How I’m Tackling The ME/CFS Flares
I had been doing so well for so long that I had almost forgotten how bad these flares can get. It can be discouraging when you are reminded so unexpectedly of the horrible passenger you carry with you always. This ME/CFS might be managed or worked around for a time, but it does come back to show itself from time to time, makes sure you remember it's still there and just how strong it is.
This is especially evident when you've got to a place of good pacing and scheduling so that you're living mostly symptom free, although a very limited life, you feel okay most of the time. You forget just how bad it can get.
You feel so good (for somebody with ME) you end up doing too much and are brutally reminded, either within minutes, hours or maybe even a few days, just how silly you were to think you had recovered.
I try not to get discouraged or upset when these setbacks come, because I know that it will soon be over again.
Whatever this illness is, it definitely thrives on frustration, sadness, anger, stress and anxiety. It thrives when we are in chaos and busy and worried. So I won't be feeding it any of that!
I have found the most productive thing to do is to accept what is and rest it out. Staying calm, relaxed, warm and comfortable... Trying to enjoy the downtime as much as the more active moments. Reminding myself that it's okay to switch off.
Rest is a work of vital importance. So don't fight it. Embrace it.
Anybody who knows me will know that I've been using a ketogenic diet to treat my ME/CFS and I've had great results in the form of symptom reduction or elimination (my story here).
That was until I recently had to change things up due to a histamine overload which caused severe allergic reactions all over my body. (read about that here)
My current way of eating
I don't usually have breakfast anymore, my first meal is at lunch and then again in the evening I might have a smaller snack-type meal. So a fat-filled coffee or golden milk and lots of water is all I'll have till then.
I have been doing only one meal a day since the start of the month because I suspected a histamine intolerance as the culprit for my 7 months of itching, rashes and hives.
Eating less frequently as well as reintroducing some non-keto, high carb ingredients back into my diet because of their histamine-reducing properties, has really helped calm my itching and hives, but I've also lost a bit of weight which I don't really need to lose. So I've devised a plan to try sort this out.
My action plan
I'm increasing my caloric intake just a bit by having one full meal with meat, veg and fats and one smaller meal focused on just protein and fat since I find most of my histamine triggers are vegetables or fruit anyway.
I also have a fat-filled dessert after each meal. Includes either double cream or coconut cream, chia seeds and a couple of blueberries. I also make sure to add a couple of Keto bounty bars which my mum makes for me, they're full of coconut oil and coconut cream. (recipe here if you're interested)
The heavy ME/CFS passenger
The main reason I've decided to avoid veg in my second meal is because I'm out of ketosis at the moment and so my ME/CFS symptoms are flaring. This is why I can't get up in the mornings.
I have the heaviness in my limbs again, I struggle to wake, I'm shaking and have pains creeping back.
So my plan is to focus on increasing protein and fat and keeping veg to a minimum so I can get back into ketosis as soon as possible and hopefully this flare will soon be gone!
I will probably go back to calculating macros too, it would be beneficial to know if my carbs really are below 20g a day which is my ideal amount to stay in ketosis. Everybody is different, but I had no improvements when aiming for 30g a day, my improvements only happened once I dropped the carbs to below 20g.
The plan is to eliminate the ME/CFS flare by returning to ketosis, yet keeping the histamine levels low by using quercetin and holy basil instead of the high carb fruit and veg I have been using this month.
Here are the two "supplements" I'll be using to help reduce my histamine reactions:
I've heard brilliant reviews on both of these products, so I'm quite hopeful they will provide relief.
Quercitin is an anti-inflammatory flavonoid found in some vegetables, teas and fruit. Many people use it to treat allergies and hayfever, but it can also be used for pain relief in inflammatory conditions.
I have been taking quercitin for just a couple of days, but I have just spent a couple of days with family visiting and I ate too many meals each day, so my histamine bucket is quite full and I'm itching much more than I was last week. Apparently a histamine overload caused by a high histamine meal can take a few days to work itself out of the system, so hopefully I'll notice the benefits in a few days.
I am also planning on adding some Holy Basil tea, or Tulsi, to the mix next week. Holy Basil is referred to as an adaptogen, helping reduce stress and inflammation in the body. It is quite a potent antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. It is used to help treat anxiety and stress, colds and flu, it reduces blood sugar and regulates cortisol levels and is even being used to treat cancer.
I don't usually enjoy herbal teas, but this particular one got rave reviews on Amazon, so I'm excited to try it, and if it can help reduce my itching, then I'm all for it, whatever it tastes like. Hoping for some flare-free weeks ahead!
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