Friday, May 29, 2015

How I go medication-free with fibro; plus cauliflower potato salad

Mom and I are going biking.
Is there really a world where medications help relieve pain without side effects? In my world, I get no pain relief but all of the side effects. Anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin---you name it, I get zippo on the positive side and plenty of negative side effects. That's why I go medication-free except for Armour Thyroid which is compounded to leave out the fillers (they blunted its effectiveness).

Mom and I are going hiking after I rest up.
How do I control my pain without medications? Trust me, sometimes I am tempted to take a Tylenol or aspirin, especially when my fibro flares up. But then I say to myself, "Wait a minute, Einstein. Haven't you already experienced elevated liver enzymes from taking medications previously? Show me the benefit."

Instead, I cope with these strategies:
  • Exercise including working on good posture. (I know you're thinking but you're in pain. For me, it helps to move around.)
  • Muscle release.
  • Meditation.
  • Positive thoughts.
  • Heat and ice to painful muscles.

The no-potato salad
The big three for relieving my pain are exercise including working on good posture, muscle release (myofascial release) and meditation. Exercise is the one that most people don't get. How can it relieve pain or how can you do it if you're in pain? I guess it's like a feel-good drug because it elevates my endorphins.

The best exercise program for someone with fibro should focus on rebalancing the body. Let's face it. We're off balance. Well, some of us are more off balance than others.

What I mean is we're kind of like an old door hanging off balance. The door didn't get off balance right away. First, there might have been a loose screw but if no one fixes the problem, the door becomes so unbalanced it won't even close.

The same thing happens to a body in pain. We shift this way and that way trying to deal with the pain. We slouch because we are miserable. The body gets out of alignment because some muscles are tighter than others. Pretty soon, everyday movements become inhibited and more painful.

I spend a lot of time doing an exercise program that rebalances my body, releases tight muscles, relieves my pain, and improves my posture by lengthening and strengthening my muscles. It's the Essentrics program (also called Classical Stretch).

Myofascial release is the second of the big three. My husband learned to do the technique on me from a physical therapist I saw for years. Myofascial release is a stretching technique used by physical therapists to treat patients with a variety of soft tissue problems. Like most things, it only helps if you are doing other key things like a stretching/strengthening program as well as getting proper nutrition.

Myofascial release is stretching of the fascia. Fascia is a thin tissue that covers all the organs of the body. This tissue covers every muscle and every fiber within each muscle. Fibro sufferers have short, tight muscles as well as fascia which causes pain. Myofascial release helps by releasing the uneven tightness in the fascia.
In other words, Myofascial Release is stretching of the fascia.

During a myofascial release session, small areas of muscles are stretched at a time. The therapist finds tight spots by feel and also is guided by patient input. Myofascial release is not massage. It's actually a technique of trying to equalize muscle tension throughout the body. Unequal muscle tension can compress nerves and muscles causing pain.

I stress it's not a miracle cure. It won't work by itself. I had myofascial release treatments for years but my real progress was made when I added nutritional support and an exercise program designed to rebalance my body.

Meditation is another way I relieve pain. I practice it every day. See my post here for more information:

Another thing I have to do every day is practice good nutrition. One of my favorite recipes is Cauliflower Potato Salad.

Here's what you need for 4 servings:

1/2 medium cauliflower, chopped into florets
1-2 hard-boiled eggs
1 dill pickle, chopped (I used Bubbies brand)
1 celery stalk, chopped
Optional: 1 chard stalk, chopped
2 tsp. yellow mustard (I use Eden organic yellow mustard)
1 T. olive oil
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper

Here's what you do:

Chop all your veggies. Place in a pot of salted, boiling water. Cook until fork tender. Drain the veggies. Then, emerse them an icewater bath to cool the veggies. Mix the cooled veggies in a large bowl with the mustard, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. For a creamier version, add in 1 T. of plain yogurt of your choice. Toss in the eggs. Chill until ready to serve.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Too many pit stops with fibro: plus red, white and blue jigglers

Why don't you come out and play, Bailey?

Let's talk about too many bathroom stops because of fibromyalgia. I feel like I spend half my life in the bathroom peeing. My husband decided to get a low-flush toilet so I wouldn't be wasting as much water each time I flushed.

Maybe you're like me and always on the look out for bathrooms when away from home. I always thought it was because I was born with a bladder the size of a shot glass. Or I just drank too many beverages with caffeine. Little did I know it was a problem faced by individuals with fibromyalgia.

Why do individuals with FMS "drink like a fish and pee like a racehorse?"

Hormonal problems result in decreased fluid and salt retention which increases urine output and thirst. Drinking up to four times as much liquid as the average person and increasing salt intake will help you feel better.

How do you know if you are drinking enough water? If your urine is bright yellow, you're not getting enough. Dry lips and eyes are another indication.

Drinking more water will help you feel better but it won't keep you out of the bathroom.

What can you do to improve this problem?

  •  If you frequently wake up to urinate during the night, do not drink a lot of fluids near bedtime. I limit beverages after 8 p.m.
  • Don't consume caffeine after 4 p.m.
  • Coffee and tea are chocked full of healthy antioxidants but don't overdo. After two cups of tea or coffee, switch to water or herbal drinks.
"We never drink anything with caffeine after 4 p.m. and we sleep like babies."
  • Limit fluids consumed with meals as it dilutes stomach acid and effectiveness of digestive enzymes.
With all these restrictions, how do you consume more liquids?

  • Keep water with you all the time. Take frequent sips. Make it your mission to drink more water.
If you have other suggestions, please share.

Red, white and blue jigglers

Individuals with fibromyalgia would do well to steer clear of processed foods which often contain preservatives and other additives rather than whole food ingredients. For Memorial Day, why not try an old favorite, “Red, White and Blue gelatin jigglers?” Instead of using artificially flavored-boxed gelatin, make it with fruits and vegetables, packets of gelatin, and unprocessed honey or other sweetener of choice.

Here are the ingredients in the boxed gelatin, Berry Blue Gelatin:


Here’s what you need to make your own all-natural version:

4 packets of gelatin
1 cup of liquid to be heated
3 cups of cold liquid

Place the 1 cup of liquid in a sauce pan, sprinkle the four packets of gelatin over the liquid and let it rest for 5 minutes. Heat the liquid and gelatin in the pan over medium heat and stir until dissolved.  Remove from the heat. Pour the three cups of cold liquid into an 8 X 8 X 2-inch pan, add the warm mixture, stir softly, cover and refrigerate until set. Cut into shapes and plate. Refrigerate when not serving.

First layer: watermelon
The liquid for this recipe can be made from the juice of fruit and/or vegetables, alternatives milks, etc.

For red gelatin: try beets, cherries, cranberries, guava, papaya, radishes, raspberries, red apples, red bell peppers, red grapes, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes and watermelon.

For blue gelatin: try blackberries, blueberries, grapes, plums, purple endive, purple cabbage, purple potatoes.

Alternative milk beverage gets heated
For white: try bananas, cabbage, jicama, parsnips, peeled apples, peeled pears, cucumbers, water chestnuts,

Make the juice from these fruits and vegetables with a juicer or puree whole pieces in a food processor.

To make red, white and blue jigglers or dessert, make one batch of each color from a fruit or vegetable of your choice. Use a larger pan. Pour the red in first. Refrigerate until set. Next add the white and refrigerate until set. Finally add the blue. Cut into shapes and serve.

Recipe contributed to:

Friday, May 15, 2015

The low fermentation lifestyle; cauliflower breakfast calzone

Bailey, the cat, and Misha, the husky, show us how to totally relax.

Fibro sufferers do best on low carb, high protein diets, according to Jacob Teitelbaum of The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution.

In my last post,
I talked about carbohydrates and how some can sabotage your attempts to control your fibromyalgia symptoms. I scrutinize the carbohydrates I eat to make sure they are easily digested and monitor their serving size as well.

How can carbohydrates be the enemy?

The majority of fibro sufferers have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which is caused by infections in the bowels, including candida and/or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO occurs in 90-100 percent of fibro patients.

 These conditions result in overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. This bad bacteria feeds on foods high in carbohydrates that are not easily digested. Conclusion: avoid the foods that feed bad bacteria because reducing bacterial overgrowth can significantly alleviate FM symptoms.

What do you eat to reduce bacterial, yeast overgrowths?

I focus on eating low FP carbs in modest amounts. Carbohydrates are assigned a FP potential number from 1 up depending on their biochemistry (types of sugars, fiber, sugar alcohols, glycemic index). I am not a biochemist so I rely on the work done by Norman Robillard in his book, Fast Tract Digestion IBS. Robillard has done all the food analysis and provides charts indicating the FP of most foods and the amount you can eat to avoid bacterial overgrowth. You can use a formula provided by Robillard to determine the FP if a food is not listed by him.

What do I eat on a typical day?

Robillard recommends keeping the total daily FP around 25-30. However, I tried to stay below 25 for the first six months on this diet. Use your daily symptoms (burping, gas, stomach upset, constipation, diarrhea, etc.) as a guide to help you determine if you are going too high in daily FP.

Mainstays: grassfed eggs, lactose-free yogurt, low FP veggies (bok choy, zucchini, spinach, asparagus, chard and more), low FP fruit such as cantaloupe, strawberries.

Example: Spinach and lactose-free cheddar cheese omelet (Serves 1-FP 2): 1 cup raw spinach and 2 eggs.
Serve alone or add diced chicken or other meat of choice.

Mainstays: 4 ounces veggie/fruit juice made with juicer, salad with veggies, hard boiled egg and diced chicken or fish.

Example: Chef Salad (FP-3) with 2-3 cups of leafy greens, 2 cherry tomatoes, 3 slices cucumber, 2 slices red pepper, 2 ounces shredded sharp cheddar, 3 ounces diced chicken or tuna, 1 hard-boiled egg, 4 black olives, olive oil/vinegar dressing.

Mainstays: chicken, salmon, sablefish, ground turkey with greens, roasted or steamed veggies.

 Example: Broiled salmon with sauteed asparagus and mushrooms with mixed green salad (FP 7-serves 1) 1 salmon filet, 1-2 cremini mushrooms sliced, 2-3 stalks asparagus,  2 cups mixed greens with simple dressing of olive oil, salt/pepper and lemon juice.

Cauliflower breakfast calzone in the making
Here's a recipe I tried this week. My report: YUM! Start by making cauliflower crusts. Serves 3-FP 5  per serving)

You need:
1 1/2 cups riced cauliflower
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg
pinch of salt and black pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano

Mix everything together. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spritz with light spray of olive oil. Make 3 discs or crusts on the parchment paper. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top and press out the discs. Bake until crispy, about 12 minutes.

Preparing the filling
 Prepare your filling. It can be as simple as tomatoes and cheese. Or try my version which includes sauteed chard (1 small stalk), 3 diced cherry tomatoes and a light sprinkling of cheese. Add an over-easy egg for more protein.

Place everything on the cauliflower crust.
Finished product
Fold over and enjoy.

Recipe contributed to:

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Low carb best for fibro; plus brownie cookie dough milkshake

Nika is my loveable, happy malamute.
Happy Mother's Day from me and all my fur-kids!

Yes, fur-kids need a mom willing to get down on the floor with a flashlight to search for a crumb of food under the dishwasher.

As a fibro sufferer, I wear all kinds of hats---fur-kid mom, wife, gardener, writer and low fermentation potential (FP) chef. Low FP means I have to be my own food police because not all carbohydrates are created equal.

I stick to a diet that is lower in carbohydrates. That doesn't mean I don't eat carbohydrates. But the ones I choose have to be easily digested (low FP) so they don't stick around and encourage the growth of bad bacteria in my gut. I also must monitor the serving size of anything that contains carbohydrates.

Fibro sufferers do best on low carb, high protein diets, according to Jacob Teitelbaum of The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution.

Why do fibro sufferers do best on low carb diets?
Sixty percent of fibromyalgia sufferers have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and 70 percent have symptoms of IBS. These IBS-symptoms are usually triggered by bowel infections, such as an overgrowth of candida or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Both of these conditons result in an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut.

Your health problems may seem to have started out with IBS. But how did you get IBS?  A diet high in sugar, antibiotics and acid blockers have changed the mix of bacteria in our guts. There are more bacteria in the colon than cells in the whole rest of our bodies, so overgrowth with toxic bacteria is a big problem.

Today, it's believed that carbohydrate malabsorption coupled with SIBO may be the ultimate cause of IBS.
Studies show that SIBO occurs in 90 to 100 percent of fibromyalgia patients. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia is the result of SIBO and that treating bacterial overgrowth can significantly reduce FM symptoms.

SIBO is defined as the presence of an abnormally high number of bacteria in the upper part of the small intestine. At this level, the normally harmless bacteria that live in our gut can become harmful. They begin to produce toxins, enzymes, and intestinal gases, that can disrupt digestion, cause intense physical discomfort and even damage the small intestine.

The symptoms of SIBO, like IBS, can include abdominal pain or cramps, diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, acid reflux, flatulence, nausea, dehydration and fatigue.  More severe symptoms can include weight loss, failure to thrive, anemia, bleeding or bruising, night blindness, bone pain and fractures, leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune reactions, among others.
How do you treat bacterial, yeast overgrowths?

From my experience, prescription drugs don't really work to control candida or SIBO. They may "help" initially but then you need to dig in and prepare for a lifetime of low FP eating. The best treatment is through modification of your diet to focus on low FP carbohydrates which means eating a lot of low-starch veggies and good quality protein.

You also will need more nutritional support than with other illnesses. Increased bowel infections (IBS, SIBO) means decreased nutrient absorption. Some of these increased nutrient needs include B12, magnesium, iron, essential fatty acids and more.

I don't want to sound like a "Debbie Downer" but once you have SIBO, the only way to control your fibro symptoms is to change the way you eat; supplement with vitamins and minerals; and take digestive enzymes and HCL-pepsin.

Brownie cookie dough milkshake
Okay, for Mother's Day, we'll let you take a "pass," sort of, with this brownie cookie dough milkshake.

I've really been going crazy for milkshakes recently. There's been my healthy milkshake , recovery milkshake, cookie dough milkshake and now brownie cookie dough milkshake.

For desserts, I really like healthy milkshakes. It's like I'm getting a treat but chocked full of healthy and low FP ingredients. I always use my homemade yogurt (lactose-free) to get a dose of good bacteria.

Here's what you need:

You need frozen milk ice cubes (about 1 cup of your favorite milk beverage), 1/2 cup or more of yogurt of your choice (lactose free or low lactose, no sugar), 1/4 tsp.powdered stevia, 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract, pinch of salt, and 1 T. cocoa powder.
Mix everything up in your blender.

Now, for the your mix-ins. Prepare one batch of brownie cookie dough.

 Mix 1 T. almond butter (or other seed or nut butter), 2 T. almond flour (or more seed or nut butter), 2 T. coconut oil, 2 T. ghee (or replace with 2 T. coconut oil), 1 T. cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, dash of nutmeg, pinch of salt, 1/4 tsp. vanilla powder, stevia to taste. Tip: soften the coconut oil and ghee. Spoon the mixture into a small loaf pan and place in the fridge for firming up. Then, cut into bite-sized pieces.

Mix in 1 T. brownie cookie dough bites and optional 1 T. chopped almonds  per 1 cup of healthy milkshake mixture.

Recipe contributed to:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Get yourself back plus cookie dough frozen yogurt

An appropriate quote from

You’d think a mountainous half-marathon would more than do someone in who suffers from fibromyalgia. Instead, Robie Creek 2015 was a life-changing experience for me.

During the event, I can remember reaching the summit at 8.5 miles and seeing a sign that read, “Robie Creek can be a life-changing event.” I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me. The only thing I’m feeling now is pain and agony.”

But the words on the sign couldn’t be any truer. My old confidence and “can-do” attitude have returned. I’m getting myself back again. I no longer say to myself, “I can’t do that because I have fibromyalgia.” Instead, if I really want to do something, I can make it happen. No, I can’t do everything like a kid without a chronic illness. It takes planning, preparation and adjustments but I can still do it.

Post-Robie, I feel empowered and no longer afraid to take on life’s challenges. Yes, Robie created lots of sore muscles, fatigue and discomfort but I got over that and now, only a good feeling remains.

In the darkest days of my illness, I suffered with depression and sometimes suicidal thoughts. I would shut the door of my bedroom, throw myself on the bed and sob hysterically at times because of what fibromyalgia had taken away from me.

But I could never quite give in to fibromyalgia and just accept the status quo. Doctors I went to for help never saw the whole picture of fibromyalgia, and they never connected the dots. Instead, they treated my low thyroid or they treated my candida overgrowth or they recommended physical therapy for my pain or they prescribed medication for my sinusitis. I got slightly better but without the whole picture, I still floundered.

Then, I discovered the book, From Fatigued to Fantastic, by Jacob Teitelbaum. I recognized myself instantly in his descriptions of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. His “SHINE” protocol was right on target. Read more here:

Hormonal deficiencies
Nutritional support

I also found great nutritional support from the book, Fast Tract Digestion, by Norman Robillard. Read more here:

I was on target to controlling this disabling disease when I crashed on my bike last November and fractured my wrist. Surgery, pain and medications brought all my symptoms crashing back and with it, my negative, “I can’t do anything anymore,” attitude. I was afraid to venture out on my bike or even walk my dogs because of fear of what might happen. I give credit to my husband and a close friend for not giving up on me despite my numerous meltdowns.

At the finish line, I heard my friend shout, “See, I knew you could do it. You’re a strong, fit lady.” I never thought I would hear those words again.

Don’t give up if you are trying to control your fibromyalgia symptoms. There’s no instant remedy or cure. It’s going to take a long time with a lot of ups and downs. Don’t let the “downs” define you.

Once you get to feeling better, stick with your protocol. Don’t get all crazy and think, “Oh, now I can stay up all night, eat like a teenager and just go wild.”

Bailey, the husky, gives me an "I'm glad you are better" slup.
Yes, I am feeling better but everyday is just the same when it comes to how well I treat myself. I spend lots of time in meal preparation, exercising to stretch and strengthen my muscles, and meditating daily. I still take my vitamins and other supplements to support the healing of my digestive tract. Yes, I get tired of it but yes, it’s the only way.

If you want to beat the disease, make yourself a priority. Every now and then, reward yourself with a little treat whether it’s a special outing, extra "me time" or preparing a special recipe.

Cookie dough frozen yogurt
I’ve got a great idea if you want a treat----Cookie Dough Frozen Yogurt.
Frosty ice cream plus cookie dough and chocolate chips
Here's what you need:

Make one batch of healthy frosty ice cream + 1 T. of your favorite seed or nut butter. Recipe here:
Make one batch of homemade chocolate chips. Recipe here:
Make one batch of cookie dough: mix 1 cup nut butter, 1/2 cup coconut oil or ghee, 3 T. almond flour, stevia to taste, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, dash of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. vanilla powder; freeze in bite-size pieces on a parchment-covered baking sheet.

Mixing in the cookie dough and chocolate chips
Mix the healthy frosty ice cream with about half of the cookie dough pieces and chocolate chips. Reserve the rest for nibbling on another time.


Recipe contributed to: