Diagnostic diet part 2 and Fibromyalgia 

As promised, I would send you an honest update on how my diagnostic diet is going.  I started before I spoke to the consultant and completely ditched all processed food, so nothing came out of a packet.  I lost 7 lbs in 2 weeks and felt so much better; less fatigue and reduced muscle pain.  

I went into the diagnostic diet for 2 weeks to cut down my diet to a very basic bland hunter gatherer type.  This basically removes all potential foods that could cause a reaction with my nervous system.


You only eat the highlighted foods for the first 2 weeks.  You track your symptoms and at first you feel worse; giving up coffee gave me a migraine.  I lost 12 pounds in 2 weeks!!  

After the first 2 weeks my daily headaches disappeared, my fatigue was reduced, my muscle pain went away and the nerve sensation issues I had like tingling, itching, pain upon touching disappeared.  

I was just coming out of a flare up when I started the diagnostic diet and my sleep was terrible; 7 hours over 3 nights.  I asked for 5 days worth of sleeping tablets and usually they take my sleep from 3/4 hours to 4/5 but this time they worked great.

It took about a week to get over stopping the sleeping tablets (this is why I don’t like to take them)! Now I’m sleeping much better, deeper and longer 5/6.5 hours. 👍

Switching to fresh food only I lost a total of 1 stone and 7lbs in a month and never went hungry.

My moods are better, less extreme and my menstrual cycle was less severe.  I haven’t had digestive issues either.

The next phase of my diet is to slowly start bringing in the rest foods not highlighted on the photo above, one by one and track symptoms.

So far I’ve been able to eat asparagus, grapes, veal, tuna steak and tomatoes.  

I’m still not able to exercise until I’ve finished the next month as this could skew the symptom tracker.

I can’t wait to restart proper exercising as I’m so weak, getting out of breath walking up hill or up or down steps.  I couldn’t even keep up with my 67 year old dad!

It’s not easy as you have to have willpower and you have to track everything; symptoms and weight, which will start to increase if my nervous system reacts to it.

I have a comprehensive stool analysis kit to do and send off but I need to wait till I get paid as it’s £160 for the analysis; 3 collections and I have strict guidelines to follow including mixing with liquids, dealing and posting lol.  I have a list of other tests to do too that I have to pay for as the NHS has refused, simple blood tests.

I am willing to do anything to feel better and the Airedale Allergy Clinic here have done more for me than the NHS have in over 3 years.  The NHS don’t have the funding or support to investigate or locate cures for conditions like Fibromyalgia.  The US are way out front in this area as it’s about making money and a cure or even medications or treatments would rake in millions.  GPs are trained to give us meds and there aren’t any specialists only pain or arthritic specialists available in the UK, we are sent to these for more band aid treatments for our symptoms.  What we need is locating and dealing with the root cause!! 


Feel free to ask me any questions!  Or join my page here for more insights and research sharing.  

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My first consultation at Airedale Clinic

Airdale are a private clinic that specialise in finding out what chemicals and foods affect our immune systems and cause medical problems, treating the root cause rather than masking the symptoms with medications.  You can read more about the great work the clinic do here.

When I was tracking my symptoms with a log I found a number of things that affected my symptoms of fatigue and stress:-

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stress
  • Over doing things
  • Food and drink
  • Chemicals 
  • Hot weather
  • Dehydration
  • Injuries and other painful medical conditions

But some of these things affected each other too, for example certain foods affected my sleep, an injury affects my fatigue etc.

The first consultation was done over Skype to reduce my need to do the 1 1/2 hour round trip to Keighley which I would not have been able to manage.  It was with the Co-Director Dr Apelles Econs, lovely man, very caring and understanding and very knowledgeable about autoimmune disorders and allergies.  He gave me a frank explanation of how fibromyalgia works and affects the nervous system and what can be done to improve symptoms.  I have attached my treatment plan for you to review below:-


I want to share my journey with you to allow you to see what I am trying and what improvements I have.  There is no cure for fibromyalgia and the NHS are only interested in giving us pills and potions to band aid over our symptoms, not to treat the root cause.

The initial consultation was £175 but you can’t put a figure on good health.  The GPs only know how to prescribe meds or do referrals to specialists, but in the UK there aren’t any for fibromyalgia.

I recently had a bad flare up due to injuring my knee falling off a motorbike in training, I actually fractured my knee and again it took 2 months under the creaking NHS to find this out, as I had to wear a leg brace for a month restricting my movement the immobility flared up my fibro and back pain to the worst levels I’ve ever experienced.  

My healthy diet lapsed due to laziness and I put on a stone in weight and felt dreadful.  You are what you eat after all.  I gave myself a kick up the backside and ditched the processed foods and lost 7lbs in 3 weeks, since starting my diagnostic diet as recommended by the Airedale Clinic I’ve lost a further 3 pounds in the last 5 days.  At first I felt lethargic, had bad headaches (gave up coffee), could not sleep at all and my aches and pains got worse.  But I’m now on day 5 and I’m feeling a little better, I was in another mini fibro flare up due to overdoing things at work but I feel the diet is helping me recover quicker.  The only problem I have right now is very bad lower back ache which is hurting every time I remain still, especially when sitting and it’s worse when I lay down.  The only foods I can eat are detailed below, highlighted:-


The diet helps to detect whether food is affecting my condition to track how I react to the natural diet. It is only for 2 weeks and quite frankly I would do anything to feel better, even as one person put it yes I would sell my soul.

This is one of the pages out of my diet book:-


I have also obtained my full list of tests and results to share with the clinic from the NHS and I have a list of potential tests should I want to go ahead with them privately:-


I have ordered the stool test to start with until I know whether I have had any of these on the NHS, which I doubt as the NHS wouldn’t treat the outputs of most of the above tests.

I have a follow up consultation on the 11th to discuss how I’ve felt the diet has gone and discuss next steps.  Thankfully sebsequent consultations are only £90.

I have bought a vitamin B12 spray as this vitamin can help with fatigue, aches and pains, the tablet form is not adequately digested by our systems, but the spray works best, the gold standard are vitamin B12 injections.


I will update you on my progress with honesty and complete openness.  Maybe there is something I am doing that you would like to try.

Please feel free to ask me any questions, my Facebook page is updated on a more regular basis and is available through my blog.

Working with Fibromyalgia 

Let’s be honest life does get much more difficult with Fibromyalgia and it’s hard for people to understand how it feels to have this condition.  I’ve had spinal issues for ten years and had chronic intermittent pain for 6 of those and permanently for the rest.  But I never ever imagined that I could feel so ill all of the time.  

It is only since I started mindfulness meditation that I realised that the pain is not constant, it changes and there are brief moments that I don’t feel any pain.  I do also believe that because our brains and bodies have increased pain sensitivity that we are used to feeling it therefore our brains and nervous systems continue to ramp up the pain.  When I meditate I focus on the areas that hurt the most, which is mostly where I have my fusion.  I slow down my breathing and focus on the area of pain and the area around it and I realise it’s not constant but changeable and I focus on what colours it reminds me of and what shape and contour the areas are.   We are often told by our doctors to ignore the pain and try to keep busy, I find this just stresses me out as I end up only focusing on the pain.  I find by using meditation to focus on the area and acknowledge the pain, making friends with it, realising it’s not constant I feel so relaxed, you can read more here.

Anyway let’s discuss working, some days I often wonder why the hell I put myself through the stress but I’d rather have a reason to get up than be at home depressed and worrying about my body hurting.  My job is very stressful, working with extremely challenging stakeholders and trying to manage my time to work within my limits.  I have had to toughen up and learn to pushback and say no, people constantly try to book long meetings, want me to travel to London (5 hour round trip) for something that could be done over the phone/screen share. There’s an expectation to always be online and work long days constantly attached to your desk, work through lunches and attend lots of meetings,which dramatically reduces productive time to do any actual work.  Meetings are also booked back to back so you end up running from one place to the next and always being late.  
Do not be afraid to speak up about changing your work environment and ways of working.  Here are some of the changes I’ve made to my working week:-

  • Don’t work excessive hours, listen to your body, my fatigue generally takes 48 hours to kick in.
  • Block out lunch breaks, what’s your contracted minimum lunch break?
  • Set your calendar so people know what hours you work.
  • Eat lunch away from your desk, unless you go for a walk at lunch!
  • Don’t be afraid to say no, not everyone’s priority is your priority, negotiate on deadlines.
  • Block out time in your diary to do actual work with a no meetings clause.
  • Switch off your phone and email when working on something to reduce distraction.
  • Book out meeting rooms or ask to work from home when you need quiet time to get stuff done.
  • Make action lists so you don’t miss any deadlines.
  • Don’t stress about things you can’t control, speak to a friendly face and share your concerns, you’d be surprised how helpful someone else can be when they look in from the outside.
  • Book meetings for 25 or 55 minutes giving you time to get to the next meeting and grab a drink or nip to the loo.
  • Make sure you take a healthy lunch and water with you as you need to eat to stay focused.
  • Make sure people factor in breaks to long meetings and especially lunch breaks as you need to rest and eat.
  • Keep weekend work to a minimum don’t let it become the norm.
  • Don’t just say yes to travel, always challenge the need for a face to face meeting, can’t it be done by phone/video conference or a screen share?
  • Have a rule of no meetings till X time, to give yourself time to prepare in a morning.
  • Have a rule of no meetings after X time to allow yourself a reasonable finish time.
  • Work from different positions, could you get a hydraulic desk, I have one and it really does help my back.
  • Block out time before and after meetings to prep or write them up to ensure you stay on top of things.

These are just some of the things I have put in place and I always find that if you’re honest with people and explain why you do the things the way you do, most people are reasonable and understanding.  The ones that aren’t you may have to enlist the help of your colleagues or just stick to your guns.

You are no good to anyone if you end up going off sick.  Many times in the past I’ve pushed myself too much and caused a flare up, now I have learnt the warning signs and I’ve even cancelled meetings as I haven’t felt well, explaining that if I don’t I’ll be off work.  

If you feel you aren’t getting the support you need maybe it’s time to have an honest chat with your boss about your condition or maybe look for another job.  I recently moved out of my old role which I loved as I couldn’t do it anymore, the expectation of being out on the road constantly was impossible.

Put yourself first always even if at first it feels uncomfortable, which it probably will as I know I did. 😉.  You can read more about working with Fibromyalgia here 

Emotions Impact Pain

I never understood the impact of emotions on pain until I studied for my hypnotherapy diploma back in 2013 and then took a pain management diploma last year.  I also didn’t realise how changeable pain is, it isn’t constant and it is controlled by our brain.

When people have a bad accident the emotional state of the patient is critical to recovery which is why medics often give high doses of medicines such as ketamine to relax the patient so that they don’t really know what is happening, reducing the chances of going into shock.

When I went for spinal surgery I was quite emotional knowing it was a 5 hour procedure with a high risk of paralysis or nerve damage, I was shaky and trying to be brave but my consultant and surgical team understood how I was feeling.  They gave me IV Ketamine as they were setting up my heart monitors and getting the operating table ready as I had to lay face down for my operation, I did not care what they were doing to me I laughed hysterically as the drug took effect then fell unconscious, meaning I was not stressed at all whilst they were putting me to sleep.

After surgery I began to notice that the more I fought (in my mind) not actually fighting anyone 😂with the pain that came with developing fibromyalgia and recovering from surgery, the worse it got.

Fibromyalgia increases nervous system sensitivity as well as other other important roles it controls the messages that travel to and from our brain for pain management.  Have you noticed that when you’re sad, upset or in another ‘negative’ mood that pain feels worse, but if someone makes you laugh or you spot something that makes you smile inside the pain reduces, even if it’s a brief respite?  Have you noticed that when you wake up happy and the sun is shining that you wake up feeling less stiff and in less pain?  You might be saying to yourself ‘no’ but you do I assure you, it might not be for long but you will. 

I want you to try something for me, the next time you are feeling happy, are laughing, maybe you’re outside with your family having fun, just stop and do a mental scan of your body and compare it to when you have been in a ‘negative’ mood and I promise you your symptoms will feel much better, reduced, maybe give even forgotten about them!!

This does not mean it’s all in your head, pain is controlled through a complex system involving our nervous system which travels up to our brain through our spinal cord and how the pain is felt depends on the individual, emotions, past memories etc.  Some people can handle lots of pain.  Before my operation my twisting spine was very painful but I still went to work and the gym for 18 months and I had to have my painkillers increased to 20-25 a day until I begged the doctor to do something as none of them worked anymore and fentanyl was looking like the next option and no way was I quitting my job!! But now one little episode of pulling my back, a headache, banging my arm or whatever can quickly become so intense I can end up paralysed in pain or hysterical.

I had a very stressful weekend once dealing with some inappropriate behaviour of some I knew last year and the stress brought on a panic attack, something I’ve not had since I was 17.  I developed a migraine that was so painful I could not see, had to sit in the dark, my heart rate and blood pressure were off the chart.  No medication helped and the ambulance service rushed me to hospital for a potential brain scan.  I was horrified and embarrassed when we realised it was nothing more than a migraine.  Only the 3rd time I’ve ever had one and they had never been that painful, welcome to fibro.

Painkillers are a band aid for pain. Some are very effective but the brain gets used to them and more or stronger versions are needed, not a viable long term strategy for chronic pain.  My painful twisting spine was resolved with surgery but Fibromyalgia is in a league of its own as there is NO cure and not a pill that will keep the symptoms successfully under control long term.  

The nervous system is complex, feel free to read more about how it works here. I not only talk from being a qualified hypnotherapist and pain management therapist but someone who has Fibromyalgia.  I believe the messages/chemicals that are supposed to travel back from our brain to our nerves during pain do not work properly and no operation or pill is going to cure such a complex system.  Even if they did invent something to help at what cost would this be to our health.  All medications give side effects as they change our mind and bodies state.


I know some of you are desperate for a cure and hate having this condition and let me be honest I’d give a limb if I thought I could get rid of it but I can’t.  So I do the next best thing and accept it is part of me, fibro will never go away and me and my fibro (I’m thinking of giving it a pet name) have to coexist and get on.  Like you might have to with a naughty sibling or a demanding irritating boss at work.

Learn from your experiences; the most powerful skill you can learn is how to control pain, how to reduce the length of time a flare up lasts and how you react to both of these! 

My flare ups are rare and they don’t last longer than the same day they occur as I use my mind to help me get through it.  I can’t stop all flare ups as I want to live, I want to work, I want to go out with my family and I want to have holidays, but I can change how I feel about them.

My top tips for dealing with pain:-

  • Remember it will pass, pain changes and is not constant, it is like a volume control on a radio and you can change it in any direction you want.
  • Stay positive, if you are struggling then have a good cry and then do something to make you laugh.
  • Exercise helps and reduces pain long term whilst releasing endorphins like a natural anti depressant.
  • Stay away from fibromyalgia support pages that focus on negativity as this will NOT help you at all.  
  • Try yoga, not once but every day for just 5-10 minutes.  Have you ever met a miserable unhappy yoga teacher?  No of course not.  It’s relaxing and gives you focus and mental clarity.
  • Only temporarily increase painkillers then cut back asap.  Remember these are not the solution, they are a band aid.
  • Listen to music, meditate, undertake self hypnosis to lift your mood, clear your head, take you to your happy place 😊
  • This last one might sound crazy but I actually use my headspace app and focus my breathing through the area that hurts and it changes the pain.

One last thing do not sit and stew about the pain as this will feel increase the pain.  Talk to someone and if you haven’t got anyone you are more than welcome to talk to me 😁

Pain flare ups with fibromyalgia

I find there are a few reasons our bodies hurt, for me I’ve put them in to 3 categories:-

  • Psychological; for instance when I get stressed or I am under pressure, say from work, my brain then relays this into physical pain into my weak spots – my spine.
  • Not using pacing; doing too many activities and not resting enough, again my brain warns me by creating physical pain, mostly into my weak spots, my spine or all over aches and pains in my muscles or skin pain by touch, allodynia.
  • An injury, say from twisting my body or falling over.  I find that with fibro I hurt a lot by just simple acts I performed before I had fibro which might never have caused any lasting pain.

It’s important to understand which of these we feel during a flare up.  For example when I developed fibromyalgia and I didn’t know I had it and I was sure I had another serious problem with my back.  The pain was actually my heightened sensitivity to pain and the fact I was trying to undertake lots of activities such as before I had back surgery.  But when I learnt I had developed fibro I realised that my back did not need further investigation and that I had to learn to pace myself and I understood that my brain was increasing the pain signals through my nervous system instead of in a non fibro sufferer reducing the pain signals.  

An example would be falling and hurting your ankle with a sprain that Fibromyalgia could increase the pain and symptoms such as touch and to feel more like a break.  It took my sprained ankle 2 years to heal instead of a normal 3-9 months, even for a bad sprain!

Plus when you understand how pacing works, you can begin to understand your limits and reduce activities to a level that flare ups are rare and manageable.  Keeping logs and diaries are a great way to help you learn about your condition, body and reduce the boom or bust scenarios.  Please read here for more information. 


The above shows you how boom or bust works and learning to pace activities will help to reduce or even eliminate these.

Now I’m not an expert, I came home yesterday in tears as I pushed myself too hard this week at work.  I called my new manager and asked to come and see me this week as I needed to talk through my new role, his and my expectations and make it clear I will not risk my health for work.  He agreed and seemed generally caring, which is a start.

I have tried to deal with fibromyalgia by popping pain pills but this treatment does not work.  Eventually our brains get used to them and then you have to keep moving onto stronger medications.  I weaned off 5 tablets and now find that I deal with fibro much better by just taking them during flare ups, as they seem to actually work and the rest of the time I use a holistic approach, I’ll give you a brief run down of done of the things I use:-

  • Regular massage
  • Magnesium flakes in my bath
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Pacing, spreading out activities with regular rest
  • I use a hydraulic desk and spinal chair at work so I can work standing and sitting
  • Heat, I have hot water bottles everywhere
  • I take a varied amount of natural minerals and vitamins
  • I use positive affirmations all the time, by saying out loud positive things such as I love mornings, I am going to have a great day today
  • I use essential oils in a device click here

I am not sure where you are on your journey with fibromyalgia, but if you understand why you get flare ups and increased pain you can learn to reduce or remove these episodes.