Today I wanted to share with you my timeline to recovery from CFS/ME.
CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) is a chronic illness with extreme exhaustion and flu-like symptoms that is difficult to recover from. Many people suffer from CFS/ME for many years.
Some people with ME/CFS can recover in a few years (like me), some people recover in decades, and sadly some people never recover. Everyone has a different recovery time.
I first got ill in December 2008 which I when I had to stop working and move back with my parents. I was able to go back to work full-time in December 2011. So my recovery time took 3 years.
The key to recovering is finding all of your root causes with symptom diagnosis and functional testing and pulling them out. You may have multiple root causes and it can take time to find them all and treat them.
Below I share with you my timeline to recovery from CFS/ME so you can see how long it took me to recover from my CFS from the time I went to see a Nutritionist, to the time I was able to work full-time again. I’ve also shared other things I tried that helped me on my recovery journey. I hope it gives you hope.
Nutritionist, Supplements & diet change – I went to see a Nutritionist, at the recommendation of my Acupuncturist. This was the best thing I ever did for my ME recovery. She used a Vegatest Bioresonance machine to detect that I had Candida overgrowth, Epsteinn Barr virus and cytomegalo virus. She gave me a course of natural supplements to kill off the infections. Also I was deficient in Vitamin C, iron and Omega-6-fatty acids and she gave me vitamins to take. Additionally she discovered that I was intolerant to cow’s milk, yeast, sugar and beef. So I immediately cut all these foods out of my diet. I felt much better after doing this, especially after cutting out sugar. I began eating healthier, experimenting with cooking new foods. After removing my food intolerances andtaking these supplements for a few weeks, I had a lot more energy. I could concentrate for longer, my mind was clearer; I could do more physical activities around the house such as cooking and washing my hair.
Fluconazole – the nutritionist advised my to visit my doctor when she detected that I had a yeast infection. He prescribed me fluconazole for my thrush.
Anti-Candida Diet – I felt weak and shaky the morning after cutting out sugar from my diet. This is the body’s normal response of withdrawal symptoms to suddenly stopping taking a drug. I replaced the processed white sugar with fruit.
NHS Pacing Programme – I went once but did not like it as they were very patronising and only talked about the managing the symptoms and not things that might help cure them. They made us sit on hard, uncomfortable chairs which for people with ME who have aching bodies is not very comfortable. I felt that they didn’t understand ME.
Relaxation Music – as I was housebound I would spend most of the day sitting in the conservatory watching the nature outside and reading and spent the evenings listening to relaxation music from Global Journey where you can get 25 free downloads. This really helped to slow down my overactive nervous system and get me out of fight-or-flight mode and into the rest-and-digest parasympathetic nervous system. The gentle sounds, calmed and relaxed me and left me feeling so peaceful and content.
Positive Affirmations – I also read the most amazing book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ by Louise L. Hay. She taught me how to change my negative thinking habits into positive ones and how positive thoughts attract positive experiences and it brought miraculous events into my life.
Holosync Meditation – I discovered Holosync Audio meditation. This is another one of the best things I have ever done. Whilst resting for an hour everyday laying on my bed, I listened to the audio meditations on my iPod and allowed my body to get into the healing state. It quietened my over-active mind. I became a more peaceful, calm and happy person. My stress tolerance improved and I now don’t get upset about the things that I used to. I remain calm under pressure.
Reduce ElectroMagnetic Radiation (EMR) – I turned my bedroom into a tranquil paradise and removed most of my electrical appliances such as my TV and computer to reduce nasty EMFs that affect my sleep.
Massage – I started having massage at a beauty clinic using essential oils which warmed and relaxed my tense and aching muscles and left me feeling so peaceful and calm. It is a shame the effects wear off after a day!
6 Month Check-Up with Nutritionist – I had a 6 month check up with the Nutritionist. All my results on the Bio-resonance machine were good. I told her about a past trauma I had had and she recommended that I went to go and see a counsellor and hypnotherapist.
Counselling & Hypnotherapy – It was helpful to talk about traumas that happened in the past and my current problems. She gave me some great advice such as encouraging me to join a ballroom dancing club to be around people again and to learn to drive to get more freedom and independence. She did guided visualisations to get me into a relaxed state and then put positive messages into my subconscious mind.
Learn to drive – I started having driving lessons once a week for an hour. I found it mentally and physically exhausting, using muscles that I hadn’t used before to press the clutch and accelerator. However I had a great driving instructor who made me laugh! I passed my driving test the second time around in August and bought a car. This gave me freedom and independence.
University – my counsellor encouraged me to leave home and go back to university. As I was interested in Nutrition I enrolled in a Dietetics degree. I got a place at the University of Plymouth. However after a 4 hour drive, when I got to the room I would be staying in, I realised I couldn’t stay there. It was cold and horrible with squeaky floor boards and an unforgiving landlord. In the end I returned home. It was a big trauma and I had to pay for the room rent for a year as I had signed the contract. This left me with no money and I had to sign on for job seekers allowance and look for a job.
Volunteering – I started on job seekers allowance and volunteered at the British Heart Foundation Furniture & Electrical shop to get back into society. I regained my confidence, made friends and had a lot of fun.
Full-time job – I started working in a full-time job on a contract as an administrator in an office. This is the point that I began to call myself fully recovered as I was able to work and function in society again.
Constipation is the opposite of diarrhoea – it’s when your stool tends to stick around longer than necessary. Often it’s drier, lumpier, and harder than normal, and may be difficult to pass.
Constipation often comes along with abdominal pain and bloating. And can be common in people with certain gut issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It’s also very common in people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME).
About 14-24% of adults experience constipation. Constipation becomes chronic when it happens at least three times per week for three months.
If you have chronic constipation it can cause fatigue and inflammation in the body as toxins recirculate.
Constipation can be caused by diet or stress, and even changes to our daily routine. Sometimes the culprit is a medical condition or medications. And sometimes there can be a structural problem with the gut. Many times the cause is unknown.
Whether you know why or not, there are some things you can do if you get constipated.
So what to eat if you get constipated?
You’ve probably heard to eat more prunes (and figs and dates) if you get constipated.
Why is that?
It comes down to fibre.
Dietary fibre is a type of plant-based carbohydrate that we can’t digest and absorb. Unlike cows, humans don’t have the digestive enzymes to break it down. And that’s a good thing!
Even though we can’t digest it ourselves, fibre is very important for our gut health for two reasons.
First, fibre helps to push things through our system (and out the other end).
Second, fibre is an important food for feeding the friendly microbes in our gut.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water to make a gel-like consistency. It can soften and bulk up the stool; this is the kind of fibre that you want to focus on for helping with constipation. Soluble fibre is found in legumes (beans, peas, lentils), fruit (apples, bananas, berries, citrus, pears, etc.), vegetables (broccoli, carrots, spinach, etc.), and grains like oats.
Psyllium is a soluble non-fermenting fibre from corn husks. It’s been shown to help soften stools and produce a laxative effect.
Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, holds onto water and can help to push things through the gut and get things moving. It’s the kind found in the skins and seeds of fruits and vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, celery, zucchini, as well as the skins of apples, pears, and potatoes.
It’s recommended that adults consume between 20-35 grams of fibre per day.
If you are going to increase your fibre intake, make sure to do it gradually. Radically changing your diet can make things worse!
And, it’s also very important to combine increased fibre intake with my next point to drink more fluids.
NOTE: There is conflicting evidence on how fibre affects constipation. In some cases, less insoluble fibre may be better, especially if you have certain digestive issues. So, make sure you’re monitoring how your diet affects your gut health and act accordingly. And don’t be afraid to see your healthcare provider when necessary.
Since your stools are hard and dry when you’re constipated, drinking more fluids can help keep everything hydrated and moist. This is especially true when trying to maintain a healthy gut every day, rather than when trying to deal with the problem of constipation after it has started.
And it doesn’t only have to be water – watery foods like soups, and some fruits and vegetables can also contribute to your fluid intake.
Always ensure you’re well hydrated, and drinking according to thirst; this is recommended for gut health as well as overall health.
Probiotics are beneficial microbes that come in fermented foods and supplements. They have a number of effects on gut health and constipation. They affect gut transit time (how fast food goes through us), increase the number of bowel movements per week, and help to soften stools to make them easier to pass.
Probiotic foods (and drinks) include fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut and kimchi), miso, kefir, and kombucha.
More research is needed when it comes to recommending a specific probiotic supplement or strain. If you’re going to take supplements, make sure to read the label to ensure that it’s safe for you. And take it as directed.
Some studies show that the gut benefits from regular exercise.
Ideally, aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes most days.
In terms of stress, when we’re stressed, it often affects our digestive system. The connection between our gut and our brain is so strong, researchers have coined the term “gut-brain axis.”
By better managing stress, we can help to reduce emotional and physical issues (like gut issues) that may result from stress. Try things like meditation, deep breathing, and exercise.
And last but not least – make sure to go when you need to go! Don’t hold it in because that can make things worse.
Optimal digestion is so important for overall health. Constipation is a common problem.
Increasing our fibre and water intake and boosting our friendly gut microbes are key things we can do to help things move along.
And don’t forget how lifestyle habits can affect our physical health! Exercise, stress management, and going to the bathroom regularly can also help us maintain great gut health.
Have you found that fibre, water, or probiotics affect your gut health? What about exercise, stress, and regular bathroom trips? I’d love to know in the comments below!
150g oats, gluten-free
Pinch sea salt
300ml almond milk, unsweetened
2 medium pears, sliced
4 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Toast oats by placing them in a large saucepan over medium-high heat for 2-4 minutes. Make sure to stir them frequently to prevent burning. Add salt, water, and almond milk to the saucepan of toasted oats. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes, or until desired tenderness is reached. Divide into four bowls and top with pears, walnuts, maple syrup, and cinnamon.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: If you want to roast your pears first, place them in a baking dish at 200C for about 10 minutes while you’re cooking the oats.
Many people who have CFS or adrenal fatigue crave coffee. This could be because you are struggling to have enough energy to keep going every day and get everything done.
Coffee is one of those things – you either love it or hate it. You know if you like the taste or not (or if it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream). You know how it makes you feel (i.e. your gut, your mind, etc.).
Not to mention the crazy headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!
There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It’s a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you’re used to drinking.
NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Drinking coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants such as polyphenols, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some.
Let’s look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.
Not all people metabolise caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolise caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.
About half of us are “slow” metabolisers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel “wired” for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is “fast” metabolisers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.
This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much – because we’re all different!
NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.
The effects of drinking coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.
Here’s a list of the effects of drinking coffee (that usually decrease with long-term use):
Stimulates the brain
Boosts energy and exercise performance
Increases your stress hormone cortisol
So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.
There are a ton of studies on the health effects of drinking coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.
Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:
Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)
Increased sleep disruption
Lower risk of Alzheimer‘s and Parkinson’s
Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
A lower risk of certain liver diseases
Lower risk of death (“all cause mortality”)
Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease
Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).
NOTE: What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.
There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.
Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:
People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
Those who often feel anxious
People who have trouble sleeping
Women who are pregnant
If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:
Give you the jitters?
Increase anxious feelings?
Affect your sleep?
Give you heart palpitations?
Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?
Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?
In conclusion, depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a while and see the difference.
3 tbsp coconut milk
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin puree
½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 cup coffee (decaf if preferred)
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can use tea instead of milk if you prefer.
With the stressful pace of modern living in the West, the adrenal glands can struggle to keep up! Your adrenal glands secrete adrenaline and other stress hormones to help you to cope with stress. When you are feeling exhausted, your adrenals give you the energy to keep going!
With constant stress, your adrenals are continuously being stimulated until they crash. This is when you can experience adrenal fatigue.
People with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) often have adrenal fatigue leaving them bed bound.
So how can you use nutrition for supporting the adrenal glands?
Which diet is better for CFS recovery? Is a vegetarian or stone-age diet better when recovering from CFS? There are so many diets out there, how do you know which one is right for you?
Everybody is unique and no one diet fits all. Some people have food intolerances or allergies to certain foods.
When I was recovering from my CFS, I was eating meats such as lamb, pork and also fish such as rainbow trout or seabass 2-3x per week. I was also eating carbs such as gluten-free bread, wild rice, gluten-free pasta and dried apricots. I ate plenty of broccoli, peas and carrots. So I was on a moderate protein, moderate carbohydrate, low refined sugar diet.
When I visited a Nutritionist, she detected that I had intolerances to beef, sugar, yeast and cow’s milk. So being an all-or-nothing kind of person, I immediately cut out these foods. Within a few weeks I felt a lot better. After 5 months of following her nutrition and supplement plan I had my energy back. Basically she put me on an anti-candida diet as my body was overrun with Candida and my immune system was weak.
A stone-age diet is high in meat and animal protein, low in carbohydrates and high in fat. Dr Myhill recommends a stone-age/paleo diet for people with CFS, as meat is rich in amino acids and protein which boost the immune system and heal tissue damage in the body. People with blood type O do better on a stone-age diet as they have high levels of stomach acid and can easily digest meat.
A vegetarian diet done correctly is full of vegetables, lentils, legumes and beans and is rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants. People with blood type A do better on a vegetarian diet, possibly with some fish. For people who have low stomach acid and find meat difficult to digest, or those on PPIs such as omeprazole or lansoprazole which block stomach acid production, may do better on a vegetarian diet. Also meat can be constipating so eliminating meat eases constipation and improves your detoxification abilities.
So which diet is better for CFS recovery? Personally I would recommend a low sugar, anti-candida diet for healing CFS. Avoiding refined sugar, sugary fruits like bananas, grapes and dried fruits, also avoiding yeast found in bread, mushrooms, fermented foods, cheese, peanuts and cashew nuts.
Also you need to avoid your food intolerances which deplete your body’s energy. The most common food intolerances are to gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley and rolled oats) and cow’s milk.
You need to eat plenty of protein when recovering from CFS to boost your immune system and to heal tissue damage. So a Stone-age diet is very beneficial. If you are vegetarian and can’t face eating meat, I would recommend a high protein vegetarian diet eating plenty of beans, chickpeas, lentils, non-GMO tofu and eggs.
If you don’t eat oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines or herring regularly, which I didn’t when recovering from my CFS, you need to take an omega 3 supplement e.g. a fish oil or a vegan algal omega 3 supplement. I took igennus Vegepa supplement.
For more information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), contact Kate and book a free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call.
Do you feel tired all the time? Are you unable get up in the morning? You may have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). Below I talk more about the illness and what causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Firstly to get a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome you will undergo multiple testing. After all avenues have been ruled out then you can be diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. When you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you have a group of symptoms including:
Currently around 250,000 people suffer with the illness in the UK. Women more commonly get this chronic illness, especially between the ages of 20-45.
There are many root causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is a complex condition. It is caused by a combination of factors that over time have weakened your body. Furthermore many people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome find that a very stressful event triggered their illness. Below I have listed some of the common triggers to chronic fatigue syndrome:
However in my experience with ME/CFS patients, the main root cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a high sugar diet. This leads to a suppressed immune system, viruses and a Candida overgrowth. In my new 12 Week Fatigue-Fighting Programme we tackle the root cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with 12 week low sugar meal plans.
For more information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), book your free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call.
Nutrition is a powerful allie when recovering from ME/CFS. A question I get asked a lot as a Nutritionist is “What should I eat?” In this article I will explain the best foods to eat for healing ME/CFS.
Firstly, let me tell you what I ate when I was ill with my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Step 1: Junk Food
When I was a university student living away from home and first became ill with ME/CFS I used to eat a diet of junk food such as:
By eating all these junk foods in excess I destroyed my health.
I now know that when you microwave meals it denatures the structure of the food so it is not the same food that went into the microwave!
Step 2: Gluten-Free in Recovery
After a positive Coeliac IgA blood test result from my Doctor in May 2009 I removed wheat from my diet and cooked things such as:
These are the foods that I was eating during my recovery from 2010-2011. then helped me to regain my health.
If you would like to find out more about diet for healing ME/CFS, book your free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call.
When you have recurrent Candida it can be very difficult to get rid of! You may have tried multiple courses of antibiotics which work for a short time and then the Candida comes back with avengence! Below I explain how to kill recurrent Candida.
So what can you do?
Well you need to treat the root cause of the problem which is poor diet. Your diet may be high in sugary, processed foods which are feeding the Candida.
Remove refined sugar from your diet and replace it with low sugar fruits such as apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries and kiwis. When you stop feeding the Candida it will start to starve and die off. You may have sugar cravings for a few days during the die off period. Check out my post on anti-candida diet for ideas on what foods to eat to kill Candida.
You need to boost your immune system to help your body to fight off the Candida. Eat more zinc rich foods such as fish and seafood to power your immune system. Also eating foods high in vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant, protects the body during the die off period when Candida release harmful toxins. You can eat more oranges, spinach and tomatoes to get your dose of vitamin C.
Drink at least 2 litres of filtered water daily to help flush out toxins during the die off period. It also helps you to stay hydrated so your body can function more efficiently.
Eat natural anti-fungals including raw garlic, onion and coconut oil. These work gently to kill off the Candida without destroying all the good bacteria in your gut.
If you want more tips on how to kill candida, download my free guide here.
You can go ahead and book your free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call! Or you can contact me using the contact form below.
Around 250,000 people in Britain are recognised as having M.E or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Many more are undiagnosed. I suffered with severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 3 years. It was after visiting a Nutritionist and following her plan for a few months that I began to get my energy back. After a year I was fully recovered and back working again. Below you can read my tips for recovering from ME/CFS.