if that offends anyone!) So I’m happy about that, but I wish my stomach would cooperate! I still have a bunch of tests to run to figure out the problem. Sometimes I feel like a genetic defect and they should just start over and hit the reset button!
I have a feeling my diet will be changing drastically in the next few months, so there might be some yummy recipes coming. (Here’s hoping!)
I mentioned in my last post that I was going to try a kale basil hummus…and it was not that tasty, so I’ll spare you from trying it too. I think mainly my beans weren’t cooked enough and the consistency was not great (I cooked mine in the pressure cooker). But this one is great and two of my co-workers were loving it today. 😀
I’m also glad it’s payday week because I just had to clean out my veggie drawer that wasn’t looking too happy. 😦
So here’s the recipe, now back to being conformed to my work chair another 5 hours.

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
• 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
• 3-4 cups cooked garbanzo beans (chick-peas), drained
• 1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
• 1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1 red pepper seeded, chopped & roasted (I did mine in a toaster oven on broil)
• 1/2 tsp salt (if using dry beans, 1/4 tsp if using canned)
• 1/4 tsp dried parsley
• 1/4 cup olive oil (add however much you like for consistency)
• 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
• 1/8 tsp cumin

How to:
– To prepare garbanzo beans in pressure cooker, add 7 cups of water/chicken broth to 2-2.5 cups dry (rinsed) beans.
– Seal top, and cook according to your pressure cookers instructions for 25-30 minutes.
– Rinse, de-seed and cut in large chunks your red pepper and put on broil until it’s looking roasted. Maybe 15 minutes? I didn’t put mine right next to the heat so it could take less time, just keep checking it.
– Once all that is ready, drain beans, peel garlic, juice lemon, dump all ingredients and spices in food processor except oil.
– Turn on to low setting until it’s starting to look smooth.
– Turn up to high setting and drizzle in olive oil from the opening in lid until it starts to get the consistency you like.
– Taste test to see if it needs tweaking, then either refrigerate for an hour to enhance flavor, or devour and leave no trace behind. 😉

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I hope you are having a great week and leave any suggestions for hummus experiments in the comments or yummy ones you have tried. 🙂 Thanks!

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