What do you do to look after yourself, if anything? It might be physical, such as running or exercise classes, or mental, such as meditation or some form of intellectual challenge like crosswords or sudoku. It could be to do with diet or with ways of elevating your mood.
It is a tricky one. It is perfectly possible to become so obsessed with your own health that you squeeze the joy out of life. I love food, I love cooking, I love wine. I don't want to live on brown rice. But I do want to feel good and I am seriously wondering if I need to change the way I eat. I don't normally use this blog to talk about very personal things but here we go. I hope you don't mind if just this once I do.
For the last twelve months or so I have been plagued with tiredness, with repeated colds and unhappy guts. A lot has happened in that time, principally the last illness and death of my father in law and the continuing decline of my father with motor neurone disease. I have assumed when I have felt battered by exhaustion that this is the inevitable result of an exhausting stage of life with a weekly six hundred mile round trip and the additional and welcome demands of a large family of children and grandchildren. We have focused hard on trying to keep our heads above water and on looking after each other. I have kept up my yoga, joined a choir and tried to look after that self which is not simply a daughter or a mother and grandmother. I am an energetic person. I live my life biting off more than I can chew and I married someone who is just the same but now I am constantly getting left behind, always tired, unable to work in the garden for longer than an hour, knocked out if I have to get up early, looking back on my long walk on the Offa's Dyke Path from five years ago with bemusement. Could I do that now? Absolutely not. Is it just getting older? Is it trying to do too much? Should I just accept that as we age energy diminishes? I just don't know.
So I went to the doctor, under pressure of course. I seem to be borderline hypothryroid. Come back for more tests in a few weeks she says. But I have had enough. I have been trogging round the internet. I know, I know. There is any amount of stuff out there to keep the hyponchondriacs happy. I have no idea if changing my diet will make the slightest difference. But while I am waiting for tests and more tests I don't see that I have anything to lose by having a go at changing my eating habits.
This is the article which has most appealed to me. In a nutshell it suggests giving up caffeine, increasing the intake of protein and (most controversially and for me most challengingly) going gluten free. The first two won't be a problem at all. I am not going to have to give up wine either which is good! But going gluten free will be much harder. I love bread. We make all our own so I know it is not full of additives but there is no getting away from the fact that it is full of wheat! I also love baking: cakes, pies and pastries. Ah well. If it just a couple of months I can surely manage and it is not as if I am coeliac where there are real issues of the dangers of contamination and real problems if you accidentally find yourself having consumed something with gluten in it. And by the end of a couple of months I will surely know whether it makes any difference at all.
So there we go. I feel a bit self conscious about this. I have always been rather dismissive about faddy eaters. I have kept pretty quiet about the fact that I have been using the FODMAP diet (without needing to restrict wheat) for IBS for the last few years. But it is partly the fact that there is no doubt that the FODMAP diet works for me which has made me wonder if a couple more modifications might make a difference. And it helps that we make all our food from scratch so there is no need for extensive reading of labels. So here we go. I wonder how it will be?
What do you do to look after yourself and does it work?! What are the really important things that make a difference to your health and energy?