Having a hidden illness can be quite challenging at times. On the surface, everything may look just fine. But on the inside there is so much turmoil that is going on. Maybe you are good at putting on that happy face and getting through the day, making it hard for others to see that you truly are struggling. I have dealt with a few different "hidden illnesses" like anxiety, depression, and lyme disease. Here are a few things I wish others understood about these "hidden illnesses".
1."You don't look sick" - So many times it is assumed that we are faking our illness, just because it can't be seen. I have even been told, "you're faking it" straight to my face. Just because I don't constantly complain and tell you everything that is happening inside my body, doesn't mean that it isn't real. Just because you can't see it on the outside doesn't mean all is well.
2. Guilt - This is a big one. Guilt for not being able to do as much at home, at work, etc. Guilt for not having the energy that is expected. Guilt for not being able to 100% be there for your partner. Guilt for sucking all of the finances for your treatments. The list goes on and it can really wear on you if you let it. It can easily be a constant feeling of "I'm not enough".
3. Fatigue - Wearing out easily, needing a nap in the afternoon, needing a solid 8 hours of sleep to be able to fully function the next day..our society today really doesn't work that way, which makes it hard when it's something you are facing. You are seen as lazy and no good.
4.Special dietary needs - Just because I look like I'm healthy doesn't mean I can eat anything I want. So many people are surprised when they hear that I have a special diet. They often say, "you don't need to be on a diet." Well, yes, I do! Being conscious of what I put into my body plays a huge part in how well I do (or don't) handle things. I've also had it held against me that I can't eat everything that everyone else eats. Not because I complain. In fact, I often tell people not to worry about me. I'm pretty good at fending for myself and making sure I haven something I can eat. I never expect others to cater to me.
5. Unexpected pain - I can't tell you the number of times I have asked someone to lighten up their grip while holding my hand. Often times it's seen as me being a wimp and as someone who has a low pain tolerance. This is one of the things that upsets me the most. If people only understood the amount of pain I have on a daily basis, from head to toe, they would understand that simple things hurt. But it's not because of a low pain tolerance. I like to explain it like this: if you are in such pain that something so simple hurts and it's that simple thing that pushes you over the edge, doesn't it make sense to control the one little thing you can by asking them to loosen their grip? It's kind of like that piece of hay that broke the camels back.
6. Brain Fog is real. You may tell me something and I may seem to comprehend. But that doesn't mean that 5 minutes later I will fully grasp what just happened. Being in the kitchen and making a meal that should be simple, is also often complicated because I forget that I had butter on the stove to melt so that I can saute some onions. Then suddenly there's smoke on the stove and I remember what I was supposed to be doing. The struggle is real!
7. "You should be doing more" - This one kind of ties in a few of the ones I mentioned above. I often feel that people think I'm not doing enough. After all, I am a stay-at-home mom. Shouldn't I have all the time in the world? And on another note, since I have all this supposed time, why don't I go out and get a job and help with the finances? Didn't I just say that I feel guilty for sucking all the money to help with my treatments? And since I "appear" to be healthy, then I should just go out and get a real job...right? The truth is that no one knows that someone else is going through. Often times, even when it's the same illness, everyone handles it differently. So offer grace. Just because you do not understand that doesn't mean it isn't true for the one going through it.
So, to sum it up:
I look like I'm fine. If I don't tell you I'm having a bad day, you may assume all is well. What I'm not saying is this:
I'm in constant pain from head to toe.
I'm always tired.
It takes me at least twice (sometimes three) times a long to do a simple task as it should.
Things often don't register in my head like they should. So it may seem simple but it isn't.
I'm not saying all of this to complain or for sympathy. I just want to be a voice for the loved one in your life who may be dealing with some of these things. Yes, some take things to the extreme and maybe could do more. But if someone appears to be doing just fine, but you know they have an illness/condition they are dealing with, maybe give them a little grace and offer a helping hand when you can.
We all have trials in life. God never told us this life would be easy. But if God can offer grace to a sinner, then why can we not offer grace to each other when we are going through different trials in life?
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." John 13:34
It’s no secret that antioxidants are incredibly beneficial to good health. It’s believed the antioxidants in food can help prevent cancer, reverse or slow aging, enhance your immune system (which we could all use this time of year!), increase your energy and improve heart and other organ health.
With all the information we have about antioxidants and their benefits, it’s amazing that more people don’t get enough in their daily diets. It is recommend to have at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, but to really pack a punch getting 7-10 servings is best.
Here are 10 ways you can get more antioxidants into your diet.
Breakfast doesn’t have to be a hurried pop tart on the way out the door. Try throwing some fruit, 100% juice and yogurt into a blender for a delicious smoothie. Then pour your smoothie into a cup and sip on it as you go. This can add one to three servings of fruits to your daily intake. Or add some berries into your cold or hot cereal.
If you are making a stop to grab something on the run, try ordering a fruit and yogurt parfait or a fruit cup.
How about a handful of raisins for a snack, or some fresh red grapes? Or dip some strawberries in yogurt. The berries will provide the color you’re looking for. Remember to eat the colors of the rainbow!
Need crunch? How about some baby carrots dipped in hummus? Or have a handful of pecans for crunch and a nice antioxidant boost.
3.Lunch and dinner
Adding a salad to each of your main daily meals can add loads to your overall health and well-being. They don’t have to be boring and they don’t have to be just salad greens. If you’re going classic, add some red pepper slices to your green salad, some tomatoes to the Greek salad, or tart cranberries to your field greens. Whip up a broccoli or carrot salad for lunch, or be adventurous and mix up a rice salad with some fresh vegetables like string beans, tomatoes, peppers and red onions.
Berries, with or without whipped cream or chocolate are a wonderful way to end your day with a healthy, antioxidant-rich treat.
Replace your soft drink with tea or coffee, both of which boast antioxidant compounds. Or for a real change of pace, pour a glass of chai tea.
6.Think outside the box
Did you know that powerful antioxidants can also be found in a variety of other foods like russet potatoes, artichokes, and small red beans. The beans, in fact, may have more antioxidant power than blueberries. So try adding some beans to your rice bowl full of vegetables for even more antioxidants.
You think you’re on the right track by preparing vegetables each night for your family’s dinner. But if you’re overcooking the vegetables, you’re cooking out a lot of the beneficial properties of the antioxidants. Steam (don’t boil) vegetables and stop cooking them when they have all of their bright color and most of their bite.
8.Plant a garden
People who plant and harvest vegetables from their own gardens are far more likely to eat more vegetables and fruits than those who buy their produce from the store. So plant a garden, watch it grow and eat the fruits (literally) of your labor. (Check out the link below for info on how you can grow some amazing produce from inside your home, year round!)
9.Take your healthy diet on vacation
We often consider going on vacation an opportunity to take a vacation from everything, including healthy eating. Instead, use vacation as a way to be introduced to new foods. Order an interesting vegetable dish in a restaurant and maybe even find a new favorite dish to add to your menu at home.
10.Learn to cook
If you’re cooking, you’re not opening bags and boxes. Cooking involves scrubbing and peeling vegetables, preparing whole foods and paying attention to how things are cooked. If you’re ordering out every night, you’re far less likely to be eating the whole foods and natural fruits and vegetables that provide the base for your antioxidant intake.
Following these 10 steps can help set you up for great success in adding all of those amazing God-given antioxidant rich foods to your diet.
Want to be able to grow your own food year round? Check out this tower garden. I absolutely LOVE mine!
I decided to do an anti-inflammation diet that is meant to help my body fight and repair from the lyme disease. I thought I'd put together my daily menu for the first week and share it here. I know a lot of my time in prepping was used just in planning the meals and in the kitchen getting things ready. But, by the end of it all, I hope to have some good recipes to share and some helpful kitchen tips to help speed things up so that you don't spend half of the day cooking and cleaning up the kitchen!
The diet is based off the book: Recipes for Repair by Gail Piazza and Lauren Piazza (the link is for a downloadable version since the print version is no longer available). They also have a corresponding website with some extra info. You can find it here.
Breakfast: Brown Rice Porridge
Lunch: Deviled Eggs & Carrot Salad
Snack: Almond Crackers
Supper: Veggie Soup & Biscotti
Breakfast: Brown Rice Porridge
Lunch: Spinach & Egg
Supper: Moroccan Spiced Salmon with Rice & Asparagus
I went to bed with a migraine. I had an eye doctor appointment and my RX was slightly changed. So some of it could be due to that. But I believe it is mostly due to detox.
Breakfast: Chia Pudding
Lunch: Cinnamon Applesauce, Cucumber
Snack: Cherries, & Blueberries
Supper: Stir-Fried Rice and Veggies
I had a headache all day and was achy. Very foggy-headed.
Breakfast: Spinach & Egg
Snack: Avacado, Blueberry, Kale Smoothie
Supper: Mackerel Cakes, Brown Rice, Roasted Brussel Sprouts & Carrots
Woke up very achy with a lot of back/neck pain. Still have a light headache.
Breakfast: Spinich & Egg, Apple Sauce
Supper: Carrot Salad, Apple Sauce, Carrots, Celery
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs & Fruit
Supper: Almond Crusted Tilapia, Okra, Wild Rice
Breakfast: Chia Pudding
Supper: Left Overs
Obviously I didn't take notes of all of the things I ate. But this is a pretty good run down of how my week looked. I tried to have a few snacky foods available at all times, like nuts, green apples, cherries, blueberries, and dried coconut. I also made herbal tea with allowed herbs for the times I wanted a hot drink (since I can't have coffee until Phase 3).
As a whole I'd say it went well. I dealt with a lot of brain fog and fatigue, as well as headaches due to the detox. Thankfully this was all short lived. I will say that I was definitely looking forward to adding new foods in Phase 2! But the meals were pretty good and since it was only 1 week, it was very doable.
Now on to Phase 2!
It's getting pretty hot here. Summer has definitely arrived! But I'm not going to let that stop me from soaking up the sunshine, in more ways than one!
Today I had a followup appointment with my health practitioner. (You can read about it here). What's new about my regimen? Sunshine!! Yep, that's right. Twice a day, for 20 minutes, I am to "soak up the sunshine." Why? Other than the natural source of Vitamin D, it also has a sauna effect (go figure...in Oklahoma?!). That means that it also helps with those nasty aches and pains. So, even though it's in the upper 90's, I'll be getting me some sunshine.
But, that's not the only reason. I'll also be tending to the garden as it starts to produce it's fruits (or veggies!). I'm a firm believer that any time you can grow/harvest/eat your own food, you are just that much better off. Not only do you get to be the one in charge of how it's cared for (in my case it's non-GMO, no pesticides, no yuck), you also get an upper hand in what you are putting into your body. There are so many things in this world that we can't control. And, believe it or not, it all has an affect on our bodies. So, this is one thing I can do to help my family.
Now for a moment of truth. I actually am not the one doing the gardening. I leave that task up to my guys. But, I certainly enjoy harvesting it and prepping or preserving it when the time comes.
Then again, I actually am doing a bit of gardening. It's just not in the "traditional" sense of the word. I recently bought an indoor tower garden that allows me to grow lots of goodies, right in my kitchen! I'm currently growing a variety of herbs, lettuces, and whatever else I decide to experiment with. I'll be doing another post on this soon! For now, you can check out some info on it here.
If you've known me or followed me for long, you know that I have dealt a lot with special dietary needs in my family. We are talking 12+ years of personal experience!
To sum it up, my daughter (now 17) was diagnosed with hyperoxaluria when she was just 5 years old. Sadly, no one (not even a dietician) could help me figure out what to feed my daughter. I would go shopping and would literally have tears in my eyes because I didn't know what foods to buy for my child. I was left to do my own research. Sadly, at the time, there really wasn't a lot on the internet about it. It was quite the task! Eventually I was able to pull it all together and had a pretty good idea of what exactly she could and couldn't eat.
Fast forward a few more years and we also found out that she had a lot of food allergies on top of it all. A few years later we found out my husband has MTHFR, then I also tested positive for several food allergies. And that's still just the beginning!
Just this year I found out that I'm also dealing with Lyme Disease, which also comes with it's own special dietary needs. But wait...there's one more thing to really top it all off! My oldest (19 years old) just found out that he is having a hard time with his cells producing the energy his body needs (ATP). Along with this is his lack of being able to process/digest certain proteins, including beef, milk, and egg yolk.
As you can see, I have already had a lot of experience dealing with special dietary needs. And not just one at a time, I have had to learn how to adjust ALL of our needs so that I'm not making 4-5 different meals ever single night. Tricky? Yes! Doable? Absolutely!! Now, my goal is to help you do the same.
I am now a certified health and nutrition life coach. I am ready to take my 12+ years of experience and use them to make this path much easier for you to walk.
What exactly can I do to help?
- suggest ways to incorporate the right fruits a & vegetables into a healthy diet
- offer recipes
- tips for making food from scratch
- how to read labels
- tips for preserving food to cut down on cost and time in the kitchen
- offer support as you navigate your family's special dietary needs
My specialties are:
- Lyme Disease
- Various food allergies (dairy, gluten, sugar, etc)
- as well as learning exactly what it means to support the production of cellular energy (a current work in progress!)
What I offer:
- Basic guidelines for different dietary needs
- Tips for buying in bulk, preserving, & saving money on your grocery bill
- Time saving kitchen tips
- Tips on cooking/baking from scratch
Ready to get started? Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "nutrition coaching" and let me know how I can help and I'll give you a layout of what it looks like and the cost involved.
I look forward to helping you walk this path to better health and nutrition for you and your family!