At some point in our lives, almost everyone will face a form of back pain. This is on point more than ever for me as I recently suffered a six week injury in my sacroiliac joint which affected both my pelvis and back. This can cause real struggles and difficulties in people’s lives and can be difficult to deal with, however, the good news is that there are different ways in which you can ease the pain and keep your back in tip top condition. Here, I am taking you through some top tips on how to ease back pain.
A common trait you will find amongst people who suffer from back pain is that they frequently have sleep disturbances. When you do not get enough quality sleep, back pain can worsen due to inflammation. Invest in a good mattress and try out different sleeping positions. A pillow between the legs can really ease the discomfort for a more peaceful night’s sleep.
If you suffer from back pain, one of the best things that you can do is take some time to rest. However, while you’d want to avoid vigorous activity, some light exercise can actually do your back some good. When you rest your back too much, you are decreasing muscle strength which can worsen some types of back pain. Take it slow by first going out on some light walks and then build up your activity level.
If you are overweight, this can put excess weight on your back and many people find that when they lose those extra pounds the back pain decreases astronomically. This means you don’t have to be tied down to taking lots of different medication. If you are someone who struggles to lose weight, why not consult with a dietician to find a healthy meal plan that works for you.
When you suffer from back pain, one of the best things you can do is seek help from a back pain clinic. A back pain clinic can offer you a variety of different, innovative treatments that can free yourself from back pain. To get an idea of what treatments are available, this back pain clinic in London offer musculoskeletal physiotherapy, shockwave therapy, neuro physiotherapy and even Pilates!
Hot or Cold Packs
If you are suffering from back pain and need some immediate relief, a good idea is to try both hot and cold packs to see which one works best for them. If you are suffering from inflammation, it tends to be that an ice pack is the better option as this can help to reduce the swelling; however, if you are experiencing cramp, tension or muscle spasms then a hot water bottle could be the better option.
Light exercise is great, but yoga is fantastic for those suffering from back pain. Not only is it very therapeutic, but it also helps to improve chronic back pain by loosening tight muscles, improving breathing and building strength. Yoga is also great for relaxation and so can help to relax your muscles, therefore reducing pain in the process.
I absolutely love superfoods, powder blends, wholefood supplements and vegan ingredients. Our cupboards are always overflowing with these sorts of things and my Kilner jars are stacked up on the kitchen sides filled with such goodness. When the opportunity arose to review some items from Indigo Herbs last week, I simply couldn’t resist. In this blog post I am going to share with you the three superfood powder blends I received and the vegan berry smoothie bowl recipe I instantly whipped up.
Whilst many women may get excited about clothes shopping, my thrill rather comes from shopping at natural grocery stores; especially those full of vegan delights and with healthy superfoods at the core of their products. Indigo Herbs is definitely one of these places that I can get very excited about. I create smoothies on almost a daily basis, sugar-free and dairy-free snacks and bites for the kids (OK, OK, and the adults too!) and energy balls galore. We have a meat and dairy free household and we’re 99% refined sugar free. This means I’m regularly buying the types of products Indigo Herbs sells – they are right up my street!
Ice-Cold Vegan Berry Smoothie Bowl
The products came with impeccable timing as I was already planning to make a delicious ice cold vegan berry smoothie bowl yesterday to enjoy in the heat. We had the most gorgeous bout of sunshine the past two days and our south facing sun trap of a garden provided some sweltering heat! I usually favour green fruit and veg smoothies or chocolate milkshakes (with plant based milk of course), but the heat had inspired me to make a thicker than usual, ice-cold berry smoothie bowl to cool me down!
I had frozen berries, oat milk and almond flakes at the ready, but no suitable powders to add to the concoction. Luckily my Indigo Herbs parcel arrived and the Super Vital powder was the perfect addition. It’s full of acai, baobab and beetroot powders so is a lovely rich purple flavour. It’s going to be the ideal accompaniment to many of my summer smoothies, homemade ice lollies and more. I’m even thinking up some berry style energy balls with this powder and drooling just at the thought!
It’s the first time I’ve made a smoothie bowl instead of drinking it from a cup, but I knew just what to do. Several times before I’d created a too thick consistency and struggled to drink from the straw, so had thought to myself it’s more like a frozen yoghurt type dessert! Inspired by the many smoothie bowls I see plastered on Instagram, I decided to make my own and turn my beloved drinkable smoothie into a much thicker spoon feedable (made up word right there I believe) mixture instead.
1x small banana (preferably frozen, but fresh is fine too)
As many frozen berries as you can fill to the line of your largest blender cup. I used redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
Oat milk (or water or whatever plant based milk you prefer)
1x heaped teaspoon Indigo Herbs Vital Powder (if you’re not used to superfood powders then start with less and build up over time)
Flaked almonds, blueberries and berries for decoration
Using your largest smoothie cup, add the banana and then top up with frozen berries to the fill line. I use a Nutri Ninja and used the largest cup with makes a good large bowlful of smoothie, or two smaller bowlfuls to share.
Pour the milk or water up to the fill line
Add the powder
Blend until smooth – this may take a little longer than usual as it crunches through the frozen ingredients, so make sure you keep pulsing until they’re all blended properly
Pour, or scoop out, into a bowl
Add some flaked almonds and berries to make the bowl look extra pretty (and totally Instagramable)
Devour and enjoy!
If you want to get even more funky and enjoy the flavours for longer, simply pour the mixture into moulds and freeze for delicious homemade, healthy, all natural frozen ice lollies.
The bowl was absolutely delicious and best eaten immediately before it starts melting, so I did.
Thank you so much to Indigo Herbs for sending me the powder. Let’s take a look below at the powders I received in more detail and their amazing benefits:
This is the amazing bright purple powder I used for my smoothie bowl above. It contains three ingredients; beetroot, acai and baobab. The colour is so vibrant and the blend is so flavoursome that you can add the powder to water alone for a great tasting refreshing beverage. For extra goodness blend with fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly more purple varieties to enhance that colour! It’s high in vitamin C and antioxidants providing energy, protect8ing against free radicals and helping to purify the blood. The baobab and acai are both organic too.
This powder is full of such a mixture of ingredients it sounds strange, but it’s like another green powder blend with a rich green tone and grassy flavour. This will be another great addition to my regular green smoothies, but today I wanted to have a sort of shot of green goodness so blended a teaspoon of the powder with half a cup of distilled water and one kiwi. It’s a strong grassy flavour, so if you’re not used to this then add more fruit and start with less powder until you become accustomed to the taste. This is an exclusive superfood blend which has been formulated by nutritionist David Ash for Indigo Herbs. It’s recommended to take it daily to support overall health and wellbeing. I bet this would have been a very beneficial blend just recently when I suffered a twisted sacroiliac joint for six weeks as it contains the remarkable anti-inflammatory turmeric powder. This blend is aimed at the liver, though it can support health in many other ways. For the liver it provides detoxification, support and nurture. Again, start with a small amount and build it up over time to the recommended daily serving if you are new to these superfoods. This product contains:
These sorts of powders are my favourite. I read once that green vegetables have around ten times the nutritional content of other veg. I’m not sure how accurate that is, but they are abundant in vital vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to improve and safeguard our health. We need a whole range of colours of vegetables and fruits which is where the saying ‘eat the rainbow’ comes from, but greens should be a part of a healthy diet every single day. Of course it is essential to eat your greens, but for an extra boost and to get even more beneficial antioxidants in the diet then quality green superfood powders provide the perfect way to do this. Simply mix with water and drink as a shot each morning or alternatively create a mostly vegetable green powered smoothie with a touch of fruit to sweeten it. This blend from Indigo Herbs is certified organic, very high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and 100% pure. It’s full of all the green goodies, the best and some of the truest superfoods, that are going to boost your health the most; wheatgrass, barleygrass, spirulina, moringa and chlorella. Personally I prefer to get my vitamins and minerals from natural solutions such as this powder rather than questionable synthetic vitamin tablets made in labs.
Overall I am so impressed with Indigo Herbs. These three products are high quality, full of mostly organic ingredients, 100% natural and each blend works really well. For those of us who want an extra daily boost of vitamins and minerals from natural sources, they provide the perfect solution. They are abundant in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants which are naturally derived and perfect for us plant based foodies.
Green supplements are quite popular right now so it’s absolutely normal to hear all sorts of opinions about them. From conspiracy theories stating we only consume them because of good marketing, to people strongly believing all greens are the same, the myths on this topic are quite creative.
But you shouldn’t allow false information stop you from improving your current state of health. Myths are just that and today I will debunk five of the most common variations you might hear in relation to green powders.
#1: Producers Can Put Anything in the Powder
This was more of a slander campaign, but it had some effect on the general public and some people still believe harmful ingredients can be hidden in the powder. Of course, it’s important to buy the product with your eyes wide open and do your own research beforehand. Like anything, you shouldn’t buy from a brand you don’t trust and this is particularly important when it comes to a product that you’re putting in your body.
Reputable producers are very careful with their ingredients because they want to deliver a high-quality product and acquire customers. So make sure to read customer reviews; this can really help you understand what other people have experienced, and if there are any ingredients you should be wary of.
Still, I recommend you read the label carefully, to make sure you agree with all the ingredients before consuming any product.
#2: All Products Are the Same
Just because they’re all green it doesn’t mean they all have the same content (or the same results!) Each product features a unique combination of grains, herbs, vegetables, fruits, and grasses that create a special blend of nutrients and vitamins.
Furthermore, the method of processing has a huge impact on the final result, which is why some producers offer both the standard and the raw blend of the same combination.
This myth is not only totally wrong, it’s also dangerous! Green powders are included in the category of supplements for a good reason and that is they help complete the types of nutrients you get from a diet based on all food groups. Powdered greens can’t and shouldn’t replace vegetables in their raw format!
Vegetables have fibre and contain nutrients that are lost during the processing of the powder. Not to mention, when consumed fresh, they bring plenty of natural energy to your body.
Ultimately you can use both vegetables and powdered greens to achieve a healthy diet; you can’t outsmart a poor diet that doesn’t include both fruits and veggies! Your body needs a wide range of nutrients to function correctly and you can’t cheat your own health.
#4: All Green Powders Are Good
Just like not all powders are the same, not all powders are designed to help with your specific needs. This is why there are so many combinations out there. Price can be a good benchmark to check the quality of your greens, and understanding the proportions of each ingredient included within the specific powder is vital.
When it comes to choosing a greens powder that will help improve your health and general level of energy, you should first consider the ingredients you are allergic to or which don’t agree with you. This way, you can eliminate certain brands and products from the start.
Next, it’s best to analyse your current diet and learn the types of vitamins and minerals you need to add. Think about it: is there a type of veggie you don’t like or you don’t have access to? It’s also important to consider the season, as we don’t have that much access to green veggies during winter.
Following this process, you’ll see there are all sorts of products to use according to your immediate needs.
#5: There Is No Right Time for Powders
While it’s true you can consume supplements whenever you want during the day, it’s also true there is an optimal moment for this.
According to specialists, you should consume your powdered greens in the morning, or at least one hour before working out. You should also avoid getting your smoothie after working out (there are studies proving that antioxidants hinder the body’s ability to recover and grow if consumed immediately after working out).
As you can see, the truth is somewhere in the middle: green powders are not a magic pill, but they do have their benefits when incorporated as part of a balanced routine. Particularly when it comes to providing a boost of energy and helping you to diversify and complete a healthy diet.
Six weeks ago I twisted my sacroiliac joint and I’m pleased to say it’s finally healed! It was agony for the first four weeks, but then it really quickly started feeling better in week four. I got a bit excited and tried to jog, but it felt like the bones were grinding, so I left it another week and I was finally able to run this week, swim and do yoga without being in agony. It’s exactly six weeks today and it’s totally back to normal. I wasn’t sure whether the chiropractor or osteopath helped or whether they were right for this injury. All the information I Googled said it was a 4-6 week injury and it was right. Perhaps it would have just healed itself and I could have saved my money. Who knows.
I am so happy that my injury has healed and I can get back to exercising. I already feel a gazillion times better from doing yoga the past two days. Now I can get back to running three times a week and really feel like myself again!
Here are 5 things I learned from having a sacroiliac injury:
Not all people at the gym are lazy
I’ve judged people at the gym before, but now I realise they may have an injury or be in pain. I am guilty of thinking people aren’t doing very much at the gym, but now I know there could be a reason. At week four I went to the gym just to walk uphill on the treadmill as I was dying to do some sort of exercise, but not be in pain. I felt really self-conscious that people must be thinking how little I was doing and what was the point of me being in the gym. I’ll definitely not be quick to judge other people next time. Though there was a girl who got on the treadmill next to me, ran really fast for about 20 seconds, took her top off so she was just in her sports bra and took a selfie, then got off…!
I don’t take my health for granted
When people have an injury a common thing to say is something like ‘we take our health for granted until we lose it’. I thought of this when I hurt my back and couldn’t do normal tasks like put my own socks on, get in the car or bend down to pick up a toy. But then I thought, no, actually, I don’t take my health for granted. In fact I try to look after and preserve my health as best as possible, even more so than most people I know. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke, I avoid soy and added sugar, I eat a wholefood plant based vegan diet, I aim for ten or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day, I exercise almost every day and go to the gym at least three times a week. I use natural cleaning products and beauty products. I distil my water. I choose organic whenever possible. I really do not take my health for granted. I’m doing my best to look after my health every single day.
Life is really tough for people with chronic back pain
No matter how healthy I am though, I can still sometimes catch a cold or injure my back! No amount of healthy living can help when it’s a muscular or bone injury, though it may help the healing process be speedier. I can’t imagine having to live with chronic back pain and I have a deeper appreciation of how tough life is for people who are in agony every day. Not being able to complete normal tasks I do every day with ease usually, was so unbelievably frustrating. Everything in the body is connected and having a back injury meant I couldn’t do so many other things, like look down, reach my feet, wash my hair easily or even sneeze and cough without being in excruciating pain. I feel really sorry for people who have to deal with this everyday.
I love exercise
I love to exercise regularly as I like to stay fit and healthy, but I was never sure if it was something I really enjoyed or just did because it’s good for me. Not being able to exercise for almost six weeks made me realise how much I do love to exercise. I missed it so much! At four weeks I started going to the gym and walking uphill on the treadmill as my back was feeling better, but I still couldn’t run without pain. I found it so frustrating not being able to run and had the constant urge to. I realised exercise really makes me happy and feel like me. I felt really restricted not being able to do it.
Time is a healer
I’ve never had an injury for such a long time and after being in so much pain and it seeming to get worse after a week and not get better, I went to see a chiropractor and osteopath. I’m not sure this was the right decision and I think it was just an injury that can possibly heal itself. Research said a twisted sacroiliac joint injury takes 4-6 weeks to heal and that was exactly what I experienced. I was hoping I could speed up recovery and was worried if I didn’t see a professional it may get worse. If I injure myself again I will read the advice and trust my body (which is usually fit and healthy) to heal itself before spending lots of money.
Hopefully that’s my last injury for this year! I had also strained a muscle in my foot in February. I never usually injure myself and have never had an injury as bad as this twisted sacroiliac joint before. Onwards and upwards.
Two years ago I wrote a blog post sharing what was in our fridge. I always find it fascinating to see what other people buy for a week’s shopping and what they eat, particularly other health focused people. Years ago there was a magazine that shared a celebrity’s fridge and analysed it with some healthy advice. I used to love reading these! It was my favourite part of whatever magazine it was. I think I’ve always had an interest in food and healthy living, but only truly found my passion for it over the last seven years. I’m now obsessed with healthy eating and this has now passed onto my family.
It’s also so interesting for me to see how our eating habits have changed over the years and what’s stayed the same.
What’s stayed the same?
Two years ago I was already buying organic and we still are. I still get a vegetable box each week and we top this up with more fruit and vegetables and cupboard staples. I always choose organic if it’s available. To see some of the reasons why I think organic is the best choice, read my blog post 3 Important Reasons to Choose Organic (other than your personal health). It is more expensive, sometimes a lot more, but I see it as an investment in our health, animals and the planet.
We still buy wholegrain items. These are so much better for health. White items are refined and spike the blood sugar. They have also had all the good parts removed that are full of minerals, vitamins and fibre. The benefits of wholemeal bread over white is a great post if you want more information on the differences.
99% refined sugar free
I went refined sugar free in January 2017 and I did one whole year with barely any slip ups, perhaps two or three (those were due to companies changing ingredients). This year I still want to be refined sugar free, but I’ve decided to relax when we are eating meals out. My only option was really ordering a salad with no dressing and it doesn’t make eating out much fun. I hope sugar free options will start popping up on menus soon (there’s one option at my local gym and a plant based café that uses no refined sugar near to us), then it will be easier. At home I don’t eat or buy anything with refined sugar, aside from Ben’s mayonnaise which he won’t give up. There’s a version made from rice that I buy, but it’s very small and at least twice the price. I’d like to convert him though. Read the problem with refined sugar for an in-depth look at why added sugars are not good for us.
Eggs from garden chickens
We no longer buy store bought eggs and have our own chickens. They provide us with 3-4 eggs per day and this is plenty for Ben and the children. I was only eating these, but I’ve given up eggs this year and no longer consume any animal products at all. If Ben and the kids eat eggs then I much prefer it to be from our own well looked after chickens that are fed a chemical free organic diet and no soy.
No meat or dairy whatsoever
The main difference is this time there is no cheese, pizza or yoghurt in our fridge. We are now a dairy free and meat free household. Ben did Veganuary this year and he hasn’t stopped. I made a decision, and he agreed, that regardless of what he chooses to do we will not have meat or dairy in our home anymore. I finally cut out all dairy in December 2016 and early this year I stopped eating eggs too, even from our chickens. So you could say I follow a vegan diet, though I prefer to say a wholefood plant based diet. The children still eat eggs, but they are meat and dairy free at home and almost completely everywhere else. I give them lunchboxes for school and nursery so these are always vegan and refined sugar free. It’s only going to be a bit more complicated when they stay with friends and family or have a party to attend. There’s no going back for me now. I don’t want to support the meat and dairy industry for several reasons – my health, animal welfare, the planet and so on. Read the book The China Study by T Colin Campbell and you’ll start to see why it’s the right choice for human health.
The big bottles of water are our own distilled waters. Tap water is full of crap. Believe me it is and if you distill your water and start seeing the disgusting brown crap that is left over, you’ll realise the rubbish we are drinking every day. We were ordering spring water before anyway, so it made sense to distill our water and stop wasting so much plastic. My blog post Megahome Water Distiller Review: Why I’m Drinking Distilled Water goes into more detail about why distilled water is potentially even better for you than mineral water.
This is still very new to us, but I created a loose meal plan so we all know what’s for dinner. I’ve given two options per day and thought about whether it’s a gym night and we need an easy meal as we have limited time, or whether I have longer to cook a more complicated meal. It’s full of our favourite foods and everything (aside from the chippy chips night) is homemade using as many fresh vegetables as possible. The only frozen items we buy are peas and sweetcorn. The rest we make ourselves. If we need mash, we mash potatoes. If we need a tomato sauce, we make it from tomatoes or use a can of chopped tomatoes. We rarely buy any readymade items aside from pasta, flatbreads and bread. It’s flexible too as we buy fresh food so sometimes an item might need using up quicker, then we’ll just switch a day. If you want a sneak peek at my vegan family meal planner, here it is: My Vegan Family Meal Planner and Dinner Menu
New vegan brands I love
Totally cutting out dairy has meant we’ve had to discover some new brands to try. Here are some of my favourites that are in this fridge and we order every week:
We are now all drinking Oatly oat milk. We also make our own milk too. Read How to save money by making your own organic oat milk. I’ve been drinking milk alternatives for a couple of years now, but the kids and Ben were still drinking cow’s milk. I made the switch to mylk for everyone before Ben gave up dairy too and for the kids and no one was fussed.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see me posting these balls of goodness all the time! They are free from so many things including dairy and added sugar. They have lots of flavours and they’re so versatile. Use with hoummous and salad in pitta to make a vegan kebab. Add to salads or on top of vegan pizzas. They are so yummy.
This spread is just what it says – pure. No dairy and no other crap. We get the sunflower oil or olive oil spread.
These are the nicest vegan sausages I’ve found and we order from Ocado every week. We make sausage and mash, add to pasta or have a cooked breakfast with them. They are made from pea protein and there’s no endocrine disrupting soy in sight. No sugar, just good wholesome ingredients such as seaweed. Sounds weird, but we love them.
This yummy jam comes in lots of different flavours and is 100% fruit. Nearly all other jams are pretty much half added white sugar. Yuck. This stuff is great and the kids love it on toast or a splodge in their cereal or porridge to mix in.
This is vegan cheese made from coconut oil. I use it on jacket potatoes with beans or to make flatbread pizzas. Bella also loves a slice in-between some wholegrain rice crackers in her lunchbox.
OK, not technically in the fridge, but in the freezer and a brand I want to share. We buy the kids their ice lollies which are made from 100% fruit and vegetable juices. No refined sugar in sight.
I regularly post meals I make and new brands I discover that are vegan/refined sugar free on my Instagram account. Follow me here to stay up to date: http://instagram.com/lyliarose