Monday, August 31, 2015

Does weather affect symptoms? Plus easy paleo bread

High mountain lake in the Sawtooth Mountain Range
As far as I'm concerned, weather is a pain in the budinski. It's so unpredictable---either above or below normal. Only weather people get excited about setting records where weather is concerned. My fibro body does not appreciate record-setting weather.

What about you? How does weather affect your symptoms? From my perspective, weather seems to make my symptoms better or worse, depending on the weather. But I don't like extreme weather anyhow. I should just say "I don't do weather changes well."

Does weather affect fibromyalgia symptoms? No one seems to have definitive proof. In fact, some experts say "no" while fibro sufferers say "yes."Here's some information I found about weather and fibro.

How Does the Weather Affect Fibromyalgia Symptoms?

Many fibromyalgia patients claim that changes in the weather directly affect many of their symptoms. In fact, many fibromyalgia sufferers claim that their symptoms vary according to temperature changes, changes in air pressure, and changes in precipitation in their part of their world. Most fibromyalgia sufferers claim that they experience changes in:
  • fatigue
  • sleep patterns
  • headaches
  • muscle pain
  • the number of symptom flare ups
Who is Affected by Weather Changes?
According to a study performed in 1981, a large percentage of fibromyalgia sufferers may actually be sensitive to changes in the weather. In this particular study, 90% of patients claimed that weather was one of the most important influences on their fibromyalgia symptoms. And fibromyalgia sufferers aren’t the only ones to experience weather-related symptoms. You may also find that the weather exacerbates your symptoms if you have:
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • osteoarthritis
What Weather Factors Affect Fibromyalgia Sufferers?
There are five major weather factors that appear to affect fibromyalgia symptoms. These include:
  • Temperature: Rapid changes in temperature can sometimes trigger a fibromyalgia flare or help to ease fibromyalgia pain. Cold weather tends to make fibromyalgia symptoms worse, while warmer weather tends to ease those troublesome symptoms.
  • Barometric Pressure: Barometric pressure is a measurement of the weight that is exerted by the air all around us. On beautiful sunny days, barometric pressure tends to be quite high, but during a storm or similar weather front, barometric pressure drops suddenly. Fibromyalgia sufferers often find that these changes in barometric pressure can trigger muscle aches and pains.
  • Humidity: Absolute humidity is a measurement of the amount of water vapor present in each unit of air. When absolute humidity is low, fibromyalgia sufferers often report headaches, stiffness, and flares in widespread pain.
  • Precipitation: Precipitation is the term used to refer to any type of water that falls to the ground from the sky, including rain, sleet, snow, or hail. Precipitation is often accompanied by a change in barometric pressure, and therefore may exacerbate your symptoms of pain and fatigue.
  • Wind: Whether it’s a light wind or a gale-force wind, wind generally causes a decrease in barometric pressure. This means that wind can trigger fatigue, headaches, and muscle aches in fibromyalgia sufferers.

We have had nothing but "making the fibro lady miserable" weather in my area this summer. I mean it sucks the energy and joy right out of me but I still press on. Wildfires created numerous red air quality alerts coupled with above normal heat in my area. I had to head to the mountains just to get away from the horrible air and heat. 
 Having some sherpas helps if you are hiking/backpacking. My husband and pups carry more than their share of our gear.
Here I am enjoying a gourmet salmon wrap for lunch.
Here's Misha, the husky, relaxing in the clear mountain air.
Now, what I'd really like on one of my hikes is a paleo bread tuna sandwich, like this one.
Next time, I go backpacking or hiking, I'm going to make one of these babies. My plan is to freeze it so it will be ready when I am along the hike.
This paleo bread sandwich was made with this recipe:
5 T. tahini
1 egg
1 tsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch sea salt
Divide mixture into four discs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzled with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
Divide two eggs and allow to come to room temperature
The above recipe makes a pretty sturdy "bread" that holds up well. However, it can be a bit hard to digest because of the tahini. That's why I also have tried  a different version that uses Greek yogurt instead of tahini.

Here's what you need:
2 grassfed eggs, separated and brought to room temperature
3 T. plain Greek yogurt or try other yogurt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
pinch of sea salt
Beat the whites until peaks form
Mix together the yogurt, egg yolks, baking soda and salt
 Start by separating two eggs into two bowls---one with whites, the other yolks. Once the whites reach room temperature, beat them until peaks form. In a separate bowl, mix together the yolks, 3 T. plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. cider vinegar, sea salt.
 Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil. Drop the mixture by spoonfuls as shown above.
 Bake until golden, about 12-15 minutes.

These are a good bread alternative. They will hold up well in a lunch box but probably not a pack.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Traveling with fibro; campers' chocolate fix

Relaxing at Kelly Lake after hiking from campsite
Whatever your traveling passion, it will take extra planning and determination to accomplish if you have fibromyalgia or other chronic illness.

Fur kids enjoy a peanut butter snack
Your traveling passion might range from camping to touring another country.

Fur kids enjoy another peanut butter snack
Wherever you go you will need to start your preparation well ahead of time to minimize the stress involved in getting ready for a trip.As you probably know from personal experience, stress is not your friend if you have fibro. It can cause symptoms to be much worse.

I recently went on my first camping/backpacking trip of the summer. It was a simple trip compared to embarking on a trip to another country but I still had to do lots of prep. Here are some things I learned during the preparation phase of my trip:

  • Start well ahead of time. If you don't, there will be unwanted stress that might flare up your symptoms.
  • Make sure other people in your traveling party are on the same page and also will start well ahead of time. Those you are traveling with might inadvertently trigger stress if they cause you to be behind schedule.

Campers', travelers' easy chocolate fix
  • You will need to take some or all of your own food, depending on your eating restrictions. You might need snacks or even meals, as I did for camping/backpacking. Get started on cooking days, weeks ahead of time.
  • Same goes for all your vitamins, supplements. Line them up by day, if possible, to make them easy to take. You don't want to miss a dose.
  • Be prepared to fall back on your plans if you or traveling companions are not ready. 
 My trip went well but unfortunately, preparing for a trip when you have fibro is no bed of roses. I laid out a schedule of what to get done every day prior to leaving. I had everything done but all the food prep, etc., can be overwhelming. I guess the bottom line is if you want to get away from home, you just have to go do it.

While your traveling, you might want a simple treat to prepare. You can make my campers'/travelers' chocolate fix dessert at a campground, in an RV or in a motel room, equipped with a microwave and mini-fridge. I prepare the ingredients ahead of time in a ziploc baggie for a single serving.

Here's what you need:

1/2 cup water
1-2 T. cocoa powder
stevia or other sweetener
pinch of salt
dash of cinnamon powder
1 T. gelatin
optional garnish: yogurt of your choice

Here's what you do:
Put all the ingredients except for water in a ziploc baggie during your prep for trip. To prepare, heat your water to warm in small cup or jar, and stir in the ingredients. Set the mixture in the fridge or off in the shade if camping. When ready to eat, garnish with yogurt or chocolate sauce, if desired.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chewing your food properly may help with fibro; campers' brownies

Eat slowly to improve our digestion

My stomach is upset right now because I didn't chew my food properly this morning. It's bloated and gassy, rumbling, and I'm burping. I was in a hurry as many people are when eating. I swallowed big bites which means I won't get the nutrition from the healthy meal I prepared. Swallowing big bites means improper digestion and all the assorted unpleasant symptoms.

Eating too quickly is a big problem for many people but it is a HUGE problem for someone with fibromyalgia. Those of us with fibro don't have robust digestive systems to begin with. Our digestive tract has been damaged; we lack many digestive enzymes; we have many food intolerances; we suffer from bacterial overgrowths; and we have numerous nutritional deficiencies.

And then, here I go gobbling up my meal. Yes, it takes longer to eat a meal slowly but the benefits our enormous for one's health. Chewing slowly is the beginning of the digestive process. By breaking up food into smaller pieces, your food is more easily digested. That's right, we're not snakes. We can't swallow our food whole and then digest it.
Chewing releases saliva which contains digestive enzymes. The longer you chew, the more time these enzymes have to start breaking down your food. All of this makes digestion easier on your body and your body more able to absorb nutrients from the food.

I, of course, have promised many times not to violate the rule: "I will not eat my food quickly." But I've already confessed that I violate this rule when I am in a hurry and/or really hungry.

Every time I violate this rule I am undermining all my other efforts to control my fibro symptoms. Duh! I have a bacterial overgrowth (SIBO and candida). I suppress it by eating the right foods that are chewed properly, not by gulping down my food.

Are you like me? Then, this is what we need to do all the time.

  • Take smaller bites of food.
  • Chew slowly
  • Chew until each bite of food has been liquified or lost all of its texture.
  • Finish chewing and swallowing completely before taking another bite of food.
  • Wait to drink fluids until you've swallowed your bite of food.
  • Don't talk while eating.
  • Don't eat with your mouth open as you swallow air.
What do you do if you are crunched for time?
  • Eat just enough to alleviate your hunger.
  • Save the rest to eat later as a snack.
Campers' brownie
Here's what I'm eating slowly---campers' brownie. You can make it in a skillet over your campfire or on your stove.

Ingredients you will need for one serving:

1 grassfed egg
2 T. flour of your choice (I chose cricket flour because other flours have more fermentation potential)
2 T.  farmers cheese or seed or nut butter of choice 
2 T. cocoa powder
stevia, to taste
pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup plain kefir, yogurt or dairy beverage of choice
optional: chocolate topping and dollops of your favorite seed or nut butter
1 T. coconut oil

Campers' brownie batter
Mix all your ingredients. Heat a skillet and coconut oil.

Cook over medium heat with lid in place.

Look for bubbles forming and batter pulling away from the sides to check for doneness.
Garnish with chocolate drizzle and/or spoonsful of your favorite seed or nut butter.

Serve as a brownie parfait layered with yogurt and more chocolate drizzle, if desired.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Embrace change and step out of your comfort zone for traveling/trekking

A conceptual road sign on Change  - stock photo

Getting enough fuel for your favorite aerobic activity can be challenging if you have starch intolerance. My favorite summertime activity is hiking and backpacking. Unfortunately for me, I have starch intolerance which accompanies my other problem, fibromyalgia. 

Individuals with starch intolerance experience stomach distress after consuming starches and sugars. Starch intolerance is the body’s inability to completely process carbohydrates (sugars and starches) due to inadequate or absent enzymes needed for their digestion. Starch intolerance often goes hand in hand with fibromyalgia where sufferers have IBS and bacterial infections which damage the digestive tract's ability to produce enzymes for digestion.

Hikers/backpackers and individuals participating in other sports rely on carbohydrates to provide the fuel their bodies need during high energy activities.  Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) are our body’s primary source of energy. 

Energy bars loaded with grains, seeds/nuts, dried fruit and sugar are popular pack-along-food for hikers and other weekend warriors. Unfortunately, this food combination can be “lethal” for those with starch intolerance who experience gas, cramps, bloating and diarrhea and/or constipation from such foods.

 Never Give Up On Something You Really Want

Do you throw in the towel and give up the activities you love? Or do you get creative in gathering foods for your adventures?

I choose to get creative. I admit some of the foods I am packing for my upcoming hiking/camping trip are not ones I ever pictured myself eating. For instance, pemmican, a blend of jerky, animal fat and sometimes berries, was previously not on my shopping list but now it is. Pemmican was a food used by ancient peoples that was packable and full of energy.
Bailey, the cat, ready to travel


 Yes, I am choosing to fuel myself with foods from the paleo eating plan.
Here are some ideas for packable but low-starch foods:

·         Pemmican
·         Jerky
·         Hard-boiled eggs or pickled eggs
·         Kale or similar veggie chips
·         Homemade fruit leather (minus the added sugar)

Veggie chips drying in the oven at 175 degrees

This week I have been making watermelon and cantaloupe leathers. The recipe is simple.

What you need

8 cups watermelon or cantaloupe, cut into cubes

Watermelon leather puree in the oven


What you do

If you have a juicer, juice the watermelon or cantaloupe. Reserve the juice for another time and focus on the pulp or solids from the juicing process.

Spread the pulp on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Place in your oven, set to 175 degrees, for about four hours or until the fruit is dry.

Cut into pieces and store in Ziploc baggies for your adventures.

Dry and ready to cut watermelon leather


Alternative for no juicer:

Puree the fruit in your blender. Pour the puree through a cheesecloth over a bowl to separate the solids from the liquid. Remember to use the solids for your fruit leathers and save the liquid to drink.

Why use watermelon or cantaloupe? Both of these fruits contain sugars which are easily digested by those with starch intolerance. However, you still must limit how much you eat.

Kale veggie chips in the oven

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