Unbalanced + Fatigued

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Do you ever feel like when one thing in your life gets thrown off track, everything else gets thrown off track at the same time? When I feel unbalanced I crave balance so much and it's the one thing in my life I need to work on a whole lot more. I don't meditate, I don't journal (apart from a gratitude journal I do with Orlaith some nights), I haven't practiced yoga or exercised for a few months now, and I rarely allow myself to properly wind down and relax.

And of course, while everything is so unbalanced inside, things on the outside start getting affected too. For instance when I can't keep on top of keeping my apartment tidy, at the same time I can't keep on top of planning and eating healthy meals, at which time I'm finding it hard to be productive or concentrate on anything. Plus the non stop colds and other lingering symptoms of someone who's less than healthy.

A few months ago I started getting severe headaches and migraines plus my whole body swelled up. Both lasted a month and then went away by themselves (thank goodness). I still have no idea what caused it. But the symptom that didn't go away is the fatigue. Never ending, debilitating fatigue. It's just the worst. No matter how much sleep I get, I can sleep 10 hours in one night and I can still hardly lift my head off the pillow in the morning or function throughout the day. It makes me short tempered and unable to enjoy doing fun and productive things with Orlaith. Forget taking her to the playground after school, all I want to do is lie down or sleep.

I had some blood tests done recently with my GP and when I called up for the results I was told everything was normal. I felt like banging my head against a wall. After a few more weeks of research and continued fatigue I requested some different tests. When I went in to see the nurse, she went through my blood work again and noticed that, in fact, everything was not normal. I have a ridiculously low iron count. An iron deficiency. It turns out my GP never even looked at my blood work before I was given the all clear. Got to love the NHS!

I was so relieved to finally know what was causing my fatigue and everything that goes with it. I actually felt really emotional because I knew I could finally start making myself better and stop acting like a really crappy parent.

Since I found out about my iron deficiency I've upped my intake of iron rich foods, started taking my multivitamin daily (instead of once a fortnight) and including lots of vitamin C in my diet to help my body absorb the iron. Of course the body takes time to heal and adjust and all I can do is stuff my face with food medicine and enjoy every morning I wake up with the energy to actually get out of bed without wanting to cry from tiredness.

Of course I'll have to make other changes too to regain some balance in other areas of my life. One step at a time. Do you have any tips on how you stay balanced? 

5 Easy Steps To Eliminate Dairy From Your Diet

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Dairy is bad. Scientific paper after scientific paper reports that dairy is bad for humans to consume. It leads to an increased risk of multiple cancers, leaves us with weaker bones, and countless other problems including IBS, skin disorders such as acne and eczema, and depression.

Dairy cows are treated in inhumane ways, spending their lives attached to uncomfortable machines, artificially inseminated to get them pregnant over and over again so they can continue producing milk, then having their babies taken away from them for the cycle to be repeated again. Dairy cows are routinely given animal grade antibiotics and hormones (which gets passed into the milk then into us) and if they're 'organic' cows and they get mastitis or any other type of infection they are left to suffer without any kind of pain/infection fighting medication leaving the cows in agony and their bloody puss passing into the milk. The human digestive system was not built to digest dairy, and cows were not put on this earth to be strapped to machines. 

My personal journey eliminating dairy has been a long and rocky one.  Giving up something that we've grown up eating is not easy and anyone who does it deserves a medal. It's been four years since I learnt that I was intolerant to dairy, and I can now confidently say that I'm 100% dairy free. I no longer suffer from acne (something I've suffered from severely since I was a teenager and well into my adult life) and (with the help of a meat free diet) my unpleasant journey with depression has all but come to an end. It's pretty amazing that the food we eat can affect us in so many ways.

While change doesn't happen overnight, taking the first step always helps to get you going in the right direction. So here are 5 easy steps to help you begin reducing dairy from your diet. 

1. Educate Yourself
Do some research. Watch some documentaries. Read some books. Get your facts straight and be clear on why you are deciding to reduce or eliminate dairy from your diet. Not only will this arm you with proper information when people question your decision (that's if you wish to explain it at all, some people don't), but by having a clear reason why you want to cut out dairy also helps you stay strong on your dairy free mission. On a side note, some people don't like it when others change their own habits, so be prepared for people to disagree with what you're doing. That's ok. The world would be boring if we all agreed with one another.

2. Switch Your Staples
Picture yourself at home, adding a dash of milk to your coffee and spreading delicious butter on your toast, taking that freshly baked cheese pizza out of the oven or getting the carton of chocolate ice cream out of the freezer for that movie night... I still enjoy all these things without the addition of dairy. And I promise you, the 'substitutes' on offer are good. When friends come to mine I prepare food the same way I prepare it for myself and no one ever notices the difference between my butter and theirs, my cheese and theirs or my ice cream and theirs. In fact, most people comment on how delicious what I've given them is. That's when I usually mention it's dairy free and the news is usually met with surprise.  If the dairy products are not in your house you are not going to eat them. It's as simple as that.

3. Read Food Labels
A friend of mine recently claimed he didn't eat dairy shortly before ordering and eating a croissant from a cafe. It didn't cross his mind that a croissant is made up of something like 50% butter! When you pick up food and drinks from the shops take a moment to read the label at the back. You'll probably be surprised at how many products contain dairy in them! To this day I always do a quick scan of the ingredients before buying because they sneak dairy into everything these days. When you first start this process is can be a bit overwhelming but you soon learn what does and doesn't contain dairy. In the UK they often put dairy ingredients in bold so it's very easy to see it at a glance.

4. Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions
When I first went dairy free I would always choose the most dairy free looking thing on the menu. Well, most of the time it turned up on my plate covered in some kind of creamy sauce that wasn't mentioned on the menu. The easiest thing to do it casually mention that you don't eat dairy and ask if the dish you've selected has any dairy in it. If it does have dairy in it, ask them what else they could recommend that doesn't include dairy. If it's as simple as a buttered bun that gets in your way just ask for the bun to come without butter, or for your fish to be cooked in oil instead of butter. Don't be scared of being a 'fussy' customer, there's usually something you can eat in most restaurants and staff are generally more than happy to assist you with finding something to enjoy.

5. Bring A Dish
When eating at friends houses I never expect them to cater specifically to my dietary requirements. Instead, I always ask if I can bring a dish (no one ever says no). Ask how many people are eating, find out if there's a theme to the food (Italian, barbecue etc.) and make enough so that everyone can have some if they wanted to. No one is ever disappointed by extra food at the table.


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Instagrammin'

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I may not always be very active on my blog but I always try to post at least once a day on instagram. I love creating little square images to capture the things going on in our day to day lives.

There's been a few small tweaks to our lives lately. We've started swimming once a week, I've been painting more consistently, and our diets have changed somewhat (think plant based). I'm making an effort to put my 'to-do' list aside as much as possible and spend quality time with Orlaith and my family, we've been playing lots of chess and enjoying lots of movie nights and days out with friends.

Find me on Instagram: @myfroley

France Weekend | Part II

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A few weeks ago I wrote about a surprise hen weekend that was organised for one of my friends. During the weekend we stayed in a beautiful chateau in a little town called Eynesse in a region of France called Aquitaine where they make lots of beautiful wine.

The weekend involved lots of wine, cheese and food, and a whole lot of relaxing. I unfortunately couldn't partake in the majority of the cheese and food fun because of my annoying dairy intolerance, so my diet over the weekend consisted of lots of bread. And champagne.

It was slightly hard to adjust to the child free life. Because it was such a relaxing weekend there was lots of sitting around and being still, something I'm not used to at all. On day one I really ached for Orlaith, I felt like I was missing something. Then on the last two days I let myself relax and it was just the best and most rewarding feeling.

I never usually get to sit down for long periods of time, I'm always fetching something or participating in a game. Just sitting, relaxing and having adult conversation without having to get up every five minutes was so refreshing and by the end of the weekend I felt like I'd been away for a whole week and my stress levels were so low.

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RECIPE | Sweet Almond Balls

Sweet Almond Balls

I'm slowly taking steps to reduce the amount of refined sugar and flour in my diet. So, instead of those lovely packets of biscuits I'm used to picking up from the shops, these days I try to make my own puddings and sweet treats when I get the chance.

These almond balls are such a winner in my house, the only problem is they are so moreish that every single one gets eaten regardless of how many I've made, so I always have to make them in small batches.


Ingredients:
(makes approximately 8 small balls)

80g ground almonds
1 tbsp manuka honey (or agave syrup)
3-4 tsp water
ground cinnamon


Directions:

If you have a grinding mill grind your almonds (I use the milling blade on the nutribullet for this). Knead the almonds with the honey or agave syrup and water with your hands until you've created a smooth mass. If it's too thick add more water until you're reached your desired consistency.  Form the paste into small balls and roll them in the ground cinnamon. These can be eaten immediately or kept in the fridge to eat later.


Quick Tip:

If you're using agave syrup for this recipe I would try adding less water (1-2 tsp). Manuka honey is thicker and therefore needs a bit more water to soften the paste up. 

Sweet Almond Balls
Sweet Almond Balls


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