Thursday, 30 October 2014

On Guard Essential Oil - doTERRRA's Protective Blend

The first doterra Essential Oil I tried was the On Guard blend. 

At the time, I had been prescribed three separate courses of antibiotics in the five months since my son was born. After my first baby, my daughter, was born I didn't really get sick and when I did I recovered pretty well. However, having an 18 month old in nursery and a newborn baby meant that the sickness bugs just seemed to circle in on us.

The kids got over it pretty quickly, but I seemed to get it last and it would last for twice as long as it had for the kids. My husband seemed to miss all of it (lucky him) and I just went from week to week to week waiting for the next round of bugs to invade. 

Finally things started to be getting better. I'd given up gluten, was mostly eating Paleo and the bugs didn't seem to be making as regular an appearance. I'd even gone back to exercise, trying The Circuit Factory which had made more of a difference to my physical fitness than I had ever though possible. 

Although running outside in 45 degree heat and 80% humidity in the summer in Dubai is apparently a open invitation for the invasion of germs. I lasted about 8 weeks of exercise before I was struck down with bronchitis needing yet another course of antibiotics. 

If I'm completely honest, it was the final course of antibiotics which sent me in search of another answer. I was already subscribed to The Paleo Mama and had seen that she relied heavily on essential oils to support her family's immune systems. 

It seemed massively too good to be true. Something natural, with no side effects, that could support the body and help it to naturally fight off infections. I was also beginning to get concerned about becoming resistant to antibiotics. Four courses in less than six months can't be helping my immune system or my digestive system either. 

So I signed up to Doterra as a "Wellness Advocate". At the time it was merely a way to save 25% on the essential oils, rather than a real plan to actually sell essential oils. On Guard was my first purchase (along with Lemongrass, because my husband likes the smell!). 

As we were living in Dubai, and liquids cannot be imported, I sent the oils to my mum's in the UK. By the time we landed in the UK for a holiday and I got my hands on the oils, I was flagging. Gary had been away with work and I'd only gotten one full nights sleep in the last three weeks due to both kids getting sick and needing antibiotics, and then, obviously, I was struck down too. 

I first applied On Guard to my neck, and quickly regretted it. I have really sensitive skin and the On Guard burned like crazy! I didn't have any coconut oil handy to dilute it, so I settled for putting a drop on each of my big toes every morning after my shower. 

I decided to keep a record of my progress, so you can see the changes over the weeks. 

Two Weeks in:

We've just returned from our holidays in the UK and I'm more shattered than before. My Two year old was so unsettled at being shoved in a travel cot, that she was awake several times a night. Not just awake, screaming like she'd had night terrors. Which woke my six month old who was sharing a room with her for the first time. Which woke both of us up, and we were passing in the corridor, picking up one child after the next and resettling them. 

I was shattered… but not ill. Despite the fact that both of the kids were on antibiotics for a sinus infection and an ear infection respectively. My body was so ready for the two full nights sleep we've had since we got back (my two year old was so happy to be back in her own cot that she refused both her milk and a story and was trying to climb the bars to scramble inside). And still there is no sickness. 

I can't yet decide if it's psychological, if the sickness bugs are just waiting to ambush me all at once, or if On Guard really is as good as it says it is. I'm going to continue to use it (and catch up on my sleep) and we'll see how we get on over the next few weeks/months. 

I'm very excited to try On Guard out on the kids, especially as my two year old is back to nursery tomorrow, but I'll have to wait a little while for the roller ball bottles (We are trying to be good and actually save some money, so I'm only buying oils and the accessories if there is enough room in the household budget). I want to make sure I am properly diluting them for their ages, definitely don't want to be burning their precious skin. 

Four Weeks In:

In short, I'm still not sick. Despite the non sleeping continuing. I suspect my two year old has her final four molars itching to make an appearance, and my six month old is just baffling me. Is it reflux, is it teeth, who can really tell? 

Not even a sniffle. The humidity is still sitting at about 70% in Dubai at the moment and I'm sure that temperatures in the high 30's and low 40's are creating the perfect breeding ground for germs. 

My six month old is a little congested today, so I'm putting in an order for rollerball bottles so I can start using On Guard on the kids. I'd love it to make a difference to them. 

I don't really know what to say. Am I still just being lucky? It seems rather impossible, not to mention completely stupid, to suggest that essential oils are supporting my body so that it is fighting off the viruses that come calling, but I don't really have any other explanation.

Six Weeks In:

I still seem to be doing great. I had a hiccup at about 5 weeks in because I had my flu vaccine and then promptly caught a cold from my six month old. 

Although, usually one of the kids will be sick for about 5 days before I catch anything, but then it hits me hard. This time, I came down with a cold the first day, and it steered clear of my sinuses. It was much milder than usual and I definitely didn't have to take as much paracetamol or decongestant while it lasted. 

It didn't last very long either, about three days. I did increase the On Guard, applying it three times a day rather than once, while I was sick. 

I was a bit limited on the other essential oils I could use to help with it, as most of them are sitting in the UK waiting for my mum to come to visit. I used peppermint as a decongestant, applying it to my chest and then neat over the bridge of my nose. It was incredible, my nose was clear in about 30 seconds from applying it. I could still feel that I wasn't 100% but I could breathe. 

In short, On Guard is an essential oil I'm going to keep and apply daily. I've also decided to start applying it to both of the kids. I decided to go with a very weak dilution first, so I added 6 drops of On Guard to a 10ml glass bottle and then topped it up to the top with fractionated coconut oil. 

I'm pretty excited about using some of doTERRA's other oils and seeing if I have some more success. 

If you are interested in doTERRA essential oils, click here for details on how to get started!

Please join my Facebook group on essential oils and like my Facebook page to be kept up to date on my latest blog posts. 

Please note: Products mentioned in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information on this page are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This website is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, psychological, or psychiatric problem, or a disability that requires medical attention, then you should consult your licensed medical doctor or appropriate health care provider. Always consult your medical doctor regarding your medical care. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Monday, 27 October 2014

A guilt free confession - My kids watch too much TV

I did feel guilty, in the beginning. I read lots of articles on how TV is making children lazy, making them fat, making them have a lower IQ etc etc etc. 

I restricted it. My daughter had tantrums, which I ignored. We had no TV at all for several days, and then it began to creep in again. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat and rinse and repeat. 

Then I got pregnant again and the morning sickness knocked me sideways. At that time we had no help at home, and Gary was working and travelling for work. I spent a lot of time sitting on the bathroom floor (if not being sick, desperately hoping not to be) and lying on the sofa waiting for the spinning to stop. 

I don't think I can really explain the tiredness that comes with pregnancy. It's not your run of the mill tired. The not getting enough sleep, or did a tough workout tired. It's like there is a weight pressing on you and pushing you down. It takes all your strength to fight it, and you have no room for anything else. It's a lethargy, and uselessness. 

I spent a lot of me pregnancies chiding myself for not getting off my fat bottom (and it was hugely fat by that time) and being more productive. I felt guilty every day because I didn't have the energy to do all the things with my daughter that I wanted to, that she deserved. 

And then I came to a realisation. I don't really care. I didn't really care before I got pregnant if I was honest with myself. I tried to do the "right" thing and restrict TV, but I really wasn't that interested. Because if I had been, the TV wouldn't have crept back in. 

My kids do not spend all day in front of the TV, but they do watch TV everyday. Probably too much TV everyday. 

We live in an apartment that is 50 plus stories into the sky. My kids are not allowed on the balconies under any circumstances. So there is no easy outside space access. And there are things I have to do during the day which means the kids have to entertain themselves for brief periods of time. We have to function as a family. My toddler is into anything and everything, and the simplest way to get things done in the fastest time so that we can go and do something more productive, is to put the TV on. 

Otherwise I would spend all day moving her away from things I don't want her to mess with, and then add onto that the time I need to spend looking after my six month old, and the other things would never get done. 

I feel like we are in a good balance. We usually go out of the house both in the morning and the afternoon. We go to playdates, playgroups, soft play, the park, the beach, the pool, nursery, the shops. The kids are on the go all day everyday. 

But that can't be possible all the time. My two year old no longer naps, but my six month old does need time in his cot to nap. My daughter also needs downtime now that she isn't napping, and getting her to sit still is an almost impossible task. She wants to be on the go all day every day, but she just can't do that without a nap or she is a wreck after a week or so. 

So in the early mornings we are at home, same at lunchtime and same again in the early evening before bath time. When you get up at 5am, 9am or 10am seems a long time away. 

The TV is not the only thing in the house. The kids have more toys than I know what to do with and I spend a large amount of time playing with Happyland Figures, threading beads onto shoe laces, doing jigsaws and chasing my daughter around our apartment. I read, on average, ten books a day, not including the bedtime story (in preparation for this post I counted over a two week period). That's in addition to leaving the house and doing other things. 

I feel content that we provide enough activities and toys and stimulation for our kids, so if a bit too much TV is one of our faults, I'm comfortable with that. 

Would I rather be outside, of course, but we live in the desert and in the summer it's 45 degrees with 91% humidity. 

Do I restrict what they watch, of course. Do I fast forward the death scene in the Lion King, of course. Do we have sensory bins, paint, play doh, flash cards, jigsaws and various other "activities", of course. 

Their lives (and my life) is full and complex and is often at breakneck speed in order to fit everything in. A little downtime with the TV is a small but often important part of our day. And I am not going to feel guilty about that anymore. 

For those of you who have also succumbed to the TV, here are our current favourites: 

A bizarre choice, but my daughter is obsessed with 62 West Wallaby Street. A Close Shave is the current favourite, she shouts "Baa" at the TV every time she sees Shaun the Sheep (which is a lot!). Probably not much educational value, but it's great fun watching her sense of humour develop as she gets older. 

There are nowhere near enough episodes of Peppa Pig for me. My daughter is perfectly happy to watch the same ones over and over again, but I can now recite them all in my sleep. So a few new seasons added to iTunes would be greatly appreciated. 

As much as I'm fed up of it, I actually really like this choice for our kids. The content is simple and appropriate and covers various subjects like what a compost heap is, what happens when you go on holiday, why you have a shadow. 

I also really like that for birthdays and Christmas they only get on present each. No huge stashes of presents. I'm hoping it will help me to keep their expectations in check in the future. 

One of my least favourites. It's really strange, not a lot really happens and I don't really get the value of it. Iggle Piggle is the current soft toy of choice in this house as a result, and I'm sick of hearing "yes my name is iggle piggle" over and over again. 

But, it's a nice, quiet show, and not a lot happening can be really useful for winding down at the end of the day. Plus watching my daughter do the full Tombliboo dance during each episode is enough to have me in stitches. 

Another show from the Peppa Pig fold. Avid Peppa Pig fans will recognise most of the voices, they have been repurposed for this show in great number. 

Similar to Peppa Pig in content, so it's an easy choice to add to our collection. 

No surprises that this makes the list, but it is surprising that this is not a favourite. My daughter likes it, but she doesn't often choose it. She likes the singing and Olaf more than anything. 

I really like the way this Disney film deals with death. It is relatively subtle and so for a younger audience it is great, and I don't feel the need to fast forward it. I also think I like it more than my toddler does, and I'm not shy of coaxing her to choose it over some of the others! 

Animals are always a winner in our house, and this is no exception. The elephants and the tiger are received to great applause, and lots of giggling when the snake gets dumped out of a tree. It's really nice from my perspective to see her enjoying films that I loved when I was little. 

This film was one of my biggest reservations. Purely because the fighting and death scenes are pretty full on and there are some pretty scary moments in it, especially if you are only two years old. The way The Lion King has been put together is beautiful and the colours are fantastic at depicting the good versus the bad, which is great for me, not so great for my toddler.

I didn't want nightmares keeping us all awake at night. So I settled for fast forwarding through the sections I don't like, and allowing the rest. It is hugely loved in our house and I'm just praying that the day when she asks why I'm skipping bits out doesn't come for a while.


This is my very new discovery, and I have to say, I'm absolutely loving it. The BBC has done itself a great service with this little gem. Again it's completely age appropriate and non scary. It very carefully deals with topics that are relevant to anyone who has a child who has hit the tantrum stage. 

For example, in one episode Bing buys a present for his friend, but then decides he rather likes the present and wants to keep it. The episode works through his feelings and the most appropriate way to deal with them - with the help of a random creature called Flop. 

It is really well done and I am adopting the phrase "there are two of you and only one of [insert object here], so what happens now", with the answer being "we take turns". 

I'm also learning a lot from it myself, particularly the patient and calm way that Flop deals with the toddler tantrum issues and resolves the situation in a quiet way. I could definitely take some pointers from Flop on my parenting skills. 

So what is the poison of choice in your household? How do you allocate TV time (or not) and do you feel guilty about it? 

What Katy Said

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Recipe Index - Paleo Bread from Elanas Pantry

Mmmmmmm bread! 

There is just something irresistible about the smell of freshly baked bread. It's similar to the small of bacon. It has that homely, warming smell. Maybe that's why I like bacon sandwiches so much! 

But bread is the one thing that is not really compatible with a Paleo lifestyle. Wheat bread is definitely off the list, whether you are eating Paleo or gluten free. So I spend most of my mornings craving toast while making my omelette. 

Until now, when I've found a good substitute to toast in Elena's Pantry's Paleo Bread.

I find almond flour recipes make the bread a little too sweet for me to use it as a replacement for my bacon sandwich bread (the search continues) but as toast it is just amazing. 

As always, if you are looking for an exact replica of wheat flour bread, you won't find it. Especially if you are trying to match texture, flavour, consistency, colour and smell. It's just too much to ask. It's not wheat flour bread, so it's not going to taste exactly like it. But it's a great alternative, and it's so easy to make, even I didn't screw it up! 

So if you are venturing into a Paleo or even gluten free diet, give it a try, it's well worth it. 

Paleo Bread

  1. Place almond flour, coconut flour, flax, salt and baking soda in a food processor
  2. Pulse ingredients together
  3. Pulse in eggs, oil, honey and vinegar
  4. Transfer batter to a greased 7.5 x 3.5 loaf pan
  5. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes
  6. Cool in the pan for 2 hours
  7. Serve
* If you do not use the recommended size loaf pan, your bread will not be the proper height.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Enigma of "Having it all"

I think in all of the hustle and bustle of modern life, and the dreadful political correctness that has infiltrated our lives, something has been missed. 

Reality seems to have been forgotten in an attempt to make sure we don't offend anyone, for fear of being accused sexist or old fashioned or out of touch with the times. 

Little girls are now not only being told that they can do anything (which should continue) but that they can do everything. And there lies the problem. 

You cannot have it all. There are only so many hours in the day and unless Hermione Granger cares to share her time turner, we can't double up on those hours and make them more productive. 

We seem to have lost the balance. When my mum was at school her career options were presented as:

  • Teacher
  • Nurse
That's it. Two options for a bright and intelligent woman who could have done anything at all that she wanted. 

The reason that those two options were the only ones really presented was both down to gender stereotypes at the time, but also because the women were the ones raising their children. 

They were the ones who were sacrificing their careers in order to stay at home with their children, or reduce their hours. It was the mothers who would leave work to go and pick up their sick children from school, both because it was seen to be their "job" and because it was very likely that her husband earned more than she did given the inequality in pay between the genders. 

And yet, as we have tried to make that right, we've somehow managed to make it wrong again. We've swung the balance too far and it's now teetering on a knife edge, so close to falling off altogether. 

 Now women are expected to have a career, or at the very least a job. They are expected to be mothers and wives and daughters and friends and colleagues all at the same time. 

That's only fair, right? After all, men have been doing it all for years, haven't they? They have been fathers and husbands and sons and friends and colleagues too. 

Well, yes and no. Because unfortunately childhood does not fit into a convenient little package, and it cannot fit into an adult world with only a few minor changes. 

Women still have to carry and give birth to a baby. There is no escaping those extremely long nine months, not to mention the recovery period afterwards. Men have still not worked out how to conceive and carry a child, so that responsibility cannot be shared. 

It is still, more often than not, the woman who takes maternity leave during the early months of their child's life. The woman whose career gets put on hold until she is ready to return to work, or more often, when the funds run out and she has to go back to work to make sure the mortgage gets paid.

Just because discrimination is illegal in the UK, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Many employers won't hire women of "child bearing age" because it's likely that they are going to be taking some time out on maternity leave on at least one occasion. Just because they can't say it outright doesn't mean that they aren't thinking about it, or that it doesn't happen. 

Then if your child gets sick, who is it who leaves work to go and pick up their child from school or nursery or the childminder. Statistically it is usually the mother. Another blow against her career credentials, dropping her work at a moments notice and rushing off to pick up a child who has just vomited all over the classroom. 

But someone has to. Someone has to assume the role of "primary caregiver". I hate that label, but there isn't a better one. Someone has to put their career on the back burner so that they can jump if their child needs them. A child won't just get on with their day when they are sick. They don't want to go to school with the flu (and neither should you, but that's another debate), they want to curl up on the sofa with one of their parents. And it's probably going to be mummy. 

In our rush to encourage women that they can become doctors, CEO's, astrophysicists and any number of jobs that, fifty years ago, would have solely been the domain of men, we've forgotten about a woman's choice. 

Stay At Home Mum is not exactly presented as a career choice by careers officers. Motherhood now seems to be something we are expected to do alongside a career, not as a career.  

And because of that mentality, so many women do not have a choice. They already have bills that require two salaries, because the expectation is that women work. So they can't make the choice to stay at home with their children, because they cannot afford it. 

I'm not for a moment suggesting that all women secretly harbour a desire to be a stay at home mum, but many do. Having to juggle so many responsibilities is exhausting. 

Just as exhausting is trying to figure out exactly what you really want. I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mum, which had I been left to my own devices, I would not have been able to make that choice. 

Before we moved to the Middle East, we were looking at houses. Houses that would exhaust both of our mortgage allowances. My mum cautioned me and said that I might not want to return to work once I had children, and so not to rely too heavily on my salary when looking at houses. 

I ignored her. I was convinced that I would want to return to work. I loved my job and I didn't want to give it up. Had life not worked out the way it did, I would have been regretting ignoring her advice now. 

Because I want to be at home with my children. I want to take them to school every morning and pick them up every afternoon. I want to be the mother who makes them sit at the dining room table and do their homework every night. 

Being at home with my kids has required a huge adjustment period. It's not an easy choice by an stretch of the imagination. I've had to really concentrate on what I want and what I'm letting go of. It's not an easy road but it's the right one for me and my family. 

Moving to the Middle East with my husband's job meant I had no job. So the home we rent is rented on his salary. We live on his salary. We have never had two salaries since I fell pregnant with my two year old. So we don't need it or miss it. I'm still thankful for what life has given us, as it's given us real choice. 

Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to go back to work. Nothing wrong with wanting something for yourself. We all need to carve out our own niche in this life. If you are given the choices, you will make the choices that make you the best mother you can be. Whether that be a working mum or a stay at home mum, or a mixture of the two. 

I just feel that sometimes equality has pushed things a little bit too far, leaving mothers with little to no choice over how much time they get to spend with their children. 

How do you find your balance? 

The Dad Network
Life with Baby Kicks

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The 21st Century Life - Waste not want not?

Does anyone else feel like they are absolutely drowning in stuff?

We live in an apartment which should have more than enough space for two adults and two kids, and yet everyday I open drawers and cupboards and wish for more space for the stuff that is cluttering up our home.

It's only when I start to actually look at what is inside the cupboards, that I realise that the problem isn't anything to do with not having enough storage space (except the kitchen, the kitchen is tiny!), but the problem is that we just have more stuff than we can possibly need.

I am usually pretty good at going through my clothes and sorting out anything I haven't worn in the past year and either selling it on, or giving it to charity. This has slipped in the past couple of years and I can now count no less than 17 dresses in my wardrobe. Not 17 dresses i.e. day dresses and going out dresses, 17 very dressy date night type dresses. Guest at a wedding type dresses.

SEVENTEEN! That is more than a little ridiculous. Especially because we are no longer the carefree childless couple that randomly decided to dress out and go out on a Tuesday night. Life has changed, our priorities have changed, but my wardrobe still hasn't caught up.

My husband is worse. I regularly offend him by calling him a Hobbit. Not because he is three feet tall and spends all day eating cake and meat and potatoes, but because he hoards stuff. Clothes mostly, but anything if you give him a chance.

For those of you not familiar with the Hobbit, and in particular one called Bilbo Baggins, you can catch him here, either in book form, or on DVD.

We had to move countries twice before he decided that the twenty or so mismatched glasses (that were once part of a nice set) were taking up valuable space and I could get rid of them, especially as we had already bought or been gifted a completely new set of glasses to more than adequately replace them.

He has four stacks of t-shirts in his wardrobe. Stacks so high that they are in danger of toppling over. I would hazard a guess that the bottom 1/4 of each of those piles haven't even been touch since we moved in here over two years ago. I know that because they are still neatly folded and in exactly the same order I carefully placed them in when I unpacked our clothes.

It would seem from what I've said so far that Gary hoards more stuff than I do.... which is actually untrue. It's just that my hoarding seems so far to have gone unnoticed.

My secret stash, it's cosmetics. I am literally incapable of going into Boots without buying so many products that I do not need. I am actually disgraced to say that I have no less than 8 bottles of perfume sitting in my drawer waiting to be used.

I don't think I purchased any of them, but I certainly asked for them. They were on Christmas lists and birthday lists. I even have a perfume I bought specifically for my wedding day, so that every time I wear it I remember that day. One of them is almost eight years old, as Gary bought it for me the first Christmas we were together. One is even older. I haven't worn Cool Water by Davidoff since I was about 18, and it is still half full.

I have three mascaras sitting in my make up bag. All different brands, and all almost full. I keep discovering eyeshadows when I am hunting in drawers for other things. I can't even remember the last time I wore eyeshadow. With two kids to get to bed, I'm lucky to get on a decent lick of eyeliner before it's time for my rarely experienced nights out, whether with or without Gary.

The kids are just the same, but the responsibility for that lies firmly at our door. They have more clothes than a rather large mall. You'd think I had five children in this house, not just two. I don't even want to think about the toys, which I have managed to put in boxes and store in the wardrobes, just getting out one or two each day. The toys that go practically unnoticed when there is a stick, or a balloon, or even some bubbles to occupy them.

So I have set myself a task. I am not allowed to buy anything (especially cosmetics) until I have had a proper search through my various drawers and made absolutely sure that I do not already have one hiding in plain sight.

My going out wardrobe is going to be depleted to ten dresses (and even then I'm being rather overgenerous). Those shoes that I haven't been able to get my feet into since I had my two years old (no one told me that feet do not go back to where they were before no matter how much weight you lose) are to go too.

We are going to draw up a list of exactly what clothes the kids need for the next size up, and then when we do our bulk internet order (which we do twice a year) we won't duplicate things  that we already have, or buy too many nice dresses when our daughter just wants to scramble around at soft play and dig in the park.

I'm hoping that a decluttered house will have a positive effect on the whole family, when we aren't stepping over or digging through things to get to what we want and need.

What do you hoard and how do you intend to reign yourself in? 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Recipe Index: Paleo Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookes

First of all, a little confession. I am not a baker/chef. I can follow instructions, but when it comes to adapting recipes, I'm completely lost. 

So rather than spend far too many fruitless hours in the kitchen trying to create something worth eating, I've decided to bring you the tried and tested (and regularly sampled by yours truly) recipes from the internet that I absolutely love. 

So that should you attempt them, you have a rather good chance of getting something amazing to eat! 

My favourite Paleo cookies have so far been these gorgeous chocolate chip cookies from Against All Grain. I've repeated the recipe here for convenience, but if you are looking to take a step into a Paleo diet, you need to have a look at Danielle Walker's site, it is full to bursting with delicious recipes, and I have so many more I'm itching to try! 

Danielle Walker also has two fabulous books out! I have the first one "Against All Grain" and I'm waiting for the second one, "Meals Made Simple" to be released as a Kindle version.

Real-Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies

AUTHOR: Danielle Walker -
SERVES: 1 dozen



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor, cream the palm shortening, coconut sugar, honey, egg, and vanilla for about 15 seconds until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Add the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt and mix again until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed in order to incorporate all of the flour. Pulse once or twice more.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
  5. Place golf-ball sized balls of dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a SilPat. Using another sheet of parchment on top of the dough, flatten them slightly with the palm or your hand or a spatula. The cookies don’t spread much so create the size and thickness you want prior to baking them.
  6. Bake for 9-12 minutes, until slightly golden around the edges.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

From Clean Eating to Gluten Free and Paleo ish

So I'm eating clean, I'm exercising my not so little bum off, and I'm feeling much much better....

Except for the brain fog. The immense cloud of fog that is simmering about in my head and bouncing into my skull. 

For those of you who don't have an autoimmune disease, I'm hoping you have never had this feeling. It's like my head has been stuffed with cotton wool and no amount of shaking will dislodge it. 

It affects my ability to think clearly. Quite often I have abandoned a task because it is just too exhausting to try to think around the fog. 

I am a little bit OCD about being organised. I'm mortified if I forget to send a birthday card. The brain fog plays havoc with my organisational skills, which is more than a little stressful for me. 

So, why, when I appeared to do everything right, did I still have some of those pesky thyroid symptoms. 

Unfortunately, once you develop one autoimmune disease, you are on the hit list for more (because one clearly is not enough for anyone). What you take into your body, in all forms, suddenly becomes even more complicated in the modern world of processed convenience food. 

For example, if you have celiac disease you are 4.4 times more likely to develop an under active thyroid than the general population. 
(Risk of thyroid disease in individuals with celiac disease. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008)

As I have said in a previous post, my thyroid condition is autoimmune. So the blood levels of thyroid antibodies sits at around 300, despite the normal range being 0-60. 

People who have celiac disease also have raised levels of thyroid antibodies in their blood. Even if they do not have issues with their thyroid. 
(Naiyer AJ, Shah J, Hernandez L, et al. Tissue transglutaminase antibodies in individuals with celiac disease bind to thyroid follicles and extracellular matrix and may contribute to thyroid dysfunction. Thyroid. 2008;18(11):1171-1178.)

When people who are diagnosed with celiac disease go onto a gluten free diet, their thyroid antibody levels return to normal, alongside the celiac related antibodies. 
(Ventura A, Neri E, Ughi C, et al. Gluten-dependent diabetes-related and thyroid-related autoantibodies in patients with celiac disease. J Pediat. 2000;137(2):263-265.)

The levels of thyroid antibodies seem to normalise after 12-18 months on a gluten free diet. 
Cassio A, Ricci G, Baronio F, et al. Long-term clinical significance of thyroid autoimmunity in children with celiac disease. J Pediat. 2010;156(2):292-295.

I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid problem for almost a decade, and yet not one person has ever suggested I reduce my intake of gluten. It has been my own research on a clean eating diet that lead me to suggestions that cutting out gluten could assist my thyroid function. 

So I am moving towards a gluten free diet. I have been falling off the wagon often. Going out for afternoon tea is a favourite pastime of mine, and it's a hard habit to break, but I'm working on it. 

It will be really interesting to see how my thyroid antibodies have changed in a year or so. It would be fabulous if I can stick to a gluten free diet and if it really does make a difference to my blood levels. 

Although, having been working towards gluten free for the past two months, I have also stumbled onto the paleo diet. 

The Paleo Diet is lifestyle change so that you are eating foods that are much closer to the foods our ancestors ate when they were hunter gathers. So long before processed foods were even thought of. 

Is short, the foods you can eat are:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Meat - preferably lean meat
  • Seafood
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Healthy fats such as olive oil and coconut oil 
And the foods to avoid are:

  • Grains - particularly wheat but also includes rice
  • Processed foods and sugars
  • Starches like white potatoes.
  • Dairy
  • Legumes - such as lentils and beans
  • Alcohol

The Paleo Diet is supposed to be fantastic at supporting the body, particularly for those who have autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and thyroid disease. 

It is, of course, a much stricter diet that clean eating or gluten free. But it claims to have a real impact on those who suffer from autoimmune diseases. 

So I have decided to try to move towards a more Paleo diet than a gluten free one. It is one step further down the road of a strict diet, and it's a lifestyle change not a quick fix. But, if it really can provide me with a better standard of health, I'd be foolish not to try it. 

There are a lot of changes to make in becoming Paleo, and I don't think an immediate switch is going to be sustainable. I think I'm going to start incorporating Paleo into my diet and slowly phase out the non Paleo foods. 

I had no idea when I started an exercise class that it would have such a dramatic change on my lifestyle and on my thought processes. It's amazing what one change can do for your whole life.