My Free From Journey #GlutenFree #Nutritional #Health

My Free-From Journey
Healthy EatingI’ve spoken several times on my blog about my recent health issues, in particular, the rather nasty autoimmune disorder which left me with a long list of aggressive symptoms and pain, and caused my anxiety and depression to spiral out of control.
It’s been a rough few years, but when I was creating my Vision Board earlier this year, one goal jumped out at me – to achieve a strong body and mind.
I knew I couldn’t go on feeling so drained, low, and in constant pain, so I decided it was time to do something about it. My GP had written me off with a ‘we may never know what caused it’ and the neurologist reached a similar conclusion following many MRIs, a lumbar puncture, and too many blood tests to remember.
Following a wonderful personal development day I attended in January organised by the Socially Shared Business Support Network, I listened to nutritional therapist, Andrea Bayles talk about the benefits of nutrition for the body and mind. Could this be the answer?
I booked an appointment to see Andrea and received more support and compassion in that ninety-minute session than at three years’ worth of hospital and doctor visits. We worked out a plan of action, talked about how I could engage the right mind-set for what I was about to embark on, and the appropriate self-care procedures I could put in place.
Starting the elimination regime was horrific – I blogged about it HERE – but once the initial detox was over I began to see startling results. Who knew Kale was so tasty!
My energy levels have increased to almost the same level they were before my illness. Although I’ve had a couple of ‘black fog’ moments, they’ve only lasted a couple of days instead of weeks, and I’ve been able to go about my day rather than climb back under the duvet and admit defeat. Andrea warned me that as a side effect I might lose weight (I’m not complaining!!). So far I’ve lost nearly two stone in weight (12kg). My body is starting to change shape as the inches melt away, and I’m beginning to feel stronger.
With the addition of specifically tailored food supplements, I’ve been able to considerably change the levels of pain and discomfort in my legs as the inflammation is controlled.
Peppermint TeaIt’s a slow process – four weeks on the elimination plan and then several weeks re-introducing certain food groups. The interesting thing to note is how I haven’t missed anything in the way of junk food or snacks, and I’ve grown incredibly fond of peppermint tea. During this process, I’ve been out for meals with friends and family and survived Easter without the need to shove my face full of chocolate.
At restaurants, I’ve opted for a grilled chicken breast and house salad ensuring I stayed on plan. To combat the temptation of chocolate Easter eggs, I made myself some healthy flapjacks using nuts, seeds, and natural honey. I’m not sure I’d cope with manufactured chocolate now as I’d probably find it too sweet.
My entire lifestyle has changed, but I’ve embraced every second of it with determination, and motivation. I have my end goal in sight –strong body and mind.
I started writing this blog back in 2013 as a way to hold myself accountable for the challenges I set myself at that time. I’m taking inspiration from those humble beginnings and staring a new feature. My Free-From Journey is where I’ll share updates, recipe suggestions, cookbook reviews, restaurant reviews, articles and interesting facts about going gluten-free and cutting down on sugar – I’m counting on your help to keep me accountable to this new healthy lifestyle!
I hope you enjoy the posts I share for this feature and I’d love you to get in touch with your own free-from stories whether that’s gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, sugar-free or any other free-from nutritional lifestyle plan.
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  1. I’m going to be really interested to hear about your journey. As you know, I suffer from a lot of chronic pain, so I shall be looking forward to reading more x

    1. The pains in my hips and legs are slowly reducing. Fingers crossed I can achieve a pain free life if I keep following the plan. Your comment is the exact reason why I wanted to start this feature as the more people I speak to about it the more I realise how many people suffer in silence x

      1. Oh good. Fingers crossed for you that they disappear altogether. God that would make such a difference to me too. So glad you’re doing these posts (and the plan!) x

  2. Oh Shelley, I am so glad you have seen the difference in your body after all this!
    Keep it up! I know a lot of people will be interested to follow your journey!

  3. Hiya Shelley, this post resonates with me and reading it has inspired me to start a similar journey. Today I am blitzing my fridge & cupboards to remove “toxic” foods before shopping for healthy alternatives. Similarly I have ME plus another unknown autoimmune illness which causes lupus like rashes, yet am negative for Lupus. I am going to hospital early May for 40 allergy patch tests to see if a as yet unknown allergy has thrown my immune system. I have heard low sugar is beneficial for autoimmune conditions and so I am planning to go low sugar and avoid processed foods in my diet whilst waiting for patch test results. Then will continue with any further diet tweaks when necessary once test results are in. Similarly to you, although I have been told I definitely have ME & large joint hypermobility it is though further autoimmune issues are hitting me & your post has given me hope that I can turn things around and regain control over my body with hopes to walk my dogs once more xx???? Any tips you can offer re diet would be hugely appreciated ~ thank you xx

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I know from reading your blog how much pain and discomfort you have been in. If I’m honest with myself I know my diet was loaded with nasty chemicals so it’s no surprise that I’m seeing benefits by omitting it from my diet. The detox process was awful and I definitely don’t want to go through that again, but years of processed foods and high sugar did so much damage. I’m still in pain but it’s on another level to how it has been. I’m going to be doing a few ‘what I eat in a day’ posts that might help you but I’d be more than happy to message you directly with some top tips in the meantime. You’ve started off the right way. Before I started my elimination plan I had to get my head in the zone so clearing out the cupboards and fridge was step one. Step two was making sure I had the right ingredients in the house so I could cook the recipes my nutritionist gave me – I’ve never eaten so much kale and spinach haha. I haven’t done allergy patch tests but by eliminating all the suspect foods for a month it becomes very clear when you do reintroduce – I had a very bad reaction to a sandwich!! Thanks for commenting and I hope you find answers too xx

    1. It’s incredible how different your energy levels can be isn’t it! I always thought I was shattered but capable of carrying on. Since I’ve started to get better I now realise I was running on empty!

  4. I’m so happy to hear that you’re on the mend. It’s amazing how good food can make you feel, and consequently, how bad it can make you feel too. It took me nearly three years to recover after my Celiac diagnosis – three years of pain, nausea, and brain fog. But, like you, I’m finally feeling like myself again. I’m so happy to hear that you are too! xx

  5. I’ll be very interested in your daily diet Shelley. I’m currently on the paleo diet (about 2 weeks) but not sure if I’ll stick it much longer. It’s more or less gluten free. I feel hungry a lot. At the weekend I felt awful weak and jittery. Had a big bowl of museli yesterday and today for breakfast! I’m down to one coffee and one tea a day. No crap. My palpatations are so bad since Sunday, I’m paranoid I’m having a heart attack. I was so down this evening I ate a big bowl of rice krispies! ????
    I must be doing something wrong!
    I’ll be following!

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that, Gloria. I haven’t been hungry once on this plan, in fact, I’ve skipped a few snack options because I was still full. Museli and Rice Krispies are full of sugar (unless you’ve made your own version) so you could be feeling the effects of withdrawal? I’m only speculating here but it was my first thought. I’m going to do a daily first post and include a few recipes too as quite a few people are interested in what I’ve been eating. It’s also worth noting that I’ve been working closely with a qualified nutritionist so we’ve closely monitored diet and reactions. Sending big hugs ???? xx

      1. I thought that because of consuming so little carbs with the paleo diet that my blood sugar may be too low… I went back to having museli (no added sugar although I know it still contains some) So frustrating! Thanks for your reply Shelley. Looking forward to reading about your progress!

  6. OMG, Literally got told by my Doctor yesterday to go Gluten Free and I stumble across this today – I’m so thankful as I haven’t got a clue where to start xxx

    1. Meant to be!! It’s been easier to integrate than I ever thought possible. I’m going to be sharing a few meal planning ideas so watch this space! Welcome to the GF club ????

      1. I’m so relieved to find a friendly source of information instead of trying to wade through baffling medical documents, which are so confusing (to me)

  7. I am really interested in following your journey too, Shelley. I am so glad that your new regime is helping you with feel so much better as well as giving you back some energy. Good luck, I am cheering you on! 🙂

  8. Oh, and if you are interested, I would love it if you would like to pin some of your healthy eating recipes on my Pinterest board, I will send you an invitation (no pressure)! 🙂

  9. This is great news Shelley so pleased you can see an improvement …I have long been an advocate of let food be thy medicine and if need be alongside conventional medicine but I do believe diet is a major factor in a persons health and well being …Very well done 🙂

  10. I am a huge fruit and mint tea fan but could change so much more. I found your post so inspiring. I am figured you are finding a way out of the tough times- I am sure nutrition awareness could change us all so much.

    1. That’s so true! The low fat/pasta/rice mindset that was drilled into us years ago as a healthy lifestyle has caused so much illness and obesity. Definitely time for a change! ????

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