Tag Archives: health

OpenDoor – The Vegan Society 1976

Just a quick share while the blog is under refurbishment!

As I’m sure you know, I’m a very big 70s fan, and since I have recently returned to veganism, I thought this very 70s 30 minute BBC documentary on veganism was rather lovely. Completely dated of course (we have so much more choice today) but the arguments are still good 😀

Enjoy!

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Caretaker

It had occurred to me a while ago to start posting using the titles of the Voyager episodes, but life has been overwhelming over the past 6 months while I myself have – in a sense – been co-opted into the position of caretaker.

My (fairly) elderly mother moved in with us 6 months ago due to ill health at the time. But it transpired that much of her physical ill health was due to toxicity from her prescription medications, and now that that has been addressed, she is feeling physically well enough to go home again.

I can’t say how relieved I am.

We moved house into our new home with my mother, but consequently it has felt as though we were living in her house rather than the other way round. And I can’t begin to tell you how excruciatingly stressful it has been to have an effective stranger living in our home. Yes, she is my mother, but I have lived independently for almost 30 years, having left home at 16.

That’s not even to mention the fact that mother’s illness is not primarily physical but mental. I really don’t want to dwell on that here, but suffice to say that being a carer for a mentally ill person put extreme stress on me personally and my own mental health as well as the family generally.

One good thing that has come out of mother living with us has been that I finally admitted that I could not cope on my own with the housework (without putting to fine a point on it, none of the other 6 adults and teens in the house really do their fair share), and so I decided to employ cleaners to pull up the slack.

I wish I had been able to get over my pride/ guilt/ shame ten years ago when the children were little and I really needed help. Why do we women do this to ourselves? Struggle on, berating ourselves, assuming we have to do it all?

The only thing is that I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford them when mother leaves. But to be quite honest, I think that having my house and my life and independence back will be so wonderful that it won’t matter. I am really just looking forward to being alone together again.

I wanted moving to our new place to be the beginning of an adventure. It’s not quite the ‘homestead’ that I had dreamed of but it is our own place finally – with a garden where we cook grow food and do all those homemaker-y things I imagined I’d be able to learn here. It hasn’t been possible while mother has been living here, because all my energy has been focused on her. I feel terribly guilty about being selfish letting her go. But it is what she wants, and I am looking forward to resuming my “journey toward home”.

Perhaps, when we are more settled and have a solid routine, we could manage to let her return. But for now, I just need space and time to recover myself.

LLAP, Kathryn

They’re Civilians! Civilians with Partical Weapons!

Apologies for the rather long hiatus in posting. Life as a full time (mental health) carer has been very taxing indeed, and I have found that my life and ‘free’ time has no longer been my own and, when I have had free time, I have been too exhausted to use it productively.

There have been lots of things going on, and there are lots of things I could post about but I will have to think about what and how much to share, why I’m writing in the first place and who my audience might be.

Since the Autumn I have also been battling with the NHS system to get to the bottom of my health issues. I now have an official Consultant-led confirmation of the diagnosis of ME, although disappointingly that doesn’t seem to help much – the general gist of things is that they can’t really do anything very much to help me. But I have seen a neurologist and will be referred back to the Pain Clinic apart from other things.

Additionally, my GP has been looking for evidence of Cushing’s Disease. It is considered a ‘rare’ disease, but it is on the list of endocrine disorders that should be ruled out before diagnosing either Fibromyalgia or ME as well as Adrenal Fatigue/ Exhaustion. It’s actually in a way rather the opposite of Adrenal Exhaustion since AE is a lack of adrenal hormones (the adrenals are exhausted) whereas Cushing’s is an excess of adrenal hormones – in particular, cortisol, which may be caused either by overuse of steroid medicines or the presence of a pituitary or adrenal tumour.

After various stages of testing, I have an appointment for a kidney scan (primarily to find out why my blood pressure is so enormously high and resistant to meds), and I’m waiting for the results of a new MRI. My GP said that, even though my cortisol levels appear normal so far, if there is no mass on my kidneys she will order an adrenal scan as there is obviously something not quite right. So no results yet but I feel as though I’m making (slow) progress at last thanks to my lovely GP who is the first to take me seriously and keep on testing until we find the truth.

That’s all for now. I do plan to come back to blogging. If you’re reading, please let me know. If it’s only for me I may still post as I find it therapeutic. Talking of therapy, my therapy of choice is still Star Trek. Top marks to any Trekkie who is able to identify the episode – I’ll give you a clue, it’s from Star Trek Voyager – from which the title of this post is named. (I used it as I’m in the middle of an upsetting episode in real life, that has me confused and questioning everything I thought I knew, but that is for another day.)

LLAP

Postnatal Depletion—Even 10 Years Later

This is a really interesting article, and I can’t help but notice the similarity between the symptoms of what the author calls ‘post-natal depletion’ and ME/ CFS/ Fibromyalgia – doctors and scientists and article writers are constantly coming up with new theories,  but given that I got ill right after giving birth in 2003 (and the fact that I have had 9 pregnancies altogether, and at least 5 of those were back-to-back without a break), I wonder whether this might more readily explain how and why I became ill. And perhaps suggests a way forward to get healthy again.

http://goop.com/postnatal-depletion-even-10-years-later/

Studying Health and Nutrition the Fun Way, and Swedish Välling

We are on a bit of a ‘health-kick’ here right now – we’ve invested in a juicer, a manual grain-mill, and we are sprouting seeds, making coconut yoghurt and kefir, brewing kombucha, and having all sorts of fun! My 12yos is even growing wheatgrass to juice (they love the whole process! Though I am the only one who is willing to drink the stuff!)

I discovered that grain is easier to store for longer than flour, and there are advantages to milling your own grain in that the nutrients present in the flour begin to dissipate following the first 48 hours after milling. I’m reading a book called “Nourishing Traditions” which talks about the necessity of soaking grains the old-fashioned way, so we’ll try that some time too.

nourishing

This got me to thinking about Välling – the staple drink for babies in Sweden. I assumed it was something you had to buy ready-made, like rusks (does anybody remember having Farley’s rusks for breakfast?!) But then I found a really simple recipe:

Skrädmjölsvälling 1port

Ingredienser

Skrädmjöl 2-4 tsk
Vatten 2 dl
Salt

Gör så här

Koka upp tillsammans under omrörning och söta gärna med honung eller fruktsaft. Önskad mängd vatten kan naturligtvis bytas ut mot mjölk.

Basically, what you do is boil 2-4 teaspoons of flour, it can be wheat, whole wheat, rye, or oats, with 2dl water or milk. Stir constantly. Add salt and sugar (honey) if you want to and think the taste requires it.

Basically, I don’t recommend it – paediatricians in the UK and the US (and, I suspect, the World Health Organisation) don’t recommend wheat for babies under 8 months old, and don’t recommend putting any cereal, no matter how thin, in a baby’s bottle due to the risk of choking. Not to mention, don’t ever give babies salt! (And no honey before 8 months either.)

Another interesting fact that I discovered when my brother was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease is that it is a disease commonly found in Swedish people among others, and the suggestion at least on the Swedish side is too early introduction of wheat – before a baby’s digestive system is mature enough to stop the wheat particles from entering into the bloodstream.

Nevertheless, Välling is something so homely and comforting I can’t imagine Swedish people giving it up any time soon!

If you’re in the US, you can try and buy Välling at http://www.scandiafood.com/ (Just don’t give it to your kids) 😉

 

[Originally posted on the Svengelska Hemskolan blog]

p.s. Although I do love the book Nourishing Traditions, and I’m completely sold on the idea of the necessity of raw fermented foods in our diets, NT also advocates the ‘old fashioned’ eating of meat. I accept that there’s a valid health argument in the book for questioning our modern diets (the chapter on fats makes really interesting reading), but I reject its conclusions on ethical grounds.  So if you’re vegan/ vegetarian, you might want to be aware of that before thinking about purchasing the book.

Choices, Changes

Over the last few years, I have moved from a Paleo type of diet to Vegan and back again several times. This blog had ‘From Paleo to Vegan in one easy midlife crisis’ as its subtitle at one stage.

The truth is, though, that it hasn’t been ‘one easy midlife crisis’ at all of course, it’s been more like a car with a faulty starter motor, so I lurch from one obsession to the next, and never quite seem to get anywhere.

Every year, it seems, I try to go vegan again.

Even going back to being properly vegetarian seems to be a challenge this time. But I will keep trying.

It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t know either. I know.

I’ve had to block several over-zealous vegans who insist on sending me graphic pictures of animals being brutalised.

I know.
I really don’t want to see it.
I really don’t want to eat it.

So why do I keep falling off the vegan ‘wagon’? Why is it so difficult to stay vegan?

I have personally justified it with regard to my own specific health issues, most particularly PCOS which comes along with insulin insensitivity which means that, contrary to the oft-repeated mantra of ill-informed vegans that “carbs are not the problem”, they really can be a serious, even potentially life-threatening problem for people who can’t tolerate them.

Not all carbs are equal, and not all fats are equal, but that discussion is for another post. Suffice to say, though, that even allowing for the insulin insensitivity issue, it’s no real barrier to veganism. Low, or at least lower carb veganism is possible, it’s just more of a challenge.

On an unrelated note, I’m finding it a little bit difficult to stay ‘Christian’, or at least keep up the ‘respectable’ middle class mainstream image version of Christianity that is sometimes confused with authentic Christianity.

I’ve actually been exploring paganism – firstly for general cultural literacy (I had so many misconceptions) and secondly because it is something that has fascinated me for years. I will post again with more details about that exploration and what I’ve found, what I’ve been able to love and embrace, and what I’ve had to reject and draw the line at.

To me (and what was communicated to me by my Dad – what he saw in the Bible and in Christianity), the core of the faith is clearly love, peace, joy, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation and more love.

Matthew 12v7

But sadly it doesn’t seem to be what is commonly offered by the church. Certainly individual believers embody those principles and exude a genuine spirituality. But the church as a whole seems characterised by the very opposite: intolerance, unkindness, judgmentalism.

Why should this be?

In fact, these things are not unrelated at all.

Veganism is supposed to be about compassion, kindness, love for all creatures. And most of the vegans I have met in person do indeed embody the compassion they espouse. But veganism as a whole has without doubt been brought into disrepute by some of its most vocal members.

I completely understand the anger that vegans feel about people blithely and ignorantly allowing animals to be brutalised and killed just so we can have a certain taste and texture on our plate.

We have no excuse.

But those tastes and textures continue to persuade us to ignore what we know, to carry on along the path of least resistance.

But the anger and self-righteousness and judgmentalism of some vegans continues to drive people away.

The anger and self-righteousness and judgmentalism of some Christians continues to drive people away.

(Do you see what I did there?)

I think I know what the essential problem with Christianity is. It is the over-riding emphasis (at least in Western Christianity) on ‘right belief’ over and above ‘right living’ and ‘right feeling’. It is entirely possible to be a Christian in good standing with the church who claims all the ‘right beliefs’ and have absolutely no change of heart, absolutely no true spiritual experience whatsoever. But as long as the beliefs are in line with the doctrines your denomination emphasises, there is no reason to question the heart or the spirit. It is entirely possible to carry hatred in your heart while claiming to follow the God who is Love.

I think the same thing can be true of veganism.

As long as you maintain a vegan diet, and you are able to feel self-satisfied in that, there is no reason to question yourself, search inwardly, become more compassionate.

But I think I’ve said before that there is no ‘upper limit’ for compassion, kindness, love. All of us can always move forward, become kinder, more compassionate, more understanding, more loving.

In the Bible, a ‘righteous’ man is defined not as the one who never falls, never makes a mistake but rather the man who ‘falls seven times and gets up again’. Proverbs 24:16

This year is probably the first time in maybe 15 years when I haven’t really managed to celebrate Passover/ Easter, count the Omer/ Eastertide or keep Pentecost/ Shavuot (the fact that they are all out of sync this year hasn’t helped). There’s a little voice in my head that wants to condemn me, make me feel guilty and miserable. But I’m not listening to it.

I’m not as observant as I’d like to be right now, but it is what it is – this is the season I’m in, and there’s not much I can do about it. The traditional Passover concludes “Next Year in Jerusalem”. This too shall pass, and perhaps next year I will be where I want to be with my religious observance.

I’m not going to kick myself either about repeatedly failing to be faithful to veganism. Honestly, I may never reach 100% total veganism for ever. But that’s ok. I’m moving towards it, I’ll keep trying.

And actually, as much as I can understand the wish that the whole world go 100% vegan today, every little helps. Small steps save lives.

If I fall down again, I’ll just get up again.

Don’t be discouraged.

Do whatever you can and know that it’s good, and don’t let anybody condemn you because you’re ‘not good enough’, ‘not vegan enough’, ‘not Christian enough’, or whatever.

It’s a cliche, but learning to love and accept and forgive yourself is the first and crucial step towards spiritual growth. And it’s probably the hardest.

But it’s never a wasted effort.

Don’t give up. 🙂

From my heart to yours. xx

 

Trim Healthy Mama?

A few years ago the Trim Healthy Mama diet was recommended to me, so I read the book, and looked at the recipes, but found it too complicated and of questionable scientific basis, and so I never actually tried it.

But the recommendations keep coming, and I see that the diet has become enormously popular in the US, and has a growing following in the UK. I joined the UK THM group on facebook, which is friendly and helpful. (The main American group is enormous and far too high volume for me to keep up with).

One of the things that I find attractive, and one of the reasons it has been recommended to me again and again is that THM is good for keeping your blood sugar levels balanced – something that’s important for everybody, but especially those with a tendency toward insulin sensitivity, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes (and that of course includes women with PCOS who are susceptible to all those things due to the nature of the endocrine disruption that PCOS causes).

So I am investigating Trim Healthy Mama again. I think my book is with most of our other books in storage, which is frustrating. I have no idea when we’ll be in a position to retrieve them. But there is plenty of information on the web, including the facebook groups, if you want to follow the diet without getting the book, or before buying the book, if you decide to.

You might like to start with these:

http://gwens-nest.com/trim-healthy-mama-quick-start-guide/

http://workingathomeschool.com/2014/03/30/freeprintables31daysofthmmeals

The diet is based on the idea of separating carbs and fats, separating your meals, at least three hours apart, into S (for satisfying) meals which include good fats and only very low amounts of carbs, and E (for energising) meals which are based on limited amounts of good carbs and low fat. It is quite an appealing idea. There are also FP (Fuel Pull) meals which limit carbs and fats, and Crossovers. I never did discover what Crossovers are.

But I am not sold on the idea that 3 hours is sufficient for your body to switch from one primary fuel to another. I remember Atkins saying that, since our bodies are used to a carb-based primary fuel, it can take several days before ketosis – fat-burning – starts to kick in.

Another thing that I found in my notebook from when I read the book is a question about a quote the authors made concerning insulin: “Glucagon helps to halt insulin’s stimulation of fat synthesis” Does it?

I’m not sure the way insulin etc is described is quite correct. As I understand it, glucagon is a hormone that tells the liver to dump stored glucose (glycogen) into the blood, which would seem to be the opposite of what they’re saying, which again makes me feel that the authors don’t really know what they’re talking about. But then I’m no expert, despite dealing with Type 1 diabetes for the past three years.

Perhaps somebody more expert in the way of body chemistry can confirm?

On the negative side of THM is their recommendation of what are commonly called ‘frankenfoods’, allegedly natural but really not at all healthy and really rather fake food, processed ingredients such as de-fatted peanut flour, glucomannan, stevia and a bunch of other things.

Here are a couple of articles which question THM:

http://stevenandersonfamily.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/my-review-of-trim-healthy-mama-thm-good.html (the authors of THM are part of the Above Rubies network which is part of the Quiver-Full movement, so I am surprised that they would be promoting stevia if it is really abortifacient but its implication in infertility and miscarriage is something that concerns me.)

http://www.nourishingherbalist.com/4-reasons-why-im-not-a-trim-healthy-mama/

The claim that THM isn’t another fad seems a little bit nonsensical. And also, from a vegetarian point of view, I remember when one of the authors was promoting the raw vegan diet – I still have her book (and video)! There is no obvious accommodation for vegetarians or vegans in this new diet, it is very much meat-based.

So, read the articles, weigh it all up and decide for yourself. I’d be interested to hear from anybody who has tried it and loved it, or tried it and hated it 🙂

Book Review: Neris and India’s Idiot-proof Diet

My unspoken new year’s resolution every year, at least since motherhood, has been to lose weight. But what with 8 pregnancies, ill health and being at home, over the last 5-10 years, my weight has soared to effectively double the weight I should be. That in itself is depressing, and the sheer size of the mountain makes it feel insurmountable. But this year, for a number of reasons, I have realised I need to tackle the problem, for the sake of my health if nothing else. So far’ I have joined Slimming World, but after the initial session, I find I can no longer get there as I am ‘babysitting’ while my husband and car need to be taking eldest son to evening class on the two slimming world nights. Bum. So I am on my own.

I do already have on my bookshelves just about every diet known to man, but this book was recommended to me – not for the diet itself, but rather for the change of thinking it encourages.

The diet itself is based on low carb – a very sane amalgamation of the best ideas from Atkins, South Beach, the GI diet and so on. I have done Atkins before and I know it works, but it didn’t help me personally to learn healthy eating, and needless to say, the weight piled back on. So I won’t follow their diet recommendations  – especially as a vegetarian, low carb just doesn’t suit me, but for people who like their meat and would find carbs easier to give up than fat (which is essentially the other alternative) it is probably a good plan.

image

The advice though, the change in thinking, the honesty, I liked very much, and I will probably re-read and refer to parts of it again and again.

p.s. I wrote this post on an android tablet – I thought I would try it as I was having so much trouble replacing my Blackberry. But I accidentally pressed ‘publish’ before I had finished (I’m not sure I will ever be happy to have a touchscreen to replace a keyboard!), and so now I’m coming back to add tags and categories.

I did just want to mention the fact that I have seen quite a few posts – a friend of mine has retweeted a few on twitter – trying to persuade people that fat is ok. I did start to read ‘Fat is a Feminist Issue’ a few years ago, and I know that women’s relationships to food and their own and others’ bodies are complex issues. I think for people who might have a few extra pounds, it is good advice. Don’t allow society to dictate your shape, and don’t allow people to abuse you or others on the basis if their weight. It’s just not acceptable. Nobody consciously chooses to become unfit and unhealthy. It is a medical issue and sometimes a mental health issue, and to discriminate is wrong and unkind.

However, in this book, Neris and India talk a lot about busting the myth of the ‘happy fatty’. For those of us who have a more serious weight problem, you can’t be fooled into thinking it doesn’t matter or that you can’t do anything. Be brave, take a step towards health. 🙂

Journey continued

I wrote my ‘Journey of Faith’ in 5 parts, and then almost immediately decided to remove them (I may post them back up – I do like to retain my ‘woman’s right to change her mind’).

But I realised that, in a sense, I was only sharing half the story, essentially the physical – which churches I was part of and how I had moved and how my basic beliefs changed over time. But really I think it was the height of arrogance to claim that my faith has ‘survived’ while another’s has not.

The other half, the underlying spirituality, has been and is an ongoing struggle.

Here’s the whole truth of it.

I have moved from fundamentalism to a grace-based understanding, but I am aware that my basic frame of reference is essentially quite Puritanical and it is something I constantly have to battle against. I can’t really have fun without feeling guilty.

I feel as though all my life I have been doing a dance, playing a game, with God as my distant partner, in which God hides just out of reach and out of sight for as long as I seek Him, and when I turn around and decide I have had enough and don’t have the will or energy to pursue Him anymore, He pursues me.

So even if I wanted not to be a believer anymore, God just won’t leave me alone! I can’t not believe. No amount of reason or logic would allow me to be an atheist.

I am a little bit fed up with it all to be quite honest. What exactly does God want of me?

I have been praying for life to get better, for my health to get better, for over ten years, but the answer always seems to be, “Here’s something to make it just a little bit worse.”

I want to help people, I want to do good, I’d like to be in a position where I can do those things. But in the condition I’m in, I’m no good to anyone.

I feel as though I have a permanently melancholy cloud over me. Maybe I’m just feeling particularly melancholy at the moment.

ME: An Alternative View

The following website belongs to a friend of mine, who has an alternative and controversial view on what ME really is:

http://aboutmy.me/

I think that in my case, this probably applies, and I am working on the basis that thyroid and adrenal issues have not been adequately or thoroughly investigated by my doctors.

But I think that the thyroid and adrenal connection is only one part of the puzzle – it doesn’t fit the profiles of the outbreaks of mass ME such as the Royal Free case, in which dozens of patients and nurses came down with the same illness.

But it is definitely an issue that must be properly investigated before ME can be legitimately diagnosed.