2015 saw the creation of Lemon and Coconut (my name before it became The Whole Food Diary – note from a future self xx ) , an endeavour that has meant so much to me, and to Dan (my wonderful as-of-this-year husband and best friend of fifteen years ♥). Thank you for your support, your subscriptions (if you haven’t already do subscribe here and receive an email of all my posts ♥) and your kind words, for using my recipes, for those instagram and facebook likes and shares and twitter retweets, and for listening as I pour out my heart. It is so important to support each other, to spread the word about how food can heal and help improve people’s quality of life, and of how delicious and rewarding such a plant-based diet can be. It is the future! Or at least the key to a sustainable one. I can’t wait to share 2016 with you and my culinary journey towards as healthy a life as I can achieve, and to help you do the same!
What I’d love is to bring together a community of people, to support each other, to share ideas and thoughts on plant-based food, following specialist diets, the relationship between food and health, and coping and getting the most from life! Join me on facebook, when I get enough people together in 2016 I’d like to start a facebook group, a space where people can say what they want without feeling self-conscious. Open expression is such a great, healing thing, sometimes we need to have a rant, ask a question or say that we need support, and there is so much experience and knowledge out there that would be valuable for others to share.
LET’S GO FOR IT! X X
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So 2016 is here! HELP! Already it is filled with challenges. Christmas, long awaited and looked forward to as a haven-space where happiness may be found, was a car-crash. I must admit I feel like I’ve been run over! On a personal level there is a lot of stress, I ache, everything hurts, my chest is so tight and I am striving to reach out to the future with a strong and balanced drive, but inside I sound like this.
I am watching reruns of the Great British Bake-off. That helps.
Last night early morning I gave myself a haircut. Oh God.
A big thing is that I am coming to terms with having fybromyalgia, and this for me is not an easy process as already I live with multiple autoimmune conditions and a hand disability that make life a real challenge, and fybromyalgia itself is pretty all-consuming. It is painful, tiring, and involves a lack of endorphins, which are the body’s tools for fighting pain and stress, and so coping with such a condition is inherently difficult, and the knock-on effect is that coping with all the other conditions I have is made extra difficult also. Stress is itself a cause of ill-health, and so it is a vicious circle (or as I had previously stated, a viscous circle… sounds about right too actually…)
AAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!! Stress is stressing me out!
I think it is very important to be open about such health conditions, they are so often shrouded in mystery and there are so many misconceptions, something that needs to be addressed, collectively. For example, a lot of people think that fibromyalgia is psychosomatic. It is not. (Though even if it were, who really understands that term? Not many. The mind and body’s interrelation is complex and prone to erroneous opinion and unfair judgement, I could rant here, but I will postpone that!). Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune condition that causes stress both by being painful and debilitating but also because it largely decreases endorphin production, and endorphins are how people chemically fight stress and pain and feel happiness. It affects every aspect of life, emotion, intimacy, energy, physical ability and cognitive and mental health. It causes ‘foggy brain’, a description I really dislike (because I dislike what it is so much) but it is very accurate. Diabetes and coeliac disease, both of which I have, also cause this. So for me it gets pretty foggy. Which is not to say I am not an observant or intelligent or capable person, but that I have a fight on my hands, all day every day from pretty much every direction imaginable.
disability is not always visible or straightforward.
To look at me, you wouldn’t know I am disabled, unless at that time I am lame. How many other people are living with such problems we must ask ourselves? What don’t we know? What don’t we hear when we are told? How open are our hearts to each other’s suffering? Often, and especially if something is not easily and tidily comprehensible, which actually is rarely the case, I think the answer is not very. In this modern world we are increasingly self-obsessed. I don’t think that everyone is obligated to help every person, but I do think that the least we can do is to live sympathetically and with kindness, acknowledge what others are going through and try to hear and understand. So much ignorance is perpetuated. Illness is so in every way marginalising, and made so much harder to cope with.
I realised this year that when an old person walks past bent over, I more often than not first absently think, without thinking, there’s a bent over older person, not, that person is in a lot of pain. The oldest generation is the most marginalised of all, living with pain and reduced ability, and so often hardly acknowledged outside of the family, so easily living a very difficult and lonely life. If someone is limping, if they can hardly walk, they are in pain. I know how hard a life in pain is, how difficult it is not to be able to do everyday things easily. I’m not old, I’m 33, but I feel ancient often and I am terrified of what old-age will be like for me. If someone is old (look, some people find this word offensive, I don’t, I think that’s quite offensive and ageist stance in itself), then they are certain to have lived through trauma, loss, and are facing the unknown future we all face. Let’s make sure we give them the love and respect that they deserve, and create a world of considerate people who will do the same. We are all people, only some people have seen more of life, and some have taken more notice than others.
let’s fight ageism.
So often people of the older generations are more self-contained, and it is easy to think of them as a race apart, hard to know how to communicate sometimes, we are different in our culture in many ways, but we are all people, with a lot to offer each other, and we all have a right to a level of respect and care, and we can all share a smile and feel its warmth. Of course they may think you are barmy, or be an old curmudgeon (which I will probably be…), they may even be an ex-gun runner, or God knows what, but there you go. Takes all-sorts. They may just be a decent person whose life could be made more bearable by the kindness and consideration of others.
There is a very old lady who lives near me, Margery, she must be nearly 100. She has a lot of support from her family, so is not in need of much, but I’d very much like to know her better, to hear her story if she wants to share it. I smile and say hello, and sent her a Christmas card, but I feel shy, I don’t know what to say. This year I hope to break through those barriers and make friends, and to find someone who needs to have a cup of tea and a chat, who lives alone and has little support.
One of my dearest friends, Ted, is in his late seventies, and we never run out of things to talk about, putting the world to rights. But he is an unusual character, an old Salfordian communist battler who, after a week at the local mill, joined the navy at 15 and sailed the world, has some really rather extraordinary tattoos, and is one of the kindest and best people I know. We hope to write his biography, such a life he has led that will never be seen again in this changing world. But he too is lonely, I know, frustrated by his failing health and the solitary life it forces him to lead. Frustrated by the unfriendliness he sees everywhere, when he is the first to reach out a hand to someone in need, as he did to me.
Let’s work to make this a world in which people are not so easily marginalised.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
We have a collective responsibility to each other, as friends, family, neighbours, co-workers, bosses, citizens, to create an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding, to live with and pass on to each other and the next generations the manners and respect that creates a tolerable collective environment. When you are coping with a lot, this matters so much. And we will all be coping with a lot at some point in our lives, and in need of a safe place to be and the kindness of others.
A smile, a kind word, a gentle touch, a thoughtful word or action, all these things go a long way. A simple heartfelt ‘how are you feeling?’, and listening to the reply, could mean so much to someone, it acknowledges their humanity, it allows them to be ♥
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP YOURSELF?
As a person, and especially if you are living with chronic health conditions, you must protect yourself from harsh environments, from stress and upset as much as you can, live with as much love and as much understanding as is possible, for yourself as well as others, and be truly kind to yourself. When living with restrictions you must make sure that you are your own ally.
TREAT YOURSELF WELL
I cannot emphasise the importance of this enough. Ask, how do I arm myself with as much strength as I can, how do I give myself the best chance at the best life I can have? You need to have coping strategies, ways to relax and the underlying optimal health that will give you the ability to be able to get the most from life, to fight depression, to fight further illness, to be as positive as you can be amidst adversity. To get the things you need to get done, done.
food is the key!
Food is a tool, a weapon, that can be misused against ourselves, causing disease and degeneration, or used to arm ourselves in the battle we all face. The right food, good wholesome plant-based food, will give you the strength, the fuel to fight, to keep as fit as you can, to build up the defenses you need in order to cope with life’s challenges. If you live with health conditions, follow an elimination diet, learn which foods agree with you and you will be so much stronger. Trust me, it is not only possible but is far more enjoyable than you may imagine. My organic veg box has opened up a whole new world of culinary delight for me. I appreciate food more, I love my fruit and veg so much. And there is just an endless variety of foods to eat; what may seem restricted really doesn’t have to be at all.
choose to eat the foods that will make you as healthy and strong as you can be!
That is what it’s all about. My recipes share an anti-inflammatory diet for pain relief and optimal health, and I aim to offer motivation and support. Good wholesome plant-based food for everyone to enjoy, whatever their needs. I am sharing my own journey, the specialist diet I follow, learning how to replace the foods I have cut out recently, such as grains and nightshade vegetables, which has not been easy, but it’s been very rewarding too, and the benefits are tangible. I reduce the pain I live with, reduce my stress and improve my quality of life a great deal through the food I eat. And others with less complex health needs can see far greater results!
Here are some of my favourite recipes from 2015 ♥
My first ever sauerkraut was a big thing for me!
Nigella Seed Cashew Cheese was a favourite cheese, and my first time using the wonderful nigella seed…
Avocado ketchup was such a good invention, it’s been so popular and is something I make all the time ♥
A lot of parsnip ‘chippy’ chips have been eaten too I must admit!
Squashes have been so important to me, I have enjoyed them so so much, in soups such as spiced red lentil & roast butternut squash soup lemon squash & lentil soup, and I have really enjoyed kasha stuffed squash too. I love squashes, I like just having them around the kitchen they make me happy ♥
I adore cheesy squash vegan pizza, which I eat as a regular treat a few times a month, and is always amazing…
At the moment I am mad on easy pickled fennel. Having such foods to hand just makes life that bit nicer, and makes it easier to follow a specialist diet successfully. Making it easy for yourself is what it’s all about ♥
And 2015 has definitely been the year of chocolate, cacao and coconut truffles of various kinds, such as these chocolate almond raw cake bites that have really pulled me through many a difficult day and made life just that little bit sweeter. I truly adore them.
In fact I have loved every recipe and post and shared the food that has helped me on this positive journey, cutting out the foods that worsen my health, following an anti-inflammatory specialist diet. I CAN’T WAIT to continue, to reach more people, to learn more ways in which I can eat well and enjoy the food that makes me well.
Here’s to 2016, may it bring you good health, balance and understanding ♥
LET’S GO FOR IT!