Dealing with Chronic Disease

Looking for tips for healthy eating? Look no further. Just the other day I received this touching email from one of my readers Nicole, a young woman dealing with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I won’t get started on the health insurance aspect of her words. Sometimes that issue is absolutely heart breaking.

In any event, as you will see below, Nicole has written to me for advice on what to eat. In spite of this site, I am a very boring eater.

My husband makes fun of me at dinner time when I eat an entire 2 heads of steamed broccoli (with this yummy Mustard Marmalade Dressing of course), all the while chomping away like a rabbit and teasing him that I need to get my 5-9 servings of produce every day (neurotic, I know). Of course I have a decent helping of protein with said broccoli and do so at every meal. More on that later, let’s get to Nicole and her lovely epistle:

Hey Elana,

I first want to say that I absolutely love your website and recipe ideas. My name is Nicole and I am 20 years old, and I am looking for your advice.

I am currently saving up money to treat my Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I am doing this because I have aged out of my parent’s insurance. I recently got a job, the first one since my illness, and have been working the best that I can to save up.

I love food, and have gone grain free for the passed 3 months to help me lessen the symptoms of my illnesses while i work. Being that i am so tired all the time, and work takes the energy that i do have, i am finding myself slipping into my old eating habits because i don’t have the energy to prepare my meals anymore. I am also completely boring myself with my lack of ideas. If i eat one more salad, or one more plate of grilled chicken with veggies, i think i just might lose it!

You mentioned that you were grain free. So i am curious if there are any tips you have, or any ideas, on how i can still eat grain free, VERY low sugars/fruits, and still have time to sleep,so that i don’t want to eat every grainy, sugary food in my wake. I sadly, almost purchased a package of Oreo’s and was going to admit defeat while watching Pride and Prejudice. I was even going to dunk them in milk, which i also have been avoiding. So you can see, I am coming VERY close to undoing all my hard work.

My main problem is also breakfast, because the standard omelet or anything egg just DOESN’T fill me at all. I have to tell you, I am a hungry hungry girl in the morning, and without grains as an option, i am losing ideas. Any advice you could give would more than help me I’m sure.

Thanks so much for your time reading this novel of a question,


First of all, I think what Nicole is dealing with is common for so many of us. We live in a world of processed junk food and are likely addicted to foods that aren’t so good for us until we break the habit. At least that’s what I’ve found to be the case for myself. We often crave the foods we are allergic to and this is called an allergic-addiction. Quite a lot of interesting information on this can be found in the book, Dangerous Grains.

Anyway, on to some solutions (and confessions). And you might not be very impressed. At all. An ideal day for me consists of eating the same meal for dinner, then breakfast and lunch the next day. This meal repetition saves a lot of time and I also find it strangely comforting. It’s not boring though because I use so many flavors in the dishes that I make. I love to snack on nuts and berries (goodness, that sounds so puritanical and annoying, I do apologize).

While I have gluten free junk food in my house for the boys, after years of going without it, I do not have cravings anymore. It takes time. And remember, patience, as so many of us are dealing with chemical cravings to sugar or other substances of choice that we might not feel so great eating. When I look at the stuff instead of thinking of a good sugar buzz, my brain somehow automatically goes to the migraine that I would get after that. My goal in dealing with both celiac disease and multiple sclerosis is to eat as clean as I can and to have as much energy as I can to keep up with my boys.

I would say that it is this passion (for them and for living) which helps to keep me focused on my goal.

When I do get cravings I find myself munching on organic fruit sweetened dried cranberries –I am obsessed with everything cranberry right now.

I have read books that claim that MS (and other disease) symptomology can be kept in check with diet. In particular, the book The Gift of Remission espouses this way of living and eating.

However, I know this way is not for everyone.

I do want to post a couple of yummy menu items that might help Nicole (and you) out. This week is so busy that I will be making a double batch of Ina’s Grilled Lemon Chicken and stretching it into 2 nights of dinners, plus my breakfast and lunch. I’ve been making double dinners this whole week since it is a zany one and I’m out of the house so much.

You’ll notice I incorporate fruit with my meals. I like to do this as I feel more satisfied after eating a meal with something sweet in it.

I hope this post is helpful to you, Nicole and others who may be dealing with similar situations. This is just the way I do things, it is what works for me and simplifies my life. It may have no baring on anyone else’s. Just my humble offerings. Enjoy and laugh at it if you must :-)


  1. Brenda says

    Hello Elana:

    I have been across your site before, during the last few years of snatch and grab. I just had the opportunity to notice the cute little dog. Then the hyperbaric machine caught my eye. I read the article and starting running for everything I could find that might give me something on fibro advancement, once again. It seems like all I have done for the past five years since I was diagnosed. I have other problems that just kind of “Ring Around the Rosie” this ailment so there really is no one real way to help myself since no one doctor can really say what is wrong with me, and stick to it. My pain is under control, I take 13 medications and 12 supplements and struggle to have any real sort of life at all.

    Everyone keeps telling me – diet and exercise. Well, I do not have any energy so exercise is not feasible, and I have little to no appetite, so diet is just as much of a struggle. I was looking over your site, and I noticed you had recipes, but when I went under “the what”, well I really could not pick a problem, and then when I went under “the kind”, I could not figure out what I needed to be eating per the type of foods.

    I thought about ordering your Paleo book, and trying to work from there as I have a couple of family members who would really appreciate some meat. I can throw a potato, rice, or any vegetable along with that and they both would be happy. The problem, is me. What should I be eating? No one really knows. I have been thinking about yoga or barre, for the longest time. Just don’t have energy. We have gone to the driving range, and golfed a few times, but that is about it. We don’t do putt-putt anymore since it takes a while to get around, and if I get tired, well we live in a very unforgiving world. So I try to stay to a happy medium in which we control. It’s difficult but my youngest child is 15, and she helps out as much as possible, and tries not to get too down when ole mom just can’t, well can’t. So, I was hoping, for the sake of my family, you might have some recommendations on the catch all category for someone disease and diet wise? I only eat about once a day, and that is usually at dinner. I just don’t have an appetite and I don’t eat unless I get hungry. So , any help is most appreciated. Thanks.

    • Elana says

      Hi Brenda, sorry to hear how challenging things are! Here are a couple simple suggestions:

      1. elimination diet
      2. exercise –start by walking 5 minutes per day and over a one year period work up to 60 minutes. Do not over-exert :-)
      3. sleep — see my post on natural sleep remedies

      I hope this helps and trust me, I know what you are going through. Been there myself, if that gives you any hope.


  2. Nicky says

    Dear Elena,

    I recently found your website and recipes several months ago. I am a disabled woman with Autism and Second Generation Agent Orange Poisoning(causes many strange health issues with body). I am on a very strict and limited diet. I tried your recipe for Paleo Bread (had to change the vinegar to lemon juice) and am a big fan of it grilled. My dog Mia absolutely loves it, too. Thanks for sharing.

  3. says

    You can try cottage cheese (look for low sodium one) with plain yougurt for breakfast. It has a lot of proteins. I also add some berries. Berries have planty of anti-oxidants and do not raise your blood sugar so fast as other fruits.

  4. Tammy Lou McIlwain says

    It is very hard to switch from eating anything you want to only the things you should be eating. I am also a morning eater-since I changed my eating habits- and it’s a hard one when you are gluten, dairy, starch and grain free. I have found a tasty and filling breakfast, for me anyway. It’s easy if you have a coffee grinder to zip the nuts and seeds in. I buy hazelnut flour and use that as a base. Then add ground flax and chopped almonds. All you need is a few heaping teaspoons. I add raisins or any fruit and coconut milk. Hot or cold it’s yummy. I poach my eggs which seem to fill me more than fried or scrambled(and they’re healthier that way :). I throw it right on top of the nut cereal!! Gives me energy and my body is happy!

    Elana is right that the longer you keep to what is better for your body the more natural it is and you actually start craving the fresh foods that are keeping your chronic disease/s under control! Besides the fact that when you backslide the repurcussions are immediate to your system and make you miserable. I crave squash and carrots like I used to crave pizza – well….I do have a recipe for that also! Happy eating and good health to you. Tammy Lou

  5. Kim Trimbo says

    Hi Elana,

    Does The Gift of Remission cover the topic of eliminating all grains? (I just ordered this book and Going Against the Grain). If not, could you please tell me why you have eliminated rice from your diet or refer me to a source? I have been GF and dairy free (except for butter, I tested okay with butter doing applied kinesology) for a long time now. I have CFS and IBS and a friend was recently diagnosed with MS. I met Julia from Adaba foods the other day and she mentioned you and that you were grain free. I am just trying to determine if giving up all grains (I love rice)! would help me (or her) in recovering.
    Thank you!

  6. alison says

    I just stumbled upon this website, doing a search for “how to roast winter squash” … but HAD to look at the other, more recent postings too. As someone suffering from food allergies, sensitivities and chronic illness, I think I will benefit a lot from visiting this site in the future.

    My love of (and therefore battle against) cow-dairy (goat is still ok) has gone on for years, and that’s the one food issue I’ve been dealing with the best of late! I am looking forward to gleaning helpful advice from this blog and the other readers. Elana, everything looks marvelously delicious, and your readers seem to be phenomenally supportive people! I feel fortunate to have found your blog.

  7. Gurtee says


    I too suffer from Fibromyalgia and CRS. For years I suffered daily. I couldn’t see past the present day, I was just hoping to have the energy to get through it. Last year I had some food allergy testing with a Kinesiologist. I discovered that not only was I allergic to gluten, dairy, corn, soy etc. etc. I was also nightshade sensitive. Nightshades include potato, tomato, peppers, eggplant and tobacco. These nightshades cause bloating, swelling of the joints and pain. It has not been easy, but with elimination of these foods, I am virtually pain free and medication free. I eat as clean a diet as possible and have lost 50lbs. Mainstream medicine either medicates or thinks your crazy when presenting fibromyalgia. Do not waste your money on them. See a holistic doctor or a kinesiologist and take back your life. Gurtee

  8. says

    Elana – I read Nicole’s email to you and my heart goes out to her. It is difficult to be gluten and lactose intolerant. I would comment to her that she should explore the raw food section of her local natural food store. it sounds to me like she wants convenience and the raw food section has great gluten free granolas, raw food cookies, and other items that incorporate a lot of nut based items that may satisfy her cravings for grains. The other thing that I personally do is set aside some time on Sunday to cook up a huge pot of a veggie soup or stew or chili, including beans for protein. Then I put the soup or stew in portion size containers which I then have on hand for the week. it is so easy to come home and pop some soup in a pot or the microwave and dinner is ready. and I know it is fresh and nutritious – not processed. a little bit of time on Sunday makes life so easy the rest of the busy, busy week. Morning smoothies do the trick too! please tell Nicole t!
    o hang in there. Life is great and it is worth the effort to be healthy.
    Thanks for a great website. Kathy

  9. Liz says

    Hi there!
    This may not be for everyone, but I’d just like to share my (Dad’s) omelette recipe with you. I find that it not only fills me but lets me be very active for hours before I feel hungry again. I am 6’2″, gluten intolerant and am inclined to hyperglycemia if I don’t fuel my body carefully. It does contain cheese though.

    1 onion, finely sliced
    1-2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
    3 eggs, beaten and seasoned with salt & pepper to taste
    fresh herbs of choice, chopped
    grated cheese

    Saute the onions for a couple of minutes (until soft), then throw in the tomatoes. Tip in the eggs, sprinkle on the herbs and a little cheese.
    I fold it in half once the base is cooked, to let it cook through. Sometimes is falls apart. Sometimes it doesn’t. But I always tastes great and keeps me going.

    It’s not for everyone, but I find that making it with vegies, extra eggs and no milk works for me and might be good for someone else too.

  10. Nan says

    To me, the MOST important sentence Elana wrote in her excellent post was this, “We often crave the foods we are allergic to and this is called an allergic-addiction.”

    I learned this years ago from Dr. Doris Rapp, M.D. a pediatric allergist who wrote, “Is This Your Child?” I credit that book with saving my life.

    I find that a small scoop of raw cashews helps satisfy the bread urge. They are sweet, nutty, nutritious and filling. Make sure they are not processed in a facility that also processes wheat.

    Also, you can add raw or lightly roasted almonds to foods.

    Be careful of overdoing sugars in dried fruit.

    In addition to Elana’s recipes and book ideas, I find good ideas in: The World’s Healthiest Foods.
    It teaches you the best way to bring out nutrients in foods and most of the methods are E-Z! For instance, the best way to cook sweet potatoes is to steam them. This takes just 10 minutes! Slap a little butter on ’em and they make a fine breakfast food.

    Also…check out Jessica Black’s, The Anti Inflammation Diet. From that book I figured out that potatoes and tomatoes cause inflammation (pain) in my body. Eliminating them spared me a back surgery. (Sweet potatoes are in the morning glory family they ARE NOT related to regular potatoes which can be inflammatory.)

    My point? Don’t just look at grains as the culprit; learn how to identify which foods *might* be inflammatory for you. For some it is nightshades, for others grains or eggs or dairy or soy…

    Where do you start? Look at the foods you are craving. That isn’t an absolute but it is a good starting point.

    And listen to your body. Just because one person can tolerate agave and honey, doesn’t mean another can (and so on.)

    I know, it isn’t fun, but whenever I feel cheated I look at photos of orphans who live on the streets and huff glue to numb the pain of living in the sewers, or at pictures of young Nepalese girls who are sold by their families into servitude at kindergarten age. Then I set aside a little bit of money or goods for those less fortunate. I am lucky. I am free. I can afford food. I have internet. :^D

    You may feel overwhelmed. THat’s normal. Take all this information bit-by-bit. It helps to write it down and go through it step-by-step. Trust your instincts to guide you. You sound like a mature young lady.

    Thanks to everyone who posted, I have gleaned some helpful ideas.

    Elana, you’re a sparkly gem.

  11. says

    Breakfast doesn’t have to mean “breakfast foods”. Are there any meals that you make that help you to feel energetic and full? Eat those.

    I love using my slow cooker because it makes life a lot easier. Just throw things in and walk away. You’ll return to find a fantastic meal. I agree with the others who suggested spending time cooking on the weekend/Sunday to ensure that you’re stocked up for the week. A soup, stew or curry can go a long way.

    It’s absolutely tough, but keep your head up and work towards having a positive attitude! When I feel frustrated with my food choices, I remind myself of how good I feel when I eat the way that I do. For me it comes down to feeling good or feeling bad and I every day I work towards feeling good.

  12. charlotte says

    I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue syndrome. My experience turned out to be severe candida overgrowth. After researching the connections of Candida and Fibromyalgia I did the home “spit test” and it resulted in a strong possibility of Candida. I decided to try Fivelac probiotic (a Japanese product) and Vitamin B12 supplements…I started expelling the candida within a few days, and after 2 weeks all my pain was gone and my energy was back. I did not need medical intervention anymore and now live a normal life….unfortunately many doctors will not acknowledge this connection nor will they test for it. Sad how modern medicine snubs at this reality…I’m living proof that getting rid of Candida can help overcome Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue…

  13. says

    Wow to everyone who is contributing to Nicole. I’m lucky, I have energy and no known ailments but have familial genetics that predispose me to several. I have watched my diet for years until I astonishingly got pregnant. After it took forever to give up the dairy, sourdough and all the foods that drain my energy, I recently was referred to Elana’s Pantry. This is a place of nurturance, support, ideas, creativity and learning. I’m so thrilled to be a part of such a conscious community. Eating healthy is not to be taken lightly and many have chosen the easy way… but more and more are realizing easy may not be healthy and making time for “me” is important. To quote a friend, “If you don’t take care of your inside, where ya gonna live?”
    I’ve learned so much. Thank you Nicole, Elana, and everyone else.

  14. Liz says

    Thank you for thist post. Ditto was everyone else said. I make all of my meals for the week over the weekend (with the exception of a couple of dinners). I make this my priority and have jsut decided to be ok with not studying or working as much as I think I should. After all, I won’t be able to study or work at all if my health issues flair up and eating well is one way I take care of myself. It takes me a while to make all of my food, however, because I get tired in the heat of cooking. So I have to take a lot of breaks in another room with a cold glass of water.

  15. Lindsey says

    Hi Nicole,

    I am 28 years old and have had various health problems throughout my life also. In high school I developed CFS and had the hardest time being a normal teenager. I’ve been so sick for the last 10 years that I’ve become obsessed with health information and tried so many different fads to help. Here is a list of what I think are the most important items to help and a couple to beware of.

    -Educate yourself as much as possible on what illnesses could be associated with your symptoms and be prepared when you visit a doctor (also be careful what type of doctor you see, b/c not all are in agreement about some little-understood illnesses like CFS and some may just blow you off even). Keep a list of your symptoms, no matter how trivial seeming (for example, my swell as the day progresses… weird, right? But my doctor thought it was connected to my inability to regulate heat very well, which is connected to both thyroid and mitochondrial disorders.) Keep a list of possible causes for your illness – don’t assume you have a different illness for each symptom, but don’t assume it is all one great big illness that can be solved in one swoop. You might have a couple issues that play off each other and exacerbate each other. The better informed you are, the more attention and care you can demand from a doctor when you see one. Demand that they run comprehensive tests on you (another example – my previous primary care doctor did a thyroid blood test and found it normal, my new integrative medicine doctor did a thyroid blood test and found abnormal reverse t3 levels, which interferes with t4 and t3 – my previous doctor only checked t4 levels, my new doctor checked everything – and the full panel doesn’t even cost more money).

    -Make your primary goal taking care of yourself. This may sound silly, since you’re obviously trying to take care of yourself, but I mean it on multiple levels. First, make sure you sleep, eat, dress, bathe, laugh, have sex, read, whatever makes you happy, etc. But taking care of yourself is really an attitude also, where you don’t guilt-trip yourself for having a bad episode or for not living up to the restrictive diet you need to be on. Ask your significant other for foot massages, give yourself one if you have tough thumbs, allow yourself to feel grumpy and frumpy without shame, sit and stare at a plant or out the window all day long without feeling guilt or pressure to do something productive, buy yourself something special (yet relatively inexpensive) on occasion, like cute new mittens or a fabulous Oxo non-spill sealing thermal mug or a wooden roller to massage your feet. It may not work miracles, but at least when you start to feel the pressure of so much illness, exhaustion and pain weighing down on you, you’ll know that at least there is one person who always takes care of you.

    -Use the trick of substitutions to eliminate your cravings. A lot of posters who say that once you go off certain foods long enough, you never crave them again are totally right – but it takes a long time to get there, especially at the beginning! The best tip I can give you is to make sure that you indulge your cravings with a substitute that is okay for you to eat. For example, I bought gluten/dairy-free pizza crusts from a local bakery and top it w/ whatever I want – think of your favorite pizza toppings and switch it up every few nights (as a note, although I am dairy intolerant, I have no problems whatsoever with goat cheese, so use a goat mozzarella on my pizza toppings – it may cost more than cow mozzarella, but if you use less, it is less fat anyway and still just as tasty). The first week that I went strict gluten-free, I made pasta every single day from a gluten-free brand that uses a rice, quinoa and amaranth blend – and I got that in my supermarket! For breakfast-food type cravings, I have started making some muffins based on a recipe Elana gave and it works wonders for me – I am fuller in the mornings and haven’t craved any gluten-type items in a long time b/c it feels like I am eating them everyday – my taste butds don’t know it is almond and coconut flour, but my intestines do! Instead of ice cream or soy cream or rice cream, I have started buying Luna & Larry’s coconut milk ice cream, most of which is either not sweetened or sweetened with agave – they don’t use cane sugar, which is fabulous for eating something sweet like ice cream without actually eating any dairy or sugar. I’m sure that you and other posters can come up with more examples that suit you specifically, but hopefully you get the overall idea – don’t deny yourself b/c it will just send you into a spiral or cravings, indulgence, pain and regret. Sounds extreme, but addiction is real. If you can feed the addiction with substitutes that don’t wreak havoc on your body, your mind will be able to calm down and accept your new diet changes more easily.

    -Try multiplying your recipes by 4 or 6 and freezing half to cut down on the time you have to cook. Cooking dinner for a week will definitely take a lot longer than cooking dinner for one night, but then the other 5-6 nights, you won’t have to cook at all. And I suggest that you wait for days where you have more energy and take advantage of those days to do your cooking. It may feel painful that you don’t spend your leisure time on a Sunday morning relaxing, but if that’s when you finally have an hour of energy, make your food for the week then and visualize yourself relaxing for the rest of the week instead of worrying about food. Numerous sizes of tupperware and a big soup pot (or crock pot if you prefer) helps this process along. I really like to make a red lentil w/ carrots, celery, kale, onion and canned diced tomatoes that takes less than an hour to prepare/cook/clean/etc. and feeds myself and my spouse for 5-6 nights (that’s 10-12 nights for just you!) and provides well-rounded nutrition. If you have an idea for what you like to eat, but don’t know how to make it, look up recipes until you find one easy enough to try.

    -Try supplements and vitamins, but beware of fad “miracle cures”. For example, I got this book on the benefits of colon cleansing and thought that it had to be true b/c he made so much sense and used so many personal testimonials and used science-y things like testing the ph of your urine, but $400 and one month later, I was no better off than before – a lot of people may report that it helps, but very few people with life-changing illnesses like CFS or Fibromyalgia have ever benefited from such crap, indicating it may really just be a placebo. There is so much woo like this out there in alternative medicine b/c traditional Western medicine has been so dismissive to “strange” problems like CFS or celiac, so a lot of people are desperate for help and get very wrapped up in hoping that this next new fad is going to be it, the one true thing they need… This goes back to the point about educating yourself, but knowing all sides about some supplement/vitamin/fad/miracle cure/etc. may save you lots of money and time and exhaustion. In terms of vitamins/supplements, I recently started taking B12, CoQ10 and D-ribose together and have had an amazing change in energy. I noticed that something was definitely better the other night when I came home from work and was able to jump up and down at some good news instead of just nod my head and say yeah, great. Jumping up and down! :)

    Anyway, it may take time and money, which is all at a premium when you have CFS and don’t have a cushy trust fund. Be patient and gentle with yourself and know that if you keep looking for solutions, you’ll get there eventually – and when you get there, the trouble will have been so worthwhile b/c you’ll finally feel like you have your life back!

  16. oakie says


    You may want something simple for breakfast like sliced organic banana with 2 T of pumpkin seeds, 2T sunflower seed, 2T of dried gogi berries, 2T of almond and if you don’t like dry maybe juiced your organic apple or oranges and pour it on to eat like a cereal. I was initially diagnosed with CFS and couldn’t find any doctors who can help me, but in May of 2006 I removed my massive mercury filling that were in my root canaled tooth and my health turned better. In Feb. of 2008, while I was spending winter in FLorida (it was a place that bordered the state park) in hopes of really getting my health boost up, I was bitten my ticks along with my 3 dogs and we all came down with lyme disease. I used to jog every morning and play golf regularly and all came to halt. I thought after battling lyme disease for 9 months that I was better, but this late June, I came down really sick and my white blood cell count came down way below normal range. It’s been tittering just below the normal range prior to that. I have been at home for 4 months and when I go out I pick everything up. I get dizzy, headaches, numbness, weird tongue pain and sensation and have been having some eye problem and of course fatigue. Then I came across about MSG and hidden label at and and was shocked to my find 90% of pantry was filled with MSG products even things that said organic had it. I gave up everything that said MSG in 2001 and didn’t think I had any, but they were all in hidden labels. I orginally thought I had celiac and went on gluten free diet, but I would get better and than sick again. I realized once I visited the websites, that it’s the MSG that were really making me sick. I was weak to cook, so I ate canned fruit and tuna and all of cans stuff contains MSG under hidden names. It’s been 2 weeks since I gave up MSG and it has helped me tremedously. I’m still not 100% and my white blood cell count did come up but is still below normal range (but I’m getting there and I hopeful it will). Elana’s website has been very helpful to me to make alternative meals and ideas. There some things I can’t use and consistantly have to refer to label and check and make sure it contains no MSG under hidden name like citric acid or natural flavoring, but gluten free diet is closest you can get to stay away from MSG. Since I gave up MSG, I do not feel hungry all the time. I used to eat a meal and an hour or so later. I feel weak and was consistantly craving for food. I thought it was because I didn’t have enough protein intake. Now, I get full on healthy salad and hardly snack. It does take awhile for your body to break away from the addiction of the bad food and MSG and if you have not fully done so previously, it probably will take about a full month before you noticed how awful those food are and will not want to touch it. The other idea for breakfast may be that you make batch of MacCann’s steel cut oatmeal (since it take about 30-40mins) and warm it up in the morning – it still taste good. You can eat it with fruit and little bit of honey. I also take honey pollen in the morning which gives you some protein and energy for rest of the day. 2 supplements that helped me most with MSG issue have been tyrosine(I was having hypothyroid symptoms even though test says normal) and taurine (gives energy and help detox your body from bad stuff like MSG). I take L-Carnitine and Alpha lipioc acid. I also take co q10 (but the gelatin capsule and gels contains MSG and I squeeze it out of there). I haven’t been able to find mutli-vitamins that doesn’t contain MSG or aspartate yet and had to give up what I was taking. Even my toothpaste and shampoo had MSG in it. SInce I gave all the things that had MSG, my tongue has been feeling much better and my eyes are better.

  17. Annette says

    Hello Nicole!
    I had an undiagnosed case of Lymes Disease, Babesia and Bartonella for three years and was getting all kinds of dignosis for diseases with no known cause or cure until I finally figured it out on my own. Something that REALLY helped me get better was five-element style acupuncture and Chinese herbs prescribed specifically for me by a trained herbalist. (very important to go with someone who knows what they’re doing!) There is a wonderful acupuncture school near me in Maryland that has a “find an acupuncturist” feature. If you can find good health insurance–a PPO it will probably be covered. And ask at your job about the Federal Flexiable Health Spending Account. It takes money out of your pay for health needs before taxes. When I did it I was having $100 taken out but my take-home pay only decreased by $50….so it was totally worth it. Good luck with everything!!!

  18. says

    I have found some interesting connections with chronic health issues and the work of Dr. Elaine Aron on “The Highly Sensitive Person”. I find that there are ways that we can set up boundaries in every area of our life, in what we eat as well as how we interact with others, our emotions, intellect, etc. I have find amazing improvements with chronic health issues of myself and my clients when utilizing this holistic approach. Please see more about this here:

  19. c k white says

    I feel compelled to share some of my story. I am a 52 year old woman diagnosed with “fibromyalgia” when I was 25. For over 25 years I endured flares, unrelenting exhaustion & all that goes with it. After a “flare” 2 years ago that left me unable to walk, I was actually diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called “Ankylosing Spondylitis”. The disease I have had since my first “flare” when I was 25 & it has worn my body down…I urge all women with “Fibro” symptoms, especially pain in the sacrum, inflammed joints or muscle pain or achilles tendonitis to do some research & make sure your diagnosis is correct. This disease was always considered a “male” disease & now they are finding out different. is a very valuable & informative website. And to Elana: Thank you for making it so much easier & tastier for those of us trying to follow a healthier path. Much health & hope to all.

  20. Emily says

    Hi again!
    I thought I would leave a few tips of my own since everyone is chiming in with such helpful hints. I am so thankful for this thread of comments, these energy saving ideas are going to help me as well! Hope the rest of you are finding more good ideas from each other. I love our little comment community!
    Ok Nicole, hope these help :)
    First off, several people have already mentioned some of the things I do to save time and/or making a “poor” food choice (eating something that will make me sick). One of the easiest things to cook is roast chicken (Elana has some fantastic recipes for roast chicken); the chicken basically cooks itself after popping it in a pan into the oven and it turns out SO divinely yummy when it’s finished. Besides that, it gives you lots of leftovers. I usually pull it all apart after dining on some and put half in a glass jar to keep in the fridge and the other half in individual serving sizes, wrapped in baking paper then put into a ziploc freezer bag, into the freezer. This way, I have some fresh in the fridge for snacking if I feel my blood sugar getting low, or as part of my next few meals. The frozen servings come in SO handy for when I come home from work/school/being away and am ravishing for food. Instead of grabbing something that will make me feel bad later, I grab a serving of chicken. Pop it into my steamer (over the stove) with some veggies and it’s defrosted in less than 5 minutes.
    Another energy saver I love to do– when you come home from the farmer’s market or grocery store, wash and prep ALL produce before putting it away. I do not always do this because I feel so tired after grocery shopping but it makes such a difference when I do. If I have veggies prepped and ready to eat or cook, I am so much less likely to eat 3 bananas and half a jar of almond butter for a snack. So for example, rinse and break apart broccoli and cauliflower into florets, then store in a container in the fridge. Then when you want to cook it, all you would have to do is throw it on the steamer! Rinse lettuce greens and dry (Elana has a post on this called McKale) and store in fridge. Chop peppers, carrots, etc and store in jars filled with water to keep fresh. Wash apples, fruits, etc. I know produce is “less fresh” when you pre-chop it, but I eat so much of it, and eat it up faster when it’s all ready- it’s usually gone in a few days so it doesn’t matter.
    Also I like making high protein, low sugar bars (like Elana’s Power Bars) and freezing them individually so when I am going out for a few hours I can pop one in my purse (in a baggy) and it’s defrosted by the time I need it.
    Breakfast ideas are tough without grains; I know it’s hard! I am new to grain free as well and I can say I hope it gets easier. It will eventually I am sure! Just like I don’t even crave bread anymore since I haven’t had it in about 4 years! Protein and good fats plus some healthy carbs are great for breakfast. A big plate of chicken w/ diced avocado on top and some roasted squash = yummy. Salmon and sautéed veggies = delicious! I almost always crave something sweet in the mornings; a few tricks I use to get that sweetness without the actual sugar are coconut oil and cinnamon. These 2 flavors trick my taste buds into thinking my food is sweet. Try cooking a pumpkin or butternut squash and purring it in a blender. Then add cinnamon and vanilla extract (even a little stevia if you like lots of sweet) and that is a scrumptious sweet treat right there! You can also add almond milk to that mixture and freeze it for a bit to get a pumpkin ice-cream-like treat. Sautéing veggies like carrot and zucchini (any mild flavored veggies) in coconut oil also gives a sweet flavor. Squash fries (winter squash cut up into matchsticks, rubbed in oil, baked at ~425) with cinnamon sprinkled on them are a good one too.
    Anyway, I have typed a huge long story now, I also asked Elana to please send you my email if you’d like to chat more; I am living with autoimmune illness and relate to you so well! Looks like you’re going to make lots of new friends from this post. I pray good health for you and God’s blessings! <3 Take care

  21. Christiane says

    Hi Nicole, I’d also like to suggest you have your adrenals and thyroid tested, by an osteopath or specialist in this area who would use Genova Diagnostics or some other equally comprehensive test. I just read the book “America Exhausted” which did a great job of explaining the energy cycle and links between diet, exercise, sleep, hormone deprivation and sugar levels. It would be a good thing to read before you go to the doctor so you know what to ask and what your doctor should be talking about. All the best to you. These recipes look delicious!

  22. Sandra says


    Please look into fructose intolerance. I struggled for years to find the root of all my ailments – and it was fructose. I am now unable to eat fruits, most veggies, whole grains, etc.

    I eat mostly homemade french bread (made with white flour), homemade baked goods (using white flour and dextrose), cheese and meats. You need to watch out for added sugars in all products, including meats.

    It probably sounds like an anti-healthy diet, but I assure you that it has given me a new life.

    Best to you!

  23. says

    You are getting some great advice with all the comments. I think the most important thing is to learn what works for you, your body and your disease.

    I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia 5 years ago (though I’m sure I’ve had it for years). Everything I tried would stop helping after a time and my life changed radically for the worse. A few months ago I put myself on an elimination diet with no gluten, corn, soy, dairy, citrus, nightshade plants. That certainly covers all processed food, too. It relieved 80% of my pain! I’ve been able to reintroduce some dairy and eggs with success. It’s literally changing my life.

    And I see by these comments that others are finding answers through diet as well.

    I’ve been blogging this experiment daily at:
    if anyone is interested in this journey.

    Best of luck to us all!!

  24. shari watson says

    I just posted a message and then read everyone elses messages. You name the problem I have it. So, bottom line is getting thru the problems, not even necessary to identify them…Protocell. I have been in natural health care for 25 years, trying to FIND the monster within. Cleanses, nutritional supports, avoiding foods. My story is very long. If you want to talk more. The before mentioned info is very valuable. pH is one that I didn’t see mentioned. Test you urin pH with a test strip. chances are it is not 7 (normal) but in the acid area. Mine is finally in the 7 range. I can’t speak more highly of Protocell. Finally a product to kill the beast within. WOrks with any disease. Good luck all. I am so saddened to see so many suffers like me. It truely is no fun. BUT now I have true hope…your friend. SHARI

  25. shari watson says

    Would you please see that Nicole gets this. I am 49 and have been chasing my chronic fatigue monster since I was 20. Please see the website on Protocell. I am currently treating my CFS. Yes, I supported thyroid, adrenals, blood sugar, depression and the list goes on. I stopped eating wheat years ago before I came to your site. Just because it made me feel worse, but I never got better. CFS is Epstein Bar Virus. An auto immune disorder. This Protocell attacks the bad cells and allow the good cells to survive and replenish. I have become so bad I have spent the last 10 years spending 80% of my time in bed. Now, my thyroid levels are coming down, my adrenals are regular, I have far less depression and anxiety. I would certainly hate to see her waste her life away as mine has. I am currently on Protocell 23 and am seeing hope, Life actually might be worth living!! shari

  26. Rebecca says

    I am all too familiar with chronic illness. I have suffered with RSD and fibromyalgia for the last 6 years. Chronic pain is very taxing. I will say though that my diet makes a difference and I am highly motivated to do anything that reduces the pain. In fact I would eat beets and onions all day long if I thought it would help me! Thankfully I don’t have to resort to that extreme. I don’t eat any sugar, dairy, grains or yeast. I know how you feel when you think, if I eat any more meat and green vegetables I think I will cry. I also agree, the freezer is your best friend. Make extra, individually wrap potions and freeze. Breakfast is the hardest. I eat a lot of eggs, steamed veggies, and fruit. I also like to eat sweet potatoes with butter and cinnamon. I make coconut milk smoothies using canned coconut milk (easy to find), frozen cherries and raspberries. You could use any low sugar frozen berries. It is very creamy and yummy. It will keep you full for awhile, too. I can relate to never filling up. My husband calls me the bottomless pit when it comes to food! Snacks are tricky, too. I bought a dehydrator and make “flax crackers” by soaking flax and adding herbs and salt, then spread on trays and dehydrate. I put nut butters on them. You could also make jerky with the dehydrator. Elana’s cookbook has helped, as well. I like to make her bread, toast it extra crispy and top it with nutbutters and fruit or seeds. I made the brownie recipe on this site last week and froze some of them. They were great, even my husband liked them. I did however tell him that if he ate any more of MY brownies I would kill him in his sleep! Ha! I swear, the man can eat anything and he always wants to eat the handful of things I can eat! I guess it just tells you how tasty some of it can be even if you are on a restrticted diet.
    Hope this helps a bit. You are not alone. Illness sucks, but there are blessings in it as well. My dr told me that perhaps being diagnosed with this and making so many radical dietary and environmental changes might have kept me from getting something worse down the road. Life is good, but sometimes it is indeed hard.

  27. Marilyn says

    Please, please, please get tested for Lyme disease. I spent most of my adult life believing I had fibromyalgia, only to find out in my early 40’s that I actually had Lyme disease, and the testing that I had had for this tick-borne illness in the past were useless. My sister was told for 20 years and my mom for 10 plus years that they, too, had fibromyalgia when it was really Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Educate yourself about this disease, which has increased by huge numbers all over the United States over the past few years. The tests are not accurate, so finding a Lyme-literate physician is very important. Go to and click on “doctor referral” to find a doctor in your area. Other good resources:,,, and others. E-mail me at if you want to know more. Don’t expect your regular doctor to know or support you in researching this disease – most just don’t get the severity of the epidemic, and there is a lot of politics in the medical world surrounding this disease. Best of luck to you!

  28. says

    I am one of the people who eats pretty much the same thing every day, so I agree that repetition can save time and anxiety about eating. I also use whey protein powder in many different ways and this is actually the cornerstone of my diet sometimes…also flax seed and almond milk with the whey at breakfast. I don’t give up and keep fighting because…we HAVE to. Sometimes finding what works for us means not paying attention to conventional thoughts about nutrition, etc…but it’s ok! Be true to your body and it won’t let you down!!

  29. says

    Keeping up the energy to stick through a gluten-free diet, much less a grain-free diet, does take planning. So as others have said before, plan your meals, and cook in bulk so you have something in the freezer.
    For breakfast, you may have to think outside the box a bit. For me, eggs are such a good source of protein that I stay full with them…but you mentioned that they don’t fill you up. How about cooking a few sweet potatoes, and drizzling with coconut oil and/or honey/agave? I LOVE sweet potatoes, and they make a filling, delicious breakfast. Or right now, pumpkins and winter squashes are in season. Bake up a bunch! This will definitely help satisfy that sweet/starch craving. Also for breakfast, making up some grain-free granola (I know Elana has a recipe on this site) and eating it with almond or hemp milk is a great “quickie” meal (with some fruit). I even like to snack on the granola, in place of crackers or chips.
    I hope you start to feel better soon, and that focusing on eating clean will help you along that path.

  30. unscrambled says

    for breakfast, I’m not full with just eggs either.

    I have to eat protein + fat. (and veg and fruit and what have you, but the fat + protein is what keeps me full)

    A smoothie with protein powder needs added coconut oil, or a raw egg, or likely, both for me to be full.

    I’ve got MS, and want to send shouts and support to all of us who are dealing with this stuff.

  31. says

    Hi Elana, Nicole, and others,
    Thank you for all the helpful suggestions and encouragement. I would just like to repeat what many have said — bake and freeze, eat protein, cut out the sugar. I feel so much better having moved from white sugar to agave, from wheat flour to coconut and almond flours, and trying to remember to have fruit snacks during the day. I send Elana’s almond butter blondies (we call them ‘brownies’ to appeal to my son) with my son to school every day — and my husband and I will snack on them — you can cut the agave and chocolate in half and the recipe is still tasty.
    Hang in there – when you start feeling better, as others have said, your sugar cravings go away, and soon you’ll start to think most food tastes too sweet. I drink a lot of teas as well – try a warm mug of tea when you first feel a craving and the craving may pass.
    Good luck and best wishes to all.

  32. says

    Thanks so much for doing this post. Being gluten and dairy free is not easy, but these recipes look scrumptious. I’m going to try each and every one. Have a wonderful day.

  33. jennifer says

    Hi Nicole,
    I also was greatly helped by Chinese medicine. Turned upside down a lot of what I would hear daily about what was healthy food. It cleared my system and provided me with some simple, nutritious foods that I can always fall back on.
    Changing my concept of what breakfast consists of, has been the biggest change and most helpful. I, also, used to wake up starving. I would grab some fruit and a “healthy” muffins or fix some kind of cereal. All my lovely teff and millet and sorghum and spelt and rice breads and muffins were making me sicker and heavier. I now eat very few fruit; family and friends get to enjoy my fruit trees. Breakfast now begins with hot lemon water. Sometimes it will be hours later before I realize I’m hungry (this is new for me!) and I will eat my main meal.
    My family doesn’t always share my meals. I don’t want to spend all my waking hours in the kitchen, so meals are quick! … lots of vegetables, bouillon cubes that don’t have rice or cornstarch, favorite spices and herbs, ginger and cayenne(good for the tummy), potatoes ( thin-sliced they cook in about 5 mins), buckwheat pasta, nuts and different oils. For battering meat and fish, almond is great. I also make a mix of arrowroot, tapioca and kuzu flours – hubby loves it. Once the kitchen is stocked with favorite flours, it’s fun to cook. My favorites are buckwheat, tapioca, arrowroot, almond, amaranth, quinoa, coconut, and kuzu for thickening.
    I can now pass up anyone’s fresh-baked brownies or bread because it’s more important for me to be well. Biting into the delicious goodies that I or my daughter have made, I am so grateful for websites like Elana’s and the abundance of grain-free foods now available.
    I will say, though, eating in restaurants is definitely challenging.
    My daughter and I are planning on a road-trip next year; that will interesting.
    One more quick thing – YogaToday has a great website with tons of instructional videos. I’m not the best at keeping a regular schedule, but when I start to feel that downhill slide, I will make myself do yoga. Great for the internal organs, lymphatic system, energy … everything! Sarah does Kundalini Yoga – it’s heaven! Good luck!

  34. Dena says

    A couple other ideas that are easy.
    A big pot of chili or bean soup. You can put it over Asian rice noodles one night, over rice the next, over Quinoa the next if you want something more.
    Hard-boiled eggs — great for adding to things or eating as a snack.
    I’ve found a salad dressing recipe that I LOVE (Italian, but the best Italian I’ve ever had). I make it regularly and use it everywhere to add flavour to something that’d be just okay, without it. My hubby added it to the tuna salad the other day (instead of mayo) and YUM!
    In a pinch, I make some quinoa (my mom does it in the micro – I’ve not had success with that) or millet, chop up some colorful veg (pepper, carrot, something green), add a couple spoons of canned corn, a hard-boiled egg, fry up some tofu (or chicken if I have), throw it all together, pour the Italian dressing over it, and I have a meal that not only fills and satisfies the belly, but fills and satisfies the eye!
    Make “protein bars” with dates, figs, flax seed, nuts, whatever else you have on hand. Just throw it in you food processor. Add an egg and bake as short muffins. Make lots and freeze, then grab one straight from freezer to take with you to work for snack.
    You mentioned CHOP, so if you’re near Delaware County, go visit Linvilla Farms Store and buy nut butters. it’s been years since I’ve been, but last time I was there, they had walls dedicated to different “butters”. Spreading almond butter on a celery stalk one day and walnut butter the next will help you keep variety with utter ease. By the way – go now and get a pumpkin while you’re there!
    I don’t know what the Larabar is, but look for Trio bars. I got them at Costco.
    A recent discovery of ours is Thai rice wraps. They look like a see-through hard tortilla. You wet them, let the water run off, and it’s instantly bendable. use them as wraps for food on the fly, or to hold a chili hot dog (if you have GF dogs), or to fry up egg rolls out of the leftovers in your fridge. Sometimes I do a layer of rice wrap, a layer of sushi seaweed, then tuna fish, wrap and eat.

  35. Nicole says

    jenny L- i have never been diagnosed with hypoglycemia, but when my blood sugar was tested they told me it was low. they said not to worry though, it’s better than it being high. The protein idea every 2-3 hours is something i will try, thank you.

    Cheri- i love larabars too! ultra clear seems interesting, i am going to look into that, thank you.

    Pam- wonderful, wonderful ideas. I heard of the whole “Warming” thing. I just never thought that it would be something useful to me. But i see that i am wrong. I will definitely lean towards warming foods. I love ginger and garlic, so that’s a start. Thank for that recipe too, sounds delicious and, although i am grain free, i believe i am going ot try and re introduce them in my life in small amounts and see what happens. That recipe is a good place to start.

    Tamara, thank you. I never thought to get my cortisol levels checked. Will do when i can. Thank you.


  36. says

    The first thing to consider is to be nice to yourself. When your CFS and Fibro flare it is not because you “have done something”. Sometimes it just happens. It doesn’t mean that diet or exercise doesn’t help–but you can’t blame a full blown flare on one slip up or you’ll drive yourself nuts and think it’s all hopeless–but really it isn’t!

    You’ll find that the more changes you can make over the long term (so this may mean starting very slowly) the better you will feel. There a lot of good suggestions about food. Good luck to you and remember it’s always important to be kind and compassionate with yourself.

  37. Emily says

    Elana, I don’t think the way you eat is something to laugh about at all! You are doing your body a great favor as well as your brain a favor by making it all so simple! I think your tips will help lots of people dealing with this. I am currently trying to manage a flare-up with my diet and it really does make a difference for me. ALL I have been eating for 8 days straight is chicken and homemade stock. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So I can attest to the same-ol’, same-ol’. And strangely enough, it is comforting and nice to know that the next meal is already planned out. I agree.
    Please pass my email address on to Nicole with the offer of a listening ear and friend. I would love to hear from her if she’d like. I feel so much empathy for her and her struggles.
    Have a lovely week :)

  38. Nicole says

    WOw wow wow.

    I logged on to my e-mail tonight and got a message telling me Elana has posted a new blog. Imagine my surprise when I saw my letter to her topic!

    All i could think at first was, oh no! what a horrible habit i have of not capitalizing my I’s…my old english teacher would so be wagging her finger at me right now, ha! My new goal: to work on that. :)

    Elana, you have no idea how you touched my heart today. I am so happy and thankful that you brought my story to light and gave me some great ideas. I am going to be quick to integrate them so i don’t completely admit defeat.

    Thank you to everyone for their responses. How smart and helpful you guys are! You can bet i have new recipe ideas now.

    Jenny, Jennifer and Wendy. I am so sorry that you guys are dealing with the same thing i am. and thank you for your wonderful ideas. I think they will definitely save me energy.

    M – thanks for the idea of having a friend come over. I think you’re right, it would be good to have someone to alternate with so i could have a night off.

    Zebe912, great idea with the eggs! My mind has been so “zoned in” that i didn’t even think of a mini quiche.

    Hannah – . You have inspired me to try kombucha. I was always afraid too, but if it can help fill me up, it’s worth getting over the fear.

    Nancy, thank you for your kind words. The crock pot idea is great. I completely forgot about that kitchen appliance!

    Scott thank you for your suggestion. That’s exactly what i thought too so i had them checked, and the Doctors say they are healthy.

    I actually fought for my current diagnosis because i told all of my doctors, and believe me there were many of them, something is not right. I hurt. I’m tired. I do not feel as young as my age is. My friends can do this and that, and i cant.

    I ended up “Stumping” my doctors and was sent to The Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia. There a special diagnostician took my case and diagnosed me.

    But he told me there was nothing I could really do for my illnesses and to just do the best i can with what i’ve got.

    After going through a little depression/denial, I slowly emerged and realized that i had to take a hold of my life. So i did.

    I love food and the science of it, so i, like you guys know, am trying to do it through food.

    So thank you Elana and you guys so much for your assistance through food. The word “vast” isn’t big enough to describe how much it helped, encouraged, and comforted me.

    Here’s to another week of good eating, short days at work, and pillow popping under the feet. :)


  39. says

    Wanted to mention for this young lady that testing for cortisol levels is very important. Get the book, “Chronic Fatigue Unmasked 2000” and look into this. I started suffering the same thing younger than her. I’m 38 now and have been in and out of hospitals due to it, have severe hypoglycemia, low thyroid (T3), low progesterone, and unable to do anything most days. I’m on the road to recovery, but the first thing to do is find a naturopath who will help with healing those adrenals. I have a few blogs I write on; one of them I just started doing a daily post on this very matter. Here’s the website to help with adrenal fatigue / chronic fatigue:

    If you click on “DAILY POST” under TOPICS, you’ll see where I began this “diary” of mine just a few days ago.

    Here’s the site of the naturopath who is helping me via email and phone who has the practice from the doc who wrote the book, “Chronic Fatigue Unmasked 2000” …

    Click on “Basic Questions” and “FAQ.”

    If you get this under control at a young age, you won’t end up like me, unable to work or leave your home!

    Coram Deo,
    Tamara Slack

  40. says

    I agree with a lot of what’s already been said. I have a sister who deals with the same issues and have worked with people as well with CFS and fibromyalgia.

    Exercise, even mild is important. I don’t know if you’ve tried Chinese medicine at all. If you haven’t I would suggest finding a practitioner near you who is versed in dietary therapy and if you can afford it, do acupuncture also. If you’re not familiar the philosophy is focused around the energy that you get from air and food and exercise and the importance of the quality of it and how you use it. Also as important is knowing what is right for you, especially when it comes to diet. Very different from a more traditional view of the four food groups, each person’s body is viewed as unique (we are not clones, right?), and so what we eat take into account genetic make-up, lifestyle, how we are emotional and mentally and how we handle things like stress and work and relationships.

    Food wise Chinese medicine feels that warm foods are always the best source of energy over cool or cold. When you look at water that’s put into an ice cube tray, what happens, it contracts and freezes. If you put it in a pan and over heat, it expands and moves. So with that in mind that’s how the body is looked at in relation to food. It’s not advised, in general, to eat cool or cold foods, and best to avoid, dairy, and hard to digest foods, including fatty, fried foods.

    Cool/cold foods do not just mean refrigerated or frozen because foods inherently are either cold or warm. You can warm them some by adding things like ginger and garlic, but generally fruits and vegetables tend to be cool, and sugar and salt cold. Makes sense about the sugar salt and the level of unhealthiness with that. Most Asian cultures cook their vegetables and add hot spices and add hot tea to aid in digestion.

    Sorry to go on, but just wanted to give you some background. A couple things that are important to remember the energy and keeping it moving. The other thing is to make things (if you can tolerate them), like oatmeal in the morning for breakfast (put dates or figs or berries and walnuts on top for flavor, and/or a drizzle of Agave). A great supplementing dish is a simple, cheap pot of congee, or Jook which is common in most Eastern cultures. Easy to digest, made with rice and some warming spices. Excellent to have all year round, but especially during fall and winter to warm the stomach and boost the immune system. The recipe is below. You can also do the American version of soup which is organic chicken stock, rice, and chicken (if you like) with a a couple large pieces of ginger cooked in and at serving place 1 to 2 cloves of fresh garlic and cilantro chopped. Maybe too rich for some, but it’s a great classic. Here’s the congee recipe (try to use organic where possible):

    1/2 cup rice of choice (I use Jasmine)
    4 cups of purified water to start
    4 1/2 inch slices fresh ginger
    boil in large pot (as it tends to boil over easily) for 2-4 hours; if you cover, have plentry of room for boiling and WATCH closely (it does cook faster this way
    continue to replenish water frequently so you have at least half the pot full

    Rice should break down and start to form a kind of porridge (no idea how to spell it). You don’t have to cook it as long to get the benefit. You can also precook rice with excess water and cut down your cooking time.

    Seems too simple, but it’s been used for centuries to heal the body. You can add whatever you want (that makes it Jook), such as garlic or other warming things when you serve, but I prefer it plain with garlic. You can put chicken or lamb in it (two warming meats) for extra protein and warmth. Lamb is actually a hot meat, and tasty.

    Avoiding sugar and sweets as much as possible is probably a good idea, use Agave or cook fruit with cinnamon to warm it up. Take warm baths, soak your feet in hot water, put heat on your stomach. The goal is to warm the stomach where the source of food comes from. It’s the starting point for nourishing the rest of the body.

    I have gone gluten free myself and am so happy to have found this site and try all of the wonderful recipes!

  41. Cheri says


    I too spend my Sunday cooking for the week. The idea of quiche is a good one. I make a crustless quiche but I can’t WAIT to try Elana’s recipe in the Almond Flour cookbook.

    I have found that the more grain – even if it’s rice – that I eat the more I want grain and baked goods.

    When I was first diagnosed with gluten intolerance I went on an elimination diet. Taking all grain out of my diet made me feel better in about 2 weeks. I felt so good I stayed like that for over a year. After a while I got brave and decided to begin adding things back in and soon found that I could tolerate corn in small amounts, rice was fine but wheat gave me a headache and instant lower GI distress.

    When I’m stressed I want to crunch something and I tend to turn to tortilla chips more than turning to celery but if the celery is there and washed and cut – I will eat it. Making a good choice has everthing to do with being prepared.

    The more I am grain free the more I will stay that way – if I let some in it’s easier to let myself slip more often. I have more energy when I’m grain free.

    For breakfast my doctor had given me a protein supplement called Ultra Clear to use as a smoothie while I was clearing the grains out of my system. I did that for 6 months initially. I do it once a year now just as a cleanse.

    For lunch I have a big salad and I vary the veggies and meat and dressing to keep it interesting.

    Dinners I would have a piece of grilled or roasted protein and veggie. Making things ahead of time and freezing allows for variation in your weekly dinners especially if you cook for one.

    If I don’t have the protein, I’m too hungry.

    Snacks have almost always been apples and almonds.

    When I traveled for work I never went anywhere without a Lara Bar, apples and almonds and a bottle of water.

    I know it’s difficult to feel as though you’re deprived of something you want but when you begin to feel better that is a motivation in itself. Begin to change your thinking pattern about this lifestyle change as healthy and adding energy to your life instead of a punishment.

    Good luck and thanks to everyone else who shared. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my own struggle to stay healthy.

  42. Jenny L. says

    Hi Nicole,

    I also have fibromyalgia. A lot of people with fibro also have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). I find that it really helps my fatigue if I completely cut out sugar and eat a protein every 2 to 3 hours and make sure you have a good protein breakfast. If I eat carbs for breakfast without protein, I will feel bad for the rest of the day.

    When I am having a flare and feel particularly rotten, I try and remember that the flare will not last forever and I will feel at least a little better soon. It is very easy to feel discouraged with this disease and it helps to stay positive.

    Good luck.

  43. Nancy says

    Hi Nicole,

    I avoid many foods and have found that a smoothie for breakfast, with fruit, protein (hemp powder for me), kale or spinach, and a probiotic capsule dumped in, holds me until lunch and is easy to make and take. I’ve cut back on the fruit and added more greens to minimize the glycemic load. In colder weather, or for a really hurried morning I’ll have some squash or pumpkin bread made with nut butter (no grains).
    Elana’s blog has been a huge help to me as well, as we avoid the same foods. I also do a lot of batch cooking and freezing – everything from “breads” to my own chicken soup. A crockpot could become your best friend. :)
    Don’t give up – you will definitely take 2 or more steps back for every step forward you have achieved. Stay positive and best of luck with saving for and finding the right kind of medical help.

  44. Wendy says

    Nicole, I also have fibromyalgia and CFS. I have had some heavy metal testing, systemic yeast infection testing and food allergy testing. I was positive in all three areas and was treated. I am feeling much better. Just an idea for you to look further into. Good luck and take care.

  45. Jennifer Bradley says

    Hi to Nicole and Jenny, the last post(er)…
    I was diagnosed with both as well at the age of 16. I am now exactly 30. It still blows my mind, that literally half of my life has been as a slave to these issues. This spring I found out about some hormonal, estrogen and progesterone, imbalances. and Not minor ones either.. MAJOR lack of female hormones. I’ve been in menopause this entire time!And I am gluten-intolerant, so eating accordingly has helped my stomache issues tremendously! For breakfast, try some gluten-free Rice Chex with fruit, muffins which you can easily make with Pamela’s mix or from Elana’s recipes, or even some gluten-free Kinnikinnick English Muffins (not sure if I spelled that right) ..they are SO yummy! Hang in there. You gave me a smile today, after a day of being down in the dumps and feeling all alone in this! Thank YOU !

  46. says


    Nicole, I also have Fibromyalgia and CFS. I have noticed that some light exercise such as walking, pilates and a gluten free diet have really helped with both of them. I have celiac so the gluten free diet isn’t just to help with the other two.

    I agree with eating lots of fruits, veggies and salads. Fried or heavy foods I do my best to avoid. Also I try hard to not eat too much sugar. I make most of my food and try not to eat out too much. Plus I use a lot of Elana’s recipes with Agave instead of sugar.

    I live by myself, but I cook in larger portions and freeze my meals. Many times I eat my left overs from dinner one night and eat them for lunch the next day. I made a lot of quices and have a slice for dinner with a salad for dinner and quice and fruit or yogurt for breakfast.

    I was diagnosed when I was 15 and am now 27. Thankfully over the past few years with these changes in my lifestyle and diet I haven’t had many issues or doctors appointments for the Fibro and CFS.

    Good luck, I hope everything works out for you!!

  47. says

    My heart goes out to Nicole. I know how hard it can be to stay on track especially when you are exhausted. I agree with looking at adrenal fatigue as most Americans now are dealing with this on some level with the amount of sugar and caffeine in the diet.

    I like to advise people to treat breakfast as truly the most important meal. It is challenging to be grain free and means planning ahead. That is why Elana’s site is so treasured for me. I love to know there is a place where I can eat every recipe she writes. When I went away recently for a wedding I made a batch of sesame dip and brought cut up veggies with me. I made the walnut torte so I would have a treat, and I made a fritta to have for the low protein moments.

    Having eggs over greens works to make me feel more satisfied in the mornings and then i usually will eat again very soon after, something sweet or I will have a kombucha which really fills me up.

    Good luck Nicole, I wish you health and happiness,


  48. says

    I find that if I do a big meal prep for the whole week on Sunday then I can just pull things out of the fridge & freezer that are already made or just need heating. This is the only way I stay on track. If I have to think of something at the last minute, it tends to go bad quickly.

    Make some of Elana’s muffins and put half of them in the freezer, and keep half to use for breakfasts or snacks during the week. I find I do better with a muffin & eggs in the morning that with just one or the other. A great way to make eggs ahead of time & pack them with some extra nutrients is this: They are basically mini quiche and you can add whatever you want & can eat. I add spinach, cheese, & ham to mine.

  49. ~M says

    Here are a few more tips that I incorporate:

    Breakfast is tough. Try sauteeing greens or a spinach and chia (or protein powder or nut butter) filled smoothie alongside eggs. Leftover salmon, chicken, and chicken soup are also some of my breakfast favorites. I’ve also been known to add smoked salmon and chives or green onions to eggs. Make a few batches of muffins for a midday snack; my favorite ones are coconut flour based because they are the most gentle to my GI tract. Alternatively, if you’re most hungry in the morning, treat it as your main meal (how most of us treat dinner in the US) but then have a smaller dinner when you’re exhausted.

    Try to put a minimum of 1-2 portions aside to freeze, as a minimum, every time you cook. This way you’ll always have “fast food” ready within minutes.

    Use a crockpot to make soup, steam/poach chicken, etc. I have the most energy in the morning so I assemble the ingredients then and it can simmer all day and, as soon as I get home, dinner is ready. I might have a salad or green smoothie later in the evening as a snack.

    In general, plan out your meals so you’re never stuck without knowing what you’ll be eating.

    I also find that it’s much easier to cook when you’re cooking for more than yourself so invite a friend or family over. You can either cook together, like I usually do with my husband, or alternate so that you cook, say, Monday, and someone else cooks Wednesday, which will give you a night off to relax.

    I’ll see if I can think of any more ideas…best of luck!

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