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Chronic Pain and Fatigue – More of My Story and a Healthy Diet for Me

22 Nov 13
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Before I even fell ill early this year I knew there was something wrong with me.

My whole life I have suffered from asthma and eczema, and whenever I fell sick it went to my chest and lasted longer than it should. I’ve often been told that even as a young child I had massive bags under my eyes and was always saying I was tired.

In mid 2011, I started reacting badly to the contraceptive pill I was on. It was causing constant breast pain, nausea and dizziness. By late 2011 I had stopped taking the pill and was starting to feel better. I had more energy and less pain, dizziness and nausea.

Then late last year I had a whole month when I was constantly dizzy which made me slightly nauseous. Nothing the doctors suggested worked and it wasn’t until I undertook a challenge at the gym that followed a paleo diet.

I noticed that my asthma, the dizziness and nausea lessened (almost stopped), my eczema vanished and I had more energy than ever before.

When the challenge ended I went back to my doctor, explained what had happened and got a referral to an allergist. Through the testing the allergist did and the elimination diet I undertook with his supervision it was determined that I probably had an allergy to yeast and definitely had an intolerance to gluten and diary.

Photo (c) Megan S, January 2013

Photo (c) Megan S, January 2013

Through experimentation we have determined it is pretty much possible to avoid yeast completely, so I just try to limit it as much as possible. Gluten and dairy are now completely off the menu for me.

If I accidentally eat either gluten or dairy (like I think I did on Wednesday) my rashes flare up, my stomach bloats terribly and my energy and pain levels increase three fold.

I still need to determine if there are any other food items that I react to, E says I’m allergic to everything :-), but at this moment this is enough for me to deal with.

I tend to focus on fresh fruit, veg, nuts, pulses and meat with almond and coconut milk, eggs, rice and the occasional (or not so occasional) gluten and dairy free treat. See below for some examples of the foods I eat.

Photo (c) Megan S, August 2013

Fresh from my garden Photo (c) Megan S, August 2013

My Usual Breakfast Photo (c) Megan S, November 2013

My Usual Breakfast
Photo (c) Megan S, November 2013

Photo (c) Megan S, June 2013

Experimental Apple Cakes
Photo (c) Megan S, June 2013

Banana Pancakes (recipe to follow) Photo (c) Megan S, November 2013

Banana Pancakes (recipe to follow)
Photo (c) Megan S, November 2013

What is your diet like?

Have you found that certain food groups affect your symptoms?

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  1. Trisha November 22, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Corn, gluten, dairy and refined sugar make my symptoms worse, with corn being the worst offender. I recently went into denial about the dairy actually causing symptoms because eating it once in awhile didn’t seem to cause any problem. But now that I’ve eaten it pretty regularly the last week or so, I’m pretty sure dairy increases my brain fog and maybe my pain too. I’m on day 5 of eliminating chocolate to see if it could be causing inflammation. I know it would be better to do a full elimination diet but I don’t have the energy to make separate meals for myself right now. It seems cruel that a person with a chronic illness would also have these food sensitivities because it’s a lot of work to prepare allergen-free food.

    • Megan S November 22, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      I know what you mean! It seems like food intolerances and sensitivities go hand in hand with chronic illness. I’m lucky that E makes most our meals and I’ve found a few easy to make meals (gluten free gnocchi with pre-made (by E) pasta sauce.
      I did the same thing with dairy. Some food sensitivities seem to have an accumulative affect.
      I haven’t tested corn out but o know refined sugar does affect me, I just haven’t tried eliminating it completely yet. I do avoid it as much as possible, and use honey instead as much as possible.
      Have you had any results with the chocolate elimination yet?

      • Trisha November 23, 2013 at 5:17 am

        It’s hard to tell if I’m having any results from the chocolate elimination because I’ve been in the worst flare I’ve had in a long, long time. I’d like to think it’s because my body needs chocolate! 😉 But, in all reality, it’s probably our drastic weather change. We went from fall to winter overnight earlier this week. I’ll keep up the chocolate elimination for another week, then have a chocolate eating binge and see what happens!

        • Megan S November 23, 2013 at 8:05 am

          Sounds like a plan, although I’d probably not binge too much! Let me know how it goes. 🙂

  2. Jeremy November 22, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    I’ve been doing a bit of reading lately about modern diet with regards to increasing my energy levels and decreasing my susceptibility to depression. I can certainly relate to the “brain fog” that you’ve mentioned previously.

    Most of the articles I’ve found have supported the hypothesis that it’s not so much what needs to be eliminated from our diet (although sugar and fructose are right up there) but essential nutrients we aren’t getting enough of: oils and fats. We find eggs are really good and easy ways to achieve this, as are nuts and beans. We still need to work out how to eat fish more regularly. It’s essentially based on the Paleo diet. I find when we eat this way that I have more consistent energy levels throughout the day and feel it keeps the brain fog at bay.

    Here’s one article about fatty acids and CFS:

    • Megan S November 22, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      I should have mentioned that as well 🙂 stupid brain fog! I do think it’s also important to increase fatty acids and essential oils. I definitely love eggs, I take fish oil supplements daily and use coconut oil in cooking and olive and flax oil in dressings.
      Thank you for reminding me of that 🙂

  3. Just Another F-Bomb November 22, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I’ve been gluten intolerant for a number of years, at first I just thought it was an inflammatory issue that caused increased joint pain but I’ve come to realize that it causes all sorts of destruction to my body. I’ve developed a lactose issue over the last 6 months or so. I feel so much better overall if I avoid both. 🙂

    • Megan S November 23, 2013 at 12:50 am

      Yes I definitely feel better if I avoid both. Do you have any good recipes or meals you enjoy?

  4. Toni November 23, 2013 at 9:35 am

    I’m having a horrible time with my diet right now because I’ve been catching infection after infection. I do very well on the Paleo diet when I’m able to cook my own food, though. I really need to do the elimination diet. I suspect dairy is causing me problems. and I know anything with wheat does. Red meat seems to be affecting me, too. I’m actually craving salad and raw vegetables.

    • Megan S November 23, 2013 at 9:37 am

      Sorry to hear you’re having so much trouble at the moment. I have times when I crave salad and raw vegetables as well. I think it’s our bodies way of saying we need them 🙂

  5. NaBloPoMo Wrap Up | my chronic life journey November 30, 2013 at 8:27 am

    […] on special events, managing personal expectations, maintaining relationships, resting, a healthy diet for me, and exercising. I even shared one of my favourite breakfast/dessert recipes and discussed […]

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